I may be biased, but my daughter has lovely golden hair. The only problem is there is just so very much of it. Like every other aspect of her personality, it’s dazzling, abundant, and sometimes overwhelming to me.
It’s also the near opposite of my own: that of a conscientious brunette rule follower. Suffice it to say my fine, thin hair is nothing like my blonde rebel’s.
My daughter may not be as much of a people pleaser as I am (few are, really), but as a middle school tween she does like to fit in and mix with her peers. She’s also home now less than she used to be, so I don’t spend as much as time with her hair as I used to do. What was once a daily ritual of brushing, braiding, and pony tailing is no longer my responsibility: it’s hers.
But earlier today, we took a small step back in time. My daughter requested that I put her hair into a bun for ballet class. In her black leotard and pink tights, she looked every bit the part of the poised dancer from the neck down. Her hair, however, was not cooperating.
So I twisted and twirled and coaxed her tresses, but her untamable locks resisted at every turn. I tried every approach I could think of to make that bun stay in place. Getting desperate, I resorted to braiding. That also didn’t work, and jamming bobby pins into my sweet girl’s head only seemed to make the situation worse.
The harder I tried, the more I failed. It felt a lot like parenting as a whole.
I knew what I wanted the outcome to look like, but I wasn’t sure how to get there.
Like so many aspects of parenting, desperation did not yield results.
The irony that this was all part of an effort to follow the rules of a very disciplined dance was not lost on me. The rest of her body, I knew, would adhere strictly to form and meet all the physical requirements, but not her hair.
So I did the best I could but fell short of the perfection I was going for—just like my efforts to make the perfect birthday treats or brainstorm a good craft for Girl Scouts or be a good cheerleading coach. (Let’s just say that I've never been a cheerleader, but the coaching incident is a topic for another blog.)
She's been dancing for years and while I've never been a master bun-maker, my work has been at least passable. Until now, that is.
Now that my child is a tween, things seem familiar, yet profoundly different.
The game has changed. It seems none of the parties involved, including my child's hair, knows exactly what the new rules are.
I used to be good at certain parts of parenting, and that's no longer the case. Doing what worked well in the past now yields less than ideal outcomes. It's a fact of parenting that just when you think you have your child, or a specific skill set, figured out, they change it up on you. But that seems to happen especially frequently and to be particularly poignant in the tween years.
My goal for myself, my daughter and her hair is the same - do my best to figure it out, with as little pain as possible, for all of us.
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