Locks of Love is getting 10 inches of Little Miss’s lovely tresses. The sun kissed strands of summer are now locked away, at the ready for another child. There’s almost always a story involving a hair salon. Mine’s better and involves a mother in law, a spray bottle, and some scissors that some might characterize as “happy.” Or downright exultant. A joyous Monday to one and all. And now, the full story on shorty.
Abigail’s hair was arch your back long, and with long comes tangled. I was fine with it. And so was Little Miss until it was time to brush it. “Mama, I want short hair like Natalie’s.” Natalie is a girl in Lucas’s classroom with a blunt blond bob that suits her (think Vivian, as portrayed by Julia Roberts, sporting the glamorous Carol Channing look). “Are you sure?” I ask, shaking my head. “Yes, I’m sure.” Phil’s parents are in town, and Phil has asked how I’d feel about letting his parents take Abigail for a haircut. “Well, it’s silly for them to take her for a trim. I mean, last time we took her she left the place looking exactly the same. I can give her a trim.” Unless.
Abigail and I click through hairstyle sites for kids. Her hair looks stringy and limp and always manages to get in her eyes (because she yanks out ponytails and unravels her braids). So, what’s the best cut for a girl whose hair is fine and thin? All I know from fine and thin is the lines on my face. I’ve always had a thick mop of hair full of volume. Thin fine hair, when left long, doesn’t look healthy. It looks hanging and a bit sickly. According to hairstylists thin fine hair looks healthiest cut short with lots of layers to give the illusion of fullness. This sounds good… in theory. After combing through images, I pick my way through our family archive and land on these photos of Abigail’s hair once upon a time ago (shown below). And I love it.
I hit PRINT. I sit down with my mother-in-law who agrees that the cut Abigail has in the photos suited her, looked healthy and precious. “She’s in good hands,” she tells me. “You’ll just have to trust me, Stephanie.” I’m unable to go to the salon because I have a Girl Scouts meeting. Abigail is excited to go with her grandparents. Though, in truth, I’m not sure she knows what she’s in for. I’m nervous. I continue to click through online images. “Will you stop?” My mother-in-law says. “Enough. She’s in good hands. Now stop already.” It’s only hair. It’s only hair. It will grow back. And if they cut it so it looks as it does in these photos, the photos they’re bringing to the salon, I will be thrilled.
When I return home from the Scouts meeting, I cover my eyes for the big reveal. In those moments I am imagining her as she was in her earlier photos and can’t wait to see her. “I’m ready!” Abigail sings. “Surprise!” When I open my eyes, my chest fills with a swollen feeling—a mix of nausea, grief, and a forced concealment. “Look how beautiful you are!” I say as she twirls. I mean this, of course, but that is some serious boy hair.
I want to cry, but there’s Abigail, truly happy. And, there’s my mother-in-law measuring my reaction. And, there’s Phil, avoiding eye contact altogether. “She has a boy haircut,” I tell my mother-in-law once the kids are asleep. “No, it’s not. Not at all. It’s a short cut for a girl.”
“No, I’m pretty sure if you came home with Lucas and had given him the same cut, it would look completely appropriate. For. A. Boy.” I want to ask how it ended up tapered to a point at the nape of her neck, like a boy’s cut. But, it’s really not her fault; it’s mine. If I was that fragile about it, I should’ve been there.
I can’t imagine how this will grow out. How long will it take? Most obvious to me now is how I’m the only one traumatized here. I prep Abigail for the worst, asking her how she’d respond if one of her classmates told her they didn’t like her hair. “I’ll say, ‘so?'” So? Because the only opinion that matters, when it comes to how she feels about herself, is hers. The hair will grow out, but this attitude, right here, is something I hope she fights to hold onto, something she never outgrows. ——————————————
As for me, I’ve got the Monday Mantra on repeat: It’s just hair. It will grow back. Deep breaths. One salve: Little Miss is upstairs wearing a tiara. At least the girl can accessorize.