Gimme a Head With Hair

Hair, hair, hair, hair, hair, hair, hair
Flow it, show it
Long as God can grow it.
My hair.
I want it long, straight, curly, fuzzy,
Snaggy, shaggy, ratty, matty,
Oily, greasy, fleecy,
Shining, gleaming, streaming,
Flaxen, waxen,
Knotted, polka-dotted,
Twisted, beaded, braided,
Powdered, flowered, and confettied,
Bangled, tangled, spangled, and spaghettied! – From the 1970s musical Hair, Gerome Ragni, James Ragni, James Rado, and Galt MacDermot

Every Sunday at 9 o’clock Mass, Bill and I sit behind the same family. It might be a Catholic thing, but in every Catholic church I’ve ever attended, people sit in the same spots every week. This is so true that whenever Bill and I attend Mass at an unfamiliar church, I always wonder just whose seats we are taking. Because I am certain there is someone giving me the evil eye from a few rows back because we’re in “their seats.”

One of the members of this family is a little girl who is maybe 2 years old. She has been an only child, but as the weeks have gone by, we have watched pregnant Mom get larger and larger. Tick tock.

Yesterday the family arrived uncharacteristically late. And the first thing I noticed is that the little girl’s hair was different. She always wears it with part of her hair pulled into little pony tails on each side. That’s the way she was wearing it yesterday, except that the pony tails were pretty loose and oddly close to her face, while the back of her hair didn’t appear to have been combed at all.

And then I noticed that Mom was no longer pregnant, and there was a baby seat occupied by a brand new baby. Brand new. This past week sometime. God bless those parents for venturing out to church.

But then I understood the little girl’s odd hairstyle: Dad had stepped in to do her hair while Mom did that thing that new moms do with teeny tiny new babies: tread water and try to survive.

This little girl is always pretty, well, let’s say busy. It doesn’t bother me a whit, and I completely understand why they don’t go to the Cry Room. Children have to learn to be good at Mass, and sitting up front is one way to keep them interested. Except that the only thing this little girl was interested in yesterday was flipping her head back and forth and up and down and spinning around because her pony tails were so loose. The loose pony tails were a barrel of fun to flip around. At one point, as Dad was holding her new little sister, she appeared to be preparing to plant a sweet kiss on the top of the baby’s head. Instead, she flung one of her pony tails in the baby’s face. Because why not?

It got me to thinking about dads and little girls’ hair. I remember when my brother was newly single and the father of two little girls with long blond hair. I assume he struggled for a while trying to keep the girls’ hair under control. By the time they came to visit the first time after his divorce, he had discovered a hair implement that involved wrapping it around the hair and then flipping the hair back through it. As I recall, their hair looked pretty darn cute. I assure you that it was the only hair style they ever wore when they were with their father.

Lack of hair knowledge is not limited to fathers, however. I gave birth to one child, and he was a boy. The only thing involved in managing his hair was getting it buzz cut once a month or so. So when I am responsible for the hair of any of my granddaughters — all of whom, I might add, have long hair — I am stumped. This is what they look like when their mothers do their hair….

It’s better now that they’re all older and can mostly take charge of their own hair, but man alive, when they were little, I discovered I was completely incapable to doing anything to their hair beyond basic low pony tails. And I’m afraid they looked pretty much like the little girl at church.

I learned recently that Mylee gave me away to her other grandmother. “Mylee told me that you aren’t good with hair because you only had a boy — her dad,” she said with a smile.

True story. But at least my granddaughters didn’t use their misguided pony tails as weapons. At least I don’t think so.

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