Hair today, gone tomorrow

The girlie must have been watching Britney Spears on YouTube behind my back. I give you Exhibit A, below, right: what the lil’ monkey hath wrought, aided and abetted by her artsy crafty scissors. Yes, that’s her hair. Correction, was her hair.

IMG_4101.JPGI didn’t freak out after her first bout with the shears. That is, after I knew what had happened. I’d been distracted by feeding her brother, and went to check in on her at her “art table,” where a suspicious quiet had fallen. I asked her how she was doing, and lovingly began to pet her head, when her hair began to come out in clumps in my hands.

Quite naturally I was spooked. “Yegods! Cancer?!! Chemical attack?!! Homespun curse from a grudge-bearing preschool enemy?!! Dammit, girl, would it kill you to share the Polly Pocket Dolls?!! Look what happens!!” Then I saw her scissors on her art table, and some tell-tale evidence in the way of yet more hair.

I tried to calm the histrionics. I mean, I like to see her taking posession of her body. I like to see her taking a little initiative. Taking maybe a half an inch off here and there, you know, in a nice blended line, that sets off her chin. On General Principal I told her I was sad that she had cut off some of her hair, since it was my understanding that she was planning to grow it Rapunzel-length. Or, failing that, as long as one of her special cousins, who graduated from preschool with enviably waist-length hair.

Lil’ monkey protested, “Well, it’s my hair.”

To which I had to admit, “You’ve got a point there.” I ran aground, yet again, on the rocky shoals that separate a healthly respect for youthful self-determination from reasonable parental control.

After a perhaps a bit too long of a pause, I came back with a convincing retort: “But still.” I thought a moment longer. Then: “This is one of those situations where we invoke the ‘I’m the Baba and you’re not’ rule.”

She stared at me a moment, and went on to her next creative endeavor. I put shears back away, out of her brother’s reach, and kept a watchful eye on her for the rest of the afternoon. The beloved didn’t even notice the slight change in ‘do until I pointed it out.

It was the second bout that got me all up in arms. Days later she struck again, and this time the results were not so subtle. She went from moppet with mullet to looking like she had been mugged by Cyndi Lauper. More to the point, she looked like her Baba just lets her traipse around the house, doing as she pleases, following her every impulse. With scissors. We can’t have everyone else knowing that. So this time I confiscated the scissors, and we scheduled her first pro haircut.

The woman there was as genial as could be. Internally, I was stumped: has she seen two-gal parent teams come in before? And learned from experience that the lesbians at the barber shoppay for their kids’ haircuts with the same cash as the heterosexuals? Or is she just plain sensible and friendly, and it’s all no big deal? I’ll never know about these things. Maybe I’ll just begin to consider that more people than I expect are sensible and friendly, and it might be no big deal after all.

The whole affair was fascinating to the lil’ monkey. About as much so as her first visit to the dentist, and no more traumatic. Like at the dentist’s, she was sitting in her very own BigGirl chair, subject to the detailed and thoughtful ministrations of a grown-up stranger. She believed us that it wouldn’t hurt, so the rest of it was just a big adventure.

When she slithered off the barber’s chair, she beamed, knowing she’d made it through another rite of passage en route to BigGirl. She promptly gave her mannish lesbian parent a big, fat, long, giggly hug. Little moments like these take on a wee commercial feel for me, like: See? And the little cuties love me just like they would any other mother with a bunch of long hair and girlie accessories. Not like anyone was necessarily even surprised. But each foray deeper into heterosexual normalcy, with the kids, feels like a rite of passage for me, too.

Like many mannish lesbians (and Others of any kind), I’d found a way to proactively circumscribe my movements, ideally limiting myself to places where I would not be regarded as, oh, you know, a threat greater than terrorism.* I take a deep breath and steel myself when I have no choice but to go where (I worry) few queers have gone before. And at least in my head, this parent thing brings me to more of those places more often than before. Which I’m sure has been a productive thing, both for my fitful faith in human nature, and for strangers in the World At Large, laying in wait to confirm what their insides really wanted to know, which is that love is a good thing, no matter who’s doing the loving and who’s being loved.

So far, I’ve encountered no face-to-face ickiness in front of the kids. I have time to forumulate the best “teaching moment” response, if and when I catch hell from a hate-mongerer in their presence. (I’m thinking it’ll be simple: Love the spitter; hate the spit. It’ll feel less simple if they’re the target of the spittle. But we’ll burn that bridge when we get to it.)

Meanwhile, we have a kid’s haircutter we’re happy with. And the lil’ monkey’s earned back her right to scissors use, under strict supervision.

I think I’ve got her under control now.

* Like Oklahoma. You know, where they’ve already experienced gay terrorism. Oops! Wait, that was two ultra-right wing straight guys! My mistake.

11 thoughts on “Hair today, gone tomorrow”

  1. Do you know “The Haircut Song” by Erin Lee and Marci, the singers I’ve been featuring on Mombian? It’s all about a child who cuts her hair by herself. There’s a short clip on their Web site. Clearly, there’s some universality to this whole attempt at self-shearing; it would seem to bear no relation to the fact of two moms.

  2. What a great song! Though of course I am petrified to play it for the lil’ monkey. I don’t think we’ll be out of the woods for a few years. This piece on Yahoo! Canada’s “Family & Relationships” pages, “I Cut My Hair” quotes a professor of early childhood education on the self-shearing propensities of preschoolers:

    “They’ve mastered the fine-motor skills that allow them to use scissors, and they want to see what else the scissors work on,” explains Cameron. Ah, that crisp-crunchy sound of blades shearing through hair! It’s heady stuff. “And they’re at an age when they’re ready to take initiative, do things on their own, explore cause and effect. But they’re not quite at the point where they can predict what the effect is going to be!”

    Happily, this stage is fairly short-lived. “Usually by five or six, they stop,” says Cameron.

    Hey, I got no problem with short short, if she doesn’t. We’ve got lots of inches of wiggle room yet to go.

  3. I was giggling all through the first part of this post. And particularly interested as to whether you found a good reason to forbid the cutting of her own hair.

    Then I got thoughtful, as I often do when reading your pieces.

    And then I had to laugh again at the picture. Did you catch that picture I put up of Sassa coloring on the bottoms of her feet after I told her she could have her markers back if she didn’t color all over her hands and arms?

  4. Welcome, Preemie Twins Nanny. And thank you.

    And Chicory, I never caught that! It’s wonderful. She is just so danged cute I had to promote her from link to pasted-in image. Hope you don’t mind. Cute and wily. She followed your dictum to the letter of the law.

    Alas, I’m not sure if I ever procured a good reason why not to cut her own hair (in her eyes). I mean, I rattled off plenty that sound good to me: might cut herself, hair doesn’t grow back very fast, it’s really hard for even grown-ups to cut their own hair, etc. But pretty much the clincher is she doesn’t get to use her scissors if she uses them on her body. That’ll be among the handful of hard & fast lines, in a house of much negotiability.

  5. It’s only hair, right? It grows back. As a woman with extremely short hair, I try to remember that when it comes to my children. Two weeks ago, our 3 year old requested that her head be shaved to match her brother’s (I’m not a fan of the shaved head on our son because I think it makes him look like a neo-nazi but the other mother in our house thinks it should be his choice). I know it is hair. I know women can have short hair (obviously). It will grow back. And yet, I couldn’t bear to have her head shaved. She was happy with a shorter cut…for now.

  6. Wow – she has TONS Of hair left.

    When I did that to myself at her age, I had NO bangs.

    And possibly a bald spot slightly to the left of center.

  7. when i was pregnant with my boy, my 3 year old girls decided to play beauty shop on each other. they were so proud of themselves, but i was devastated. they had horrible mullets made of the most beautiful chestnut curls. i was upset that they chopped the curls, but it turned out alright since they cut only in the back getting rid of the mullets while ending up with adorable chin-length bobs.

  8. Last fall, the Boy decided to imitate his Uncle Ron’s barbering 3 days after his haircut and gave himself a bald spot over his left eye. When I asked “Why?”, his response: “So I can clone me like they talked about cloning the wooly mammoth baby.” My partner’s quick-witted response: “Hair won’t work for cloning right now; they have to use blood.” which ended the cloning idea. (The Boy is parsimonious with his blood; the tiniest scratches must be immediately staunched with band-aids.)

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