Tuesday, September 20, 2016

Your Most Important Hair Moment

In my determination to write more (and subsequently stay sane) I have joined author Ann Dee Ellis in a memoir writing group. 3 days a week she gives prompts and then for 8 minutes we write. Please feel free to join in! Here's my eight minute attempt today:

Perhaps this very day was my most important hair moment. I don't know. Time will tell.

I was cleaning up the den, throwing away bygone masterpieces from the art table and stacking books which will be unstacked by sunset. In the middle this work Erin came to me with a comb and scissors in her hands.

"Cut my bangs right now please," she demanded as her brown wispy bangs blew and tickled her eyelids.

I knew it was time for a trim, but I was going to get to that...when I could...

"I can't stand them anymore. And make them super short."

Erin and I have gone the rounds with her bangs for most of her hairful life. There was a couple years when she was hairless--a Kendrick baby trait I came to know intimately through the years. She has a long forehead--the perfect size and shape for a display of bangs. (I spend a lot of time wishing I had what I gave my children.)

But here we were.

"Could you give me a second? I'm just..." I tried to divert.

"No. Now." She had actually gotten so tired of her bangs that she interrupted a playdate and came home from a friends house while they were pretending princesses. Now here she stood in a puffy pink dress, a tiara and some bedazzled flip flops making a royal demand.

And yes, I am so grateful she knows to ask and not do the cutting herself. But that's because she's picky and likes to have things done correctly.

So I picked up the comb and the scissors and I started cutting those bangs. The bangs I've cut for years. Like gardener to his dahlias I have cared and grown those bangs, pruning and shaping year-after-year. Only today she insisted they go short. Short. Short!

Parenthood is nothing but walking the tiny line between having the final say and letting them decide for themselves.

So I cut them short. Short. Short. Partly because I want her to feel she has ownership when it comes to making choices for her body. But also because I don't want looks to be a battle between us. Ever.

When we were done she ran to the mirror and declared victory. I was happy for her. But also, anxious because will she now be the kid with weird bangs? I mean, I've given up on trying to dress her, she's very into a certain Herdman Child chic and I have played it up like it was her vibe is cool with me. But these bangs? Man, I don't know.

And then when it was time to go to preschool a few hours later, I remembered it was picture day. Right? Picture day! On this very day! So we dressed her in a cute little flowered dress, and matching shoes and I took her hair into the loving embrace of my straightener. And those short bangs did all the talking.

But she was so happy. When we dropped her off at preschool she strutted inside like she wasn't pretending to be a princess anymore, she was a princess. A princess who was about to sit for a portrait...that will likely hang in our house for awhile...that she will fondly look at for the rest of her life. And out of my head came images of school pictures-- those awful perms, awkward ponytails, bangs gone bad, and a lifetime of blaming my mother for clearly not caring for me at some of my most important hair moments in history. (Editors note: she tried, I honestly have impossible hair and no genetic skills for hair craft. As this blog has documented.)

I drove away with this letter in my head.

Dear Erin,

I sincerely love everything about you. In many ways I wish I were more like you. You're smart and funny. You have energy I envy. I love your style and particular-ness about all areas of your life. I wish I were as particular as you. Today you asked me to cut your bangs super short. So we took off the blue tiara you were wearing and a shiny sticker you had put on your luscious forehead, and we cut those bangs as short as you requested. And then you went to preschool picture day and had your picture taken with your class. In case you are reading this sometime in the future, please know you were super happy with those bangs. And I was happy for you.

I'll always be happy for you.