There we were the other night, Kiddo and I, in her bathroom after her bath, me tending to her wet hair. I was about to braid it, so I began combing and parting it in the center when I noticed some very short hairs, right in the front at her hairline. I didn't think anything of it at first - her hair does tend to break right at the front from frequent ponytailing and barretting, so a few flyaway, shorter strands aren't unusual. Then I looked more closely. This was more than a few flyaways - this was at least two locks of hair. Right in the front, right in the middle, where a widow's peak would be if Kiddo had one.
Her hair was still rather wet, so it was hard at first to determine the extent of the damage. It was already clear, however, that this had been cut, and not by any professional.
"Kiddo," I said in my stern parenting voice, "Did you cut your hair?"
"Um..... I don't remember." came the Reaganesque reply as she stared intently down at the sink - more so as not to meet my reproving look than because she'd actually noticed all the solidified-into-something-stronger-than-cement toothpaste globs she never, ever rinses out of the bowl when she's done brushing her teeth.
"Kiddo.............." I decided to throw her by changing questioning tactics. I haven't watched approximately seventeen thousand hours of the various flavors of Law & Order for nothing, after all. I can interrogate with the best of them. "When did you do this?"
"Um......" Kiddo paused, hoping perhaps that I'd have one of my short-term memory lapses and forget what I'd just asked her, but finally she cracked under my withering gaze, doubled by my reflection in the mirror. There was no escaping this.
"I did it when I was doing my presidents homework." Okay, that made a little sense, as the "presidents homework" involved cutting words out and pasting them into a Venn diagram about Washington and Lincoln. So, she had scissors handy at the time already.
I absorbed and processed this for a moment, then let go with the dreaded follow-up question: "WHY?!"
She really had no good answer. She tried "I don't know" and mumbled something about how she "didn't mean to" and her hair was "bothering her" and she "didn't realize" and wrapped up with an apology. Had they been studying explorers instead of presidents in first grade, she would have been able to pull a George Mallory and answer "Because it was there." That seems to be the real reason, from what Detective Mommy could discern anyhow...
By now, sufficient time had elapsed (along with the heat of my glare) to dry enough of the hair for me to get a fuller picture of what a pair of Fiskars in the hands of a not-closely-enough-supervised six-and-three-quarters year old can do.
I should pause here to mention that I tried to have Kiddo's hair cut in bangs once, when she was a toddler and finally had hair in quantity and length enough that "keeping it out of her eyes" was something requiring consideration. It was a mistake. Kiddo's hair was way too curly to allow for decent bangs. What she wound up with was a frizzy fringe that more sprang outward and upward than lay smoothly across the forehead, keeping out of the eyes as had been my hope. Back then, I swore I'd never do bangs for her again, as tempting as the idea was in terms of keeping her hair neat and out of her face. While Kiddo's hair does seem to be more "wavy" than outright "curly" now that it is longer, I still haven't dared attempt bangs again for fear of reliving that horrible, unmanageable, frizzy fringe look.
Kiddo, however, dared and did. Ugh.
Detective Mommy had one, last follow-up question before turning the case over to Judge and Jury Mommy.
"What did you do with the hair that you cut?"
And with the mumbled "I put it in my boot" response, I knew that she knew that what she'd done was wrong and was something she'd therefore tried to cover up. Perhaps not premeditation, but definitely a clear indication of guilt. (As a quick aside, here, her boot? That was the best hiding spot she could come up with? My kid is definitely not a criminal mastermind. Well, yet, anyhow...)
She stood there, tears beginning to spill down her cheeks and generally looking pathetic, with that damned row of hair high atop her forehead like a peacock's feathery 'do.
I considered appropriate consequences, the fitting punishment for this crime. I quickly realized that just having to live with it would be punishment enough. I shook my head sadly with a sigh for full effect, picked up the comb and began to comb her hair again.
"Well, Kiddo," I said, my voice laced with disappointment and regret, "there's nothing I can do to fix this. We'll just have to wait for it to grow back in again, and that's going to take a very long time."
"Like how long?" she asked, a glimmer of hope in her eyes that she'd managed to escape a harsh sentence. "Until..........April?"
"Oh, no, no, no. Much longer than that. Like, until you are eight or maybe even nine."
I wasn't exaggerating that much, after all. I mean, hair grows at what? A half inch a month? Prior to her Edward Scissorhandsing, her hair came to just below her shoulders, so about eight or nine inches long. Nine inches = eighteen months, which puts Kiddo at closing in on her ninth birthday. Well, past her eighth birthday, anyhow.
This news came as quite the shock to her. She looked positively chagrined. "And," I continued in the same disappointment-shot-with-regret tone, "it is going to look MUCH sillier before it looks normal again. I'm not going to be able to hide it that well, either, since it is right smack-dab in the middle of your head."
That was it, the killing blow. Kiddo crumpled and of course, Evil Judge Mommy felt my heart crack a bit at seeing her misery. This misery continued through dinner, with much snuffling and weeping (exacerbated, as it was, by the specter of the Disappointed and Upset Daddy next to whom she was seated). By bedtime, she was so thoroughly defeated that I felt the need to relent a bit and attempt to mitigate her woe. I did so by telling her the following story (at bedtime every night, Kiddo always asks each of us to tell her either a story about When We Were Young or When She Was a Baby - with "Baby" loosely equivalent to "any time she can't clearly recall herself") -
When I was a kid, my sister and I were huge Sesame Street fans. Even at the age of almost seven, which is when this story took place, I still was quite fond of Sesame Street - all the PBS lineup, really - mostly because it was one of the very, very few shows my mother would let us watch. When your choices are that limited, you'll watch whatever you can. Anyhow, our loyal Sesame Street viewing period coincided with the time when one of the people on Sesame Street was Olivia (played the by the recently deceased Alaina Reed-Hall), Gordon's sister.
Now, along with having a lovely singing voice and performing a great rendition of the Sesame Street classic Sing, Olivia, as you might have spotted in the clip above, wore her hair in a style that included beads. My sister and I were in love with Olivia's hair. We were envious of Olivia's hair. We wanted Olivia's hair. Well, one day, as my mother was distracted with the care and tending of our infant sister, my then 4 year old sister and I decided we were going to give ourselves Olivia's hair. We sat there in our room and pondered how to do this. Okay, fine, I confess - I did most of the pondering. My sister really was just going along for the ride on whatever scheme I came up with. My eyes darted around the room, trying to figure out what we could use to simulate those awesome, super-cool beads. Finally, they alit on the artist's kit Santa had brought me for Christmas the previous December. A-ha! Inspiration struck! This kit included no less than ONE HUNDRED AND TWENTY EIGHT magic markers, in every shade of every color on the planet. Well, in every shade of all the "big" colors, anyhow. I explained my plan to my sister and got her agreement that I would do her hair first. (I should point out that my sister's hair was the exact opposite of mine. Whereas mine was brunette, short and full of unruly curls, hers was blonde, straight as a pin, and right around shoulder length. Much more conducive to my brilliant plan.) She perched on the edge of her bed and I got to work.
My plan was simple - we'd imitate the look of a head of braided and beaded hair by removing the cap from a magic marker, wrapping the end of a section of hair around the tip of the marker, and then jamming the cap back on to hold it in place. My sister's favorite color at the time was blue, so I used all the blues, purples and greens on her head - almost half of the markers in the kit. There was a bit of trial and error at first - not enough hair to keep the marker jammed in place, too much hair to get the cap wedged back on - but I got the hang of it pretty quickly and in about fifteen or twenty minutes, it was done. She looked glorious, and immediately began to gently swing her head to and fro, making the markers-posing-as-beads click and clack in the most magically wondrous of ways. I urged her to get my hair "beaded" too, but alas, being as short and curly as it was, the markers really didn't work in it. It was just too difficult to get enough hair to wrap around the end and then, if she did manage to get a marker applied, it jutted out from my scalp at an odd angle, rather than cascading softly down around my shoulders like hers did. I was quite disappointed, but still proud of my handiwork, which we immediately ran down the hall to show off to our mother.
(At this point in my tale, I paused to ask Kiddo what she thought my mother's reaction was. "What did you DO?!?!?!?!?" came Kiddo's response. She was pretty much right on the mark with that.)
Yes, our mother, rather than either being pleased at our ingenuity and creativity or just impressed by our beautiful new hairdos, flipped right the heck out. In retrospect, I'm sure that the sleep deprivation that comes with having an infant, along with the generally being run raggedness that comes with also having a four and six year old, two dogs, one cat and no nanny or cook or maid around, may've dulled her sense of wonder and awe a tad. As it was, we were told in no uncertain terms to get those markers out of our hair RIGHT NOW and then grounded for an eternity following the grim discovery that not only is hair porous enough to soak up magic marker ink when it spends some quality time jammed up against a magic marker's tip, but that said ink will in fact be as permanent as the art kit promises and not wash out of that hair. We were summarily taken in for hair cuts before being sent to our room and the lovely, fantastic art kit with all its rainbow shades of markers was confiscated, not to be seen again until over two full years later when I had a Social Studies project to do for school and needed something with which to color in my feeble attempt at an artistic rendering of a Lenni Lenape village.
So, I told this story to the still sniffling and small Kiddo, and she was mollified somewhat, as she generally is by tales of my miscreant youth and its errant ways. The following morning, I attempted to hide the pieces of hair by sort of smoothing them over to the side, but I do fear that in another month or two, it's going to look like a teeny, Charlie Chaplin moustache, right there in the middle of her forehead.
And if it does, that will be the point at which I take her to a salon and see what, if anything, they can do. Maybe her hair has lost enough curl that bangs would be an option after all.................