Tuesday, May 20, 2008

Moms Don't Know Anything: Hair Edition

I'll confess I did something terrible about a year ago. Something I would hesitate to suggest to other moms unless they really have the guts to follow through with the fallout. I betrayed my daughter's trust and put a little scar in our relationship which I think will never be forgotten or forgiven by her.

She has, and did have then, pretty long hair. She needed longish hair so that she could easily put it up in a bun for ballet class. It also seems to be the style with her friends. But she didn't take care of it. I have curly hair and she inherited a fair amount of curl, which made her long hair messy if she didn't brush it out. I nagged and nagged. Nagging never works. I took the brush into my own hands and struggled with the inevitable tangles. I got lots of tears and screams for my efforts. I got promises of better upkeep. But it didn't happen. I told her repeatedly "if you don't take care of it, we have to cut it off."

So I did it. I took her to a local salon. She agreed to go for "just a trim." The girl who owns it is a friend of mine. You see where this is going. While Drama Girl sat in the chair and said "just trim the ends," I stood behind her and silently motioned to my friend with a horizontal karate chop movement above my shoulder. The universal sign for "CHOP IT OFF!" My friend not only understood, she took it from there, explaining to my daughter that there was so much damage (she exaggerated) that she was going to have to cut it short. Then she turned the chair away from the mirror and the locks started hitting the floor.

The results, as you can imagine, were devastating for Drama Girl. It took all the strength she had not to cry, and the effort to repress the tears contorted her face into a look of utter agony. When it was all over, the stylist turned the chair to the mirror and I hung my head when I saw my daughter's expression. But, I told myself then and I tell myself now - it had to be done. Rat's nests in hair are just not acceptable.

We had a bad period after that. Then the busyness of life took over and we tussled with other issues, like music practice and homework. But her oft-repeated line was "I'm never letting you take me to get my hair cut again!" I don't blame her for saying that.

Now the hair has grown out, and we have had a couple of monstrous rat's nests to tussle with. She complains less when I work them out, and I think she understands better that *she* is the one who can prevent these scenes.

But this weekend we are going to a wedding in which she will be a flower girl, so I had to insist we take her to a salon to trim the ragged ends. She understood, but she had a counter-proposal.

"I want to have side bangs."

"What?" said I, picturing short hair over each ear and long hair front and back.

"Just this little bit of hair cut short and on the side," she said, grabbing a lock of hair on the front and plastering it against her forehead. It looked totally bizarre. I bit my tongue. I thought quickly. I wanted to give her some sort of hair victory in our relationship, but what she was describing sounded freaky. It sounded like what you would do if a child got gum in their hair and you had to cut a chunk of it off.

"Can you show me a picture?"

Her eyes rolled. "Mom, EVERYONE is cutting their hair this way!"

It took about three more dead-end conversations before she dragged out a yearbook and started pointing to friends. These are friends I see every day but I guess I just really don't notice their hair. In the pictures, it just looks like it's parted on the side and the long strands are tucked behind an ear or something. I found it hard to believe someone would actually *cut* their hair asymmetrically like that. I resolved to fight my instincts and let her do it though.

When we walked in the shop the stylist was very cool about not giving me a high-five. She knows what a struggle it's been to get Drama Girl back in there. When Drama Girl described what she wanted, the stylist said "oh! sideswept bangs! Those will look great on you!" They have a name?! Not only that, but when I sat down with the obligatory People magazine, I paged through and saw that indeed, *everyone* is getting this odd asymmetrical haircut.

What do I know. I'm just a mom.

In related news, Jungle Boy is currently mad at me for *his* haircut.

When he was little, I took them all to the kiddie haircut shop. They got to sit on a dolphin and were promised a sucker if they sat still. Instructions for his hair were always the easiest: "Number 4." Number 4 was the razor length for perfect little boy hair. Nothing fancy, no chance for the crazy curls to stick out, nice and cool in the summer.

Then as he got older, daddy took over and the boys went to the barber shop. I'm pretty sure there are nudie magazines there but I've got to trust my husband.

I don't know what goes on at these barber shops but they 1) require an appointment and 2) take forever and worst of all 3) give pretty much the worst haircuts I have ever seen. Jungle boy was coming home with a millimeter off the sides and hair six inches long on the top. I hated it. It seemed to get worse every time the boys went in.

My chance came this week, however, as we prepare to depart for the wedding. Jungle Boy is the ring-bearer (or Frodo, as he explains), so I took him in for a cut. Number 4. I love it. He hates it. I've noticed though, that every other boy in his class has a similar cut - some even shorter. I'm not the only mom who doesn't know anything about hair I guess.

6 people stopped folding laundry to write:

slouching mom said...

Oh, she looks so great! That's such a happy ending to a less-than-happy story...

And whenever my husband takes the boys for haircuts, those haircuts are AWFUL. Why is that, anyway?

Elizabeth said...

LOL, FRODO!....he's a good one that boy!
They look wonderful. My children all have cowlicks that require a side part. Both girls just had me cut their bangs, and my ballerina (being done for the year) had me CHOP IT OFF...and I mean short....I'll have to post some pictures. In a related story, I trimmed my hair a bit myself today...I cut the whole family's hair...kind of fun and really cheap!

Monkey Memories said...

Drama girl reminds me of me when I was little. I also had thick curly hair that I hated to brush. Don't worry, I wasn't permanently scarred when my mom took me in and got it all chopped off! :)

I gotta get Monkey's hair done soon and I'm dreading it. He HATES getting his hair cut and refuses to sit and stay in the cute little car they have for him to sit in. Maybe I'll have to bribe him with a lollipop next time.

Beth said...

Hmmmm... I gave Mark the exact same haircut as Jungle Boy the other day. Though it was at his request. He says its just to darn hot driving the rafts over to Tom Sawyer Island when the temp is over 100 so he wanted the hair gone. And it looks pretty good if I do say so myself.

As a child I actually ASKED for my hair to be cut short. Now I look at pictures and ask my mother why she let me do that. So I think as a mother, it doesn't matter if you're making them cut it or letting them do it how they want it... eventually in the end, you'll be blamed for it either way. ;o)


Widney Woman said...

Drama Girl looks great with her sideswept bangs!! I LOVE the Frodo reference. Very sharp, that Jungle Boy.

My sister-in-law took scissors to our son's hair, recently. She has never cut hair before. My husband cuts our son's hair so it can be styled in faux-hawks, and the like (think Ryan Secrest). I don't notice things, but I did notice that butcher job.

Alas, one of the wonderful things about hair, as Drama Girl learned, is hair will grow back. Except in the case of my husband's ever thinning crown...

Little Lovables said...

As a hairstylist, I have seen this sooo many times, but I always *tried* to mitigate a solution between mother and daughter of an acceptable length for both, that way no tears.

Instead of having her comb out her curl and get the tangle, would she scrunch it up a bit and use what she has? may look pretty and be less of a hassle. I am doing a blog post tutorial on it next week.

the bangs look cute on her!

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