Her hair runs wild and free all over her head. At her first birthday it was still firmly in the “peach fuzz” camp…and now it explodes in every direction curly and glinting with ginger and light. The hair that didn’t always show up in pictures tumbles over her forehead and into her eyes, down her nose and occasionally into her mouth.
It was so easy when the hair we were discussing was hypothetical. “Either her dad can do it, or I will cut it into a bob!” I used to declare. I assumed her hair would be as straight as mine and bang trims would be had every couple of weeks with special hair cutting scissors, her sitting on the bathroom counter feet swinging, thumping the cabinet doors. Her forehead dampened by the spray bottle. Hypothetical hair is so much easier to deal with.
Hypothetical two-year-olds are also easier to deal with. I have probably done less judging than most people when it comes to my pre-parenting days. My early days in the classroom taught me holier-than-thou statements that start with “I will never” don’t go down as easily as they spill out. But I am already doing things I had hoped to avoid. I yell too much, My patience drains quickly. I do not remain calm and tell her what I am going to do and then do it. The advice I give parents from toddler to teen. Advice that I still think is pretty good, hypothetically. Just like that bob that would turn into a fro the second I chopped it the way I once declared.
Her personality runs as wild and free as the hair on her tiny head. She is smart and funny and very very sure of herself. “I can’t wear those” she declared when I dared present her with shoes that did not have glitter on them “those too big.” (They are in fact perfectly sized.)
I don’t want to cut off these personality traits, like her ringlets they are beautiful and belong to her. I know that like her hair, they would likely not be tamed by a blunt cut, but become something completely unmanageable. But I cannot let her think it is acceptable to demand things from people or speak unkindly simply because you can. I have had students who have never learned they don’t always get their way. It is a much easier lesson to teach at two than at twenty. I love her too much to let her do whatever she wants.
That advice: 1. Say what you are going to do. 2. Do it. 3. Repeat. It works. I am a better teacher because of it. But it doesn’t take into acount the curl of the second guessing. Do I need to choose this battle? Does she really understand? Am I expecting too much. too little? It does not take into account the speed at which this wild haired little girl is able to push my buttons. A year ago I would not have believed it myself. It does not take into account (I am ashamed to admit) how much I care about what the people around us are thinking.
I have learned that less is more when it comes to this unfamiliar hair. Too mush brushing leaves the springy curls lifeless and sometimes frizzy. Too many bows distract from the natural beauty. Instead most days I sweep her hair off her forehead with a clip or tiny covered elastic. Just enough to keep her hair out of her eyes, so the world can see her bright smile and the hilarious way she scrunches her tiny eyebrows when she is contemplative, or set too firmly in her ways. It makes her look like a grown man.
On special occasions, if she will let me, I part her hair roughly down the middle and secure those curls in two pigtails. They look just like two cocker spaniel puppy ears. Soft and bouncy and bounding into the fun of it all. I never get the part as straight as I hoped, and the two always come out slightly cockeyed. But the effect is adorable.
I am slowly learning to shape her behavior in the same way. I want her actions to compliment her strongest personality features, rather than subdue them. I want her to continue to run wild and free as the hair down her back. As her mother it is my job to make sure that those unruly bits are gently brushed back from her face, and everyone can see how truly extraordinary she is.