"Mama, I want my hair short. Like Lilly's." My daughter was sitting in the back of my coolmobile, chatting with me as I drove. I've seen her classmate Lilly - she's a cute girl with a chin-length bob.
"Are you sure?" I responded, glancing over my right shoulder to see her expression and gauge her level of commitment to this idea. A has curly hair and I was concerned about whether or not she understood that her hair will never look exactly like her friend's hair.
She nodded. "I want it short."
I let the idea percolate for a week or so and then made an appointment to take her to a kids' salon. Typically, I only have her hair cut twice a year or so. She doesn't have bangs or some particular hairstyle that has to be kept up regularly, so bi-annual trims seems to work fine. I did have some of the length cut off in the spring. This took two visits, because I think the first stylist was too afraid to cut the curls off. I'm assuming that most stylists have dealt with a teary "you cut off my baby's curls?!" parental episode at least once in their career and try to avoid such encounters at all costs. The second one agreed to cut more, but A's hair was still fairly long, which was fine.
Dealing with curly hair is a double-edged sword, for sure. It's beautiful, but it's a lot of work. The whole deal was not a completely foreign concept to me, because my wee baby sister has curly auburn hair. My hair is so straight you could use it as a straight-edge in geometry class. Over the past five years, I've purchased countless products made specifically for curls so that I can figure out the best way to keep her from looking like a big wad of frizz. When I meet someone new who has curly hair, I've been known to hold them at knife-point until they divulge their product line-up.
The biggest obstacle comes each morning, when it comes time to get a comb through her hair. "Owwwww, you're hurting me!"
"But I haven't even picked up the comb yet!"
So, if there was any chance of making my mornings a little less challenging, I decided I was on board with the haircut. There is nothing cuter than a little girl with adorable bouncing curls, but there is no one surlier than a curly-headed lass faced with a comb every morning. The thing about hair is . . . it will grow back. Onward and upward.
At the salon on Monday, I made our request. The stylist's eyes widened a bit. "Are you suuuuure?" she asked. I nodded. Moments later, my daughter was sitting in a pink car watching "Madagascar" while the stylist artfully wielded her scissors. I have to confess I felt a considerable pang when the first curl hit the black mat. ("My baby, ohhhhhhh") Before I knew it, the deed was done. The kid happily accepted the offer to have a bit of glitter added to the top of her head. She skipped to the register and helped herself to a mystery-flavored DumDum.
I followed her out the door and watched my daughter run to the van. She turned back at me and smiled when she reached the door. I realized that this decision she made for herself signaled some little bit of independence for her. She is growing up. I felt a little bit wistful until she gestured to me to open my hand. In it, she placed her DumDum wrapper. "Awesome, you know how I love it when people hand me garbage," I said. She laughed.