Every so often, my youngest son goes through an unfortunate stage of licking his lips too frequently. They become chapped and ercely red. And while my dear 8-year-old looks as though he’s had collagen lip injections, he is adamant that he must keep licking because his lips are dry. It’s an endless and tiresome cycle.

One recent evening before tucking him into bed, I noticed he needed ChapStick.

“No, Mom! It will burn,” he said.

“It will make your lips feel better,” I said. He reluctantly agreed.

I retrieved the unmistakable small tube from the bathroom medicine cabinet.

I was not wearing my glasses or contacts.

I returned to his bedroom, removed the lid and proceeded to apply a heavy coat of the lip balm to those severely chapped lips. I noticed the balm texture was odd, and the tube did not glide across his lips with ease. I had to really apply pressure.

This tube of ChapStick must be old, I thought to myself.

“IT BURNS!” he yelled as tears welled in his eyes.

I wish I could tell you that in this moment I was deeply compassionate at his discomfort, but no.

I don’t remember my exact words, but it was something like, “Suck it up, Buttercup. That’s what you get for licking your lips all the time.”

His cheeks and nose turned bright red, briefly matching the color of his lips. He frantically wiped his lips to stop the burning, and after a few minutes, he recovered.

I kissed him good night and reminded him to stop licking his lips.

A few weeks later as I was cleaning my bedroom vanity, I picked up the old tube of ChapStick to discard it. That’s when I noticed the label.

wart stick


My poor child.

The good news is that not only is he perfectly fine after this incident, but he does not lick his lips nearly as often.

Myra Wright is a freelance writer and mom to three. Visit for more information.