The other night, I was combing my daughter’s hair.
No, that doesn’t paint the picture. The other night, while my daughter rolled around on the floor screaming, I tried as best I could to detangle her wet, matted locks without ripping them straight out of her scalp.
“Stop!” she screamed. “I don’t like the comb! Stop combing my hair!”
“But I have to get the knots out or they’ll just get worse.”
“Stop! I don’t like it!”
I felt my daughter’s pain. I remember sitting dutifully in front of my mother, crying as she ripped through knot after knot. If she didn’t, my curly hair would mat into little dreadlocks, which would have to be cut out.
So I dealt with it. I didn’t want my hair cut short, and I hadn’t yet figured out how to keep it tidy (I get my curls from my mom but she’d spent most of her life with pixie-short hair and didn’t have much advice in that area).
My daughter, however, does not care about having long hair. She is two-going-on-three and doesn’t let me put her hair up except when she’s pretending to be Tinker Bell, and then only briefly. I couldn’t bear for her to have to cry over this any more.
“Do you want me to cut your hair?” I said. “It won’t get so many knots in it.”
(Maybe, from some moms, this would be a threat; I said it quite kindly.)
“Yes!” she shouted.
“You sure? You’ll be happy with short hair?”
I took the scissors and lopped it off.
“What do you think?” I asked as she looked in the mirror.
She giggled. “I think I’m a baby!” she squealed.
This is not the first time we’ve done this. The first time, I went shorter. “Boy” short, I guess, because everyone who met her seemed to think she was one, which didn’t bother her at all. The first time, I heard a lot of “What have you done?!” from family and friends.
Um, I chopped some dead cells away from my daughter’s head? I bought myself a few months without having to comb any knots?
This time, I braced myself for that sort of feedback. Her hair was about shoulder length when I cut it and delightfully wavy–she got a lot of compliments. She was starting to look like a big kid. But with the short hair, she’s right–she looks a lot more like a baby.
But you know what? It suits her. At the bakery yesterday, a woman said to me, “Her hair is adorable!” and though that wasn’t exactly the point of the hair cut, it really is.