Each time one of our children has hit the age of about four months, I have shorn my long and increasingly grey locks. That’s the age at which they discover Mommy’s hair makes an awesome rope ladder, perfect for hauling oneself aloft to gain a new and different perspective on the world. While this is a tremendously interesting discovery for the tiny person who makes it, there is a significant amount of pain involved for me, so snip go the scissors of the nice lady at SuperCuts and off goes my hair.
Baby Guy is in line to be the first child not to be traumatized by Mommy suddenly not looking like herself. Every day, after I put Baby Guy and Mr. Man down for their nap, I stretch out on the couch for half an hour, just to get off my feet and give my brain a chance to catch up with the events of the day. Bugaboo and Beanie are aware that any and all non-destructive quiet pursuits are fair game during this time, but that any non-emergency requests that require me to assume a vertical position will be summarily rejected.
Periodically, our daughters will ask me for ideas. A couple of months ago, I had a particularly frustrating time of trying to brush Beanie’s hair, as she insists on twirling it around her fingers and attempting to tie slices of fruit in it. Barrettes and headbands are known as “pretties” at our house, and our younger daughter remains unconvinced that bananas and grapes, no matter how creatively sliced, are unsuitable for use as hair ornaments. Because of this unfortunate habit of hers, brushing her hair usually results in screaming and tears, no matter how much detangling spray and water I use or how gently I ply any styling tool. At any rate, on that particular day, Beanie came to me looking for something to do during quiet time. I suggested that she grab a hairbrush and brush my hair, so she could see what tangles look like and how tough it can sometimes be to get even small ones out.
She was pretty enthusiastic about the idea, and sprinted off to the bathroom to retrieve my big silver-backed brush. I rolled over so my hair wouldn’t be trapped between my head and the back of the couch, and gave her some quick practical tips, such as, “Please don’t smack Mommy’s head with the brush,” and “Keep the brush going straight in one direction.” She brushed a few gentle strokes, jumped up and down, exclaiming, “I made you a big pile of hair!” then darted back to the bathroom. I figured she was going to get her brush to see if it would work, too, and smiled as I realized that, once again, something so simple brought happiness to one of the kids.
I felt a slight pulling on my hair when she came back, so I asked her what she was doing; while I was pretty sure that neither my husband nor myself had left any nail scissors on the counter, it’s impossible to be too careful about such things where the Beanie is concerned. She whispered, “I’m going to put pretties in your hair. You’ll be soooooo beautiful.”
Well, I thought, I was thinking about getting a haircut anyway. I didn’t smell any fruit, so I figured I was pretty safe on that score, and I’ve worn a flattop more than once in my life, so I replied simply, “Thank you, Beanie. That’s very kind of you.”
She had retrieved about a dozen bow clippies from their drawer in the bathroom, the kind that are for wee baby girls; they really haven’t worked in the girls’ hair for a couple of years, but I just haven’t been able to bring myself to throw them out. When she finished, my locks were neatly adorned with two rows of colorful ribbon. At her insistence, I got up from the couch and checked out my new look in the mirror.
“Beanie,” I told her, “it does look beautiful. You did a terrific job with the big pile of hair.” I had to return the beaming smile she flashed at me.
It’s become our afternoon ritual now; as soon as the lunch dishes are done and I head for the couch, Beanie skips off to the bathroom to retrieve all her styling notions. I asked her if she wanted one of those weird guillotined heads for her birthday (no, I didn’t describe it that way to her) so she could brush hair and install pretties at will, but she declined, saying, “I like your hair best.”
I wonder, sometimes, if she and her siblings really understand how many ways they say, “I love you,” without uttering a word.
Today’s prayer: Lord, thank You for Your blessings, who can be so very gentle and kind. Thank you for the quiet moments. Remind me to look for love instead of listening for words.