Saturday, August 30, 2008

A Hair Tale

When I was in the sixth grade my hair was so long I could sit on it. And I sometimes did! It was also heavy and hot and not exactly easy combing after a shampoo.

Near the end of that year, I began getting headaches. My mom began to suspect the headaches were related to the hair, the sitting on of which happened occasionally. I did not disabuse her of this notion. I'd been trying for something other than long, long hair since the second grade, but she had not budged.

There were other possibilities for the headaches as well. For example, my mom let me know in sixth grade that I was expected to take home the "General Excellence" award when I graduated from my elementary school. Which was in three years, at the end of eighth grade. Stress and anxiety were a possibility.

One day my mom, rather tight-lipped, said, "Alright. Let's get your hair cut." And we went to the salon next door, and they lopped off about fifteen inches, giving me a cut that was below the shoulders... still rather long-ish, but lighter, more fun.

In years to come, my mother pointed to that hair cut as the moment when all the troubles began. She said, my personality changed. I was not the same daughter she'd had. And she was frank about the fact that she didn't like me as much.

I think we can all figure out what else was going on in my life that year. Hormones were involved. I wasn't a little girl any longer; I was an adolescent. And, evidently, that was pretty hard on my mom. She was very jealous of my friends.... she did her best to break up my closest friendships (a project that lasted through my wedding, shockingly enough).

So I imagine I come to the issue of hair somewhat... fraught.

This weekend Petra went to an appointment (which I scheduled at her request) to have-- can you guess?-- fifteen inches of her hair lopped off for "Locks of Love," an organization that provides wigs for low income kids who lose their hair because of illness. Her dad took her; she's with him this weekend. At 11:20 this morning, as I sat in my office waiting for the commencement of a funeral luncheon, I received a text with the picture from my last post. Later, the picture above showed up on Petra's Facebook profile. (For a reminder of the hair that was cut, see this lovely shot from Table Rock on Peaks Island, ME).

It's gorgeous, it's hip. It gives me a funny feeling in the pit of my stomach.

I am not my mother. I love this girl, and I don't need to play out my childhood psychodramas on her. Right?



Songbird said...


Iris said...

She's adorable. And you're a cool mom who gets it!

LittleMary said...

wow. she is gorgeous. and you, you know, are an awesome mom...just catching up from G. Land here...

Anonymous said...

Your daughter's do fits her smile well... very cute. As a father of 3 beautiful girls, I have to say the hair cutting has been an issue. Lundun (7) had full body, blond locks, usually pulled in a pony tail, but on Sunday usually mommy put them up in ringlets. Savannah (5) had silky red hair that had natural curl, usually styled like her sister. Brooklyn (3) has always had a flapper-style bob. Please note the term HAD. I came home from work to the the unexpected loss of hair. Lundun had a pop cut that left the front long and the back buzzed. Savannah's is now a bob like Brook had, and Brook looks like the hairstylist gave up half way through. I'm not sure what your mom was thinking, but it took me a good month to get used to the new, trendy styles my daughters are sporting around. To my shame, I noticed that my reluctance to accept their hair directly affected their self-image. As soon as I realized that, I corrected my behavior, but not, alas, before some damage had been done. It was a hard lesson to learn. And may God always protect our children from parental psychodramas.

Idaho Brian