Yesterday, I took my daughter to get her hair cut. She had decided to have her long, straight hair transformed into stylish and sophisticated layers which could be made to wave or curl.
I acted nonchalant, but inside, I was nervous. I have stick straight hair myself, and it just hangs there. I wash it; I brush it; I dry it if it’s cold. I let it be its straight self. However, I remember being young and thinking that my hair would be better if it was curly. An 80’s perm proved it wasn’t.
My beautiful girl doesn’t even like to dry her hair or brush it more than once a day. She likes the hairstyles she sees in celebrity photos, but I doubted she’d like the effort it takes to replicate them. Or the learning curve. But it’s her hair; she needs to make her own decisions.
Mostly, I was dreading her disappointment, but I was also wary of her expectation that I would help her style her hair. I’m willing to teach, but I’m not playing stylist every morning.
Where these expectations come from I do not know. The child lives with me. She sees me everyday. Why does she even think I know anything about hair or make-up? I can braid hair, but that is my sole skill.
Even expecting me to be calm seemed overly optimistic. The last time I got my own hair cut, I cried.
(I had asked for three inches to be trimmed, and when I put my glasses back on, saw that a good eight inches had been hacked off. Every adult female I know assured me it looked fine, flattering, pretty. I was teaching a Sunday School class of preschoolers at the time. Every girl in that class walked in and gasped, “What happened to your hair?” Out of the mouths of babes.)
Although she has never cried over her own hair, which before yesterday she’d only altered by growing out the fringe, then returning to it, she sobbed the day I buzzed my husband’s hair down to stubble. Sensitive dad that he is, he was all sympathy, hugs, and reassurance until she blurted out, “This is So Embarrassing! I have a bald father!”
So it was with some trepidation that I took my girl to the salon. Not opposed, not unsupportive, but nervous. We don’t have a good track record with responding well to disappointing hair styles.
The hair cut went fine. Fine being her not telling the stylist what she wanted, eyes pleading to me in the mirror as she mumbled that it was fine, and me having to explain what I’d seen on the photos she’d shown me last week so the stylist could try again. After that, it was indeed exactly what she wanted.
I even bought hair styling products. Things that promised to hold and shine and bounce.
The stylist told her it would take time to learn to style it the way she wants, so she should go home and practice.
We came home. I showed her how to use the hair dryer and brush to get the look she wanted. I explained how to use the curling iron. I gave her a spray bottle of water so she could erase mistakes and practice as much as she wanted.
Five minutes later, she stomped downstairs to tell me that she was giving up. “It’s impossible! I can’t hold the brush and the hair dryer at the same time! And the curling iron is stupid!”
I gave her the usual spiel about practice and learning something new and not giving up, then let her stomp back upstairs where she slammed the door.
Deciding to let the door slamming go this time, I am counting the new hair style – now safely ensconced in a pony tail – as a success since neither of us cried.