I was born in the early 80’s, which was a very unfortunate time to be a person with flat hair. I wanted a perm SO BAD, and my parents’ refusal to get me one was probably one of their best parenting decisions ever. So I went through tons of hair spray, slept regularly in foam rollers, and burnt the hell out of my hair (and myself) with a crimping iron. My mom still says that her great failure as a mother was her inability to french braid. I won’t exactly say this scarred me for life (maybe my therapist would disagree – IT WAS THE 80’s!!!), but I always promised myself that I would get really good at doing hair in case I ever had a girl.
Fast forward 30 years, and I was blessed with TWO heads of little girl hair to style. And now that my youngest actually has a decent mop on her head, that basically means that half of our morning routine is hair-related. It’s quite exhausting, really. And it’s a little like tooth brushing. It’s something necessary that your kids hate and you insist upon, even though you don’t really like doing it either but you know you have to. Because bad hair, like bad breath, is just not acceptable. And because my kids need to be able to do things like see where they are going and be presentable humans and such.
Right now my 14-month-old is in that stage where her hair is way too long to be left alone but too short to do much with it. I prefer to try for a top-of-the-head ponytail because it’s more likely to make it a minute. But, since the ponytail requires a full-on WWE-style wrestling match and all kinds of hair pulling (mostly her on mine), I tend to go with a simple side clip. The only problem is that my child immediately grabs anything that touches her head and yanks it out. So we have to go with the distraction route and try to touch her head as little as possible. While putting a clip in her hair. It’s just madness.
My older daughter is a whole other ball of wax. She’s got more hair than I do. But here’s my question, kid: how in the world do you get so many knots in your hair? Why is it that I can brush it out at night and you wake up in the morning with dreadlocks? You act like I’m torturing you when I am very carefully and gently brushing out your knots, but you really are torturing ME. When I see that rat’s nest on your head each morning, I die a little inside. The Groundhog’s Day of hair.
So every day we do our hair battle. And every day over breakfast I spray her head and her waffles (oops) with detangler. We do our hairstyle negotiation. I attempt something fancy – or at least something neater than the day before. I work through the knots while she yelps and wiggles and swats at me. Most days I’m pleased with the transformation, even thought we usually end up with a simple ponytail. Meanwhile my daughter gives zero fucks about my effort.
Fully half of the time, my girls’ heads of hair are completely ruined by the time we are out the door. Fully 100% of the time, they look like little wolf-children by the time I pick them up at the end of the day. Why do I bother? Because like so many other parts of parenting, I adore them. And I think I know better than they do what is best for them. And despite the daily hostage negotiations, I actually enjoy playing with their hair. So I will keep on trying until one day a ponytail actually sticks. Or until they can do their own hair. Whichever comes first.