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Most every mother, after finding out she’s having a little girl, daydreams about the tea parties, the dress up, the mommy daughter dates and, undoubtedly, the hair. We picture quiet and peaceful moments on the living room couch tenderly brushing our daughter’s hair and talking about the day’s events while she thumbs through a picture book. We imagine bows, headbands, pigtails, ponytails and a variety of braids.
The truth is, however, that little girls between the ages of 1 and 5 will not, under any circumstances, let you touch their hair without a fight. Naturally, like any good parent, I try to groom her. Yet, it takes nothing short of an ambush to even attempt to approach my daughter with brush in hand. If I am fortunate enough to make brush-to-hair contact, one of the following scenarios will take place:
The Brush and Whine
Not a whole lot of explanation needed here. Regardless of how tender and calm you are as the brusher, there is always a significant amount of whining coming from the one being brushed.
“Mommy, that hurts. You’re hurting me. Mommy, I don’t want you to brush my hair.”
You try and gently explain the situation.
“Honey, I know, I am trying to be gentle, just hold very still. I’m almost done”.
If their hair is wet, like after a bath, then may the good Lord be with you.
The sun is peaking through the trees as the morning dew begins to rise off the grass. There is a rare moment of quiet stillness in the home. You spot your prey. She is on the couch watching an intense episode of Paw Patrol with her brothers. There is trouble in Adventure Bay… again.
She is distracted. Now’s your chance. You slowly creep around corners and behind furniture, aiming your brush at the unsuspecting target. You get close; within arm’s length. Suddenly, there is a shift in the wind. Your daughter faintly detects your scent in the air and hears footsteps approaching from behind. She bolts. You run. She runs faster.
The Seek and Destroy
In this circumstance, the stars have aligned in such a way that you have been granted the privilege to both brush and style your child’s hair today. It is precious. Maybe you’ve managed a braid or some pigtails and, no doubt, there is an adorable hair accessory proudly displayed atop her head. You walk away, delighted and beaming with pride.
Approximately 3 minutes later you announce it is time to get in the car for school. Your daughter exits her room. Her hair doo has been completely dismantled and somehow, she has managed to put back all the tangles you worked so hard to remove. A small part of you dies. Defeated, you bend down to try and clip some of the hairy mess out of her face. She swats your hand and scowls at you with laser beam eyes.
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You make an effort to brush through your daughter’s hair when, suddenly, she begins twirling about with such speed that, for a brief moment, you think she may actually take off and fly away. The grooming tool you once held in your hand is now entwined in her mess of tangles. She is still spinning. With each turn you lurch forward and try to grab the embedded brush. Your efforts are unsuccessful.
The Melting Candle
This is a sneaky situation in which you have stealthily lured your daughter in with a decoy. A book, a doll, a snack… whatever. She is in your lap. All is well. You slowly reach for the brush you had hiding in your back pocket. You make a conscious effort to lower your breathing rate (or maybe just hold your breath all together lest she notices you) and begin to brush. You may get one, possibly two brushes in before she realizes it was all a ruse.
Instantly, all muscular tone in her body is lost and she begins to slink to the floor. You try and prop her up but her bones start melting, too. She is now nothing but a pile of mush on the floor.
The Moment of Weakness
Every now and then I am able to brush my daughter’s hair by taking advantage of her emotions.
It goes something like this:
She comes crying and screaming into my bathroom while I am blow-drying my hair. She has been injured by one of her siblings and is very upset. I lovingly pick her up and wipe away her tears. What my daughter sees is a loving and caring mom who offers comfort in times of trouble.
What I see is the perfect opportunity to brush out those tangles. I begin to stroke her hair and offer words of relief.
“I am so sorry to hear that, sweetheart. How dreadfully awful. Are you okay?”
Of course, it is never okay. Thus, she continues to try and explain between shaky breaths and snivels. Rather than listen intently to her ever sob, I sneakily try to maneuver a comb out of my makeup bag without her noticing my reflection in the mirror. I begin to brush as she stammers through the horrendous account of sibling injustice.
My mouth is saying, “Uh-huh, uh-huh. Oh my. Really?” but my mind is thinking, “This is happening! I am really doing it! Victory is mine!”
This is usually the last resort. You have had enough and all other efforts have failed. You chase your daughter around the house until you have successfully cornered her in an actual corner. You brush with as much speed and fervor as you can possibly muster before she finds a way to break free.
There is really only one way to brush and style a little girl’s hair properly and without force or trickery.
Just hand her over to grandma.
The grandmother phenomenon is a mystical and magical one not yet understood by modern science. This enchanted breed of human kind can get their grandchildren to do absolutely anything and everything that they adamantly refuse to do for their own parents. This is both amazingly wonderful and excruciatingly frustrating.
Your daughter returns home from Grandma’s house sporting two adorable pigtail braids. Her hair is perfectly parted down the middle and a shiny red ribbon adorns each side.
“Wow. How did you do that? She won’t let me touch her hair.”
“Oh this? It was nothing. We had fun, didn’t we, sweetie? We played beauty shop for hours.”
You blink a few times in stunned wonderment.
“Well, it looks great. Were the kids well behaved?”
“Oh my word! They were absolute angels! They were so kind to each other and did everything I asked them to do. They even helped me clean up all the toys before we left.”
At this point, you are not sure whether you should punch the Grandmother in the face or hug her and offer to pay her a million dollars to raise your children for you.
It is also worth mentioning that a little girl’s hair is a magnet for all things sticky. It’s where yogurt, grits, oatmeal, peanut butter, pancake syrup, snot and lollipops go to die.
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Many days I don’t have the energy to try and clean it up. I mean I honestly do not even make an effort to brush her hair. It’s that bad.
One time, after picking my kids up from preschool and cleaning out their backpacks in preparation for the next morning, I found this darling little note in my daughter’s preschool folder:
You guys… that’s a slightly charred, strike-anywhere match taped to the top of a Christmas-tree-shaped Post-it with a note that reads:
Katie, we found this in Sarah’s hair (smiley face).
Just wanted to make sure she wasn’t playing with them.
A match, y’all… like the kind that makes fire. Although they were gracious enough to draw a smiley face, no doubt they were just the teeniest bit concerned.
If anyone reading this is worried that our children may be in grave danger, please don’t report us. We are good parents. I promise. Okay, fine, we are mediocre parents, but honest to goodness, I have no clue how that match wound up in her hair. Perhaps there is a family of birds in there building a nest? I wouldn’t know, it’s been a while since I’ve brushed it.
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