My daughter equates having her hair brushed to child abuse. She hates it so much that it has become my biggest fear as a parent. I cringe every morning and think about it the whole time she’s eating breakfast. I’ve learned to leave hair brushing until the very last minute before the bus comes. And more or less the following is what happens in my house every morning before school.
She sits down and puts her socks and shoes on, then grabs her backpack. She chatters on about what stuffed animal or Pokemon card she should take for recess. Meanwhile, I’m plotting the best time to spring it on her. I hesitantly eye the mass of golden tangles convinced they might strike at me if I get too close. I wait until she isn’t looking and grab the Wet Brush or the Knot Genie, grasp it nervously at my side and give myself a pep talk inside my head. See, I’m not a threat, I tell myself. I’m a good mom. I nervously go in when she has her back to me.
“Real, quick. I promise it will be real quick,” I beg.
“No!” She recoils, arms swatting at the brush.
“Please, just one quick brush. Don’t you want to look good?”
“No!” She screams.
“Please. I’ll be super fast,” I persist, trying to stay calm.
“What will you give me?” She looks me dead in the eye.
“I’ll let you have an extra dessert tonight,” I plead.
“Maybe. What kind?” Her voice begins to soften, a little.
“Girl Scout cookie?” I say, smiling a big fake please-God smile.
“Fine,” she huffs.
What ensues is a lot of alligator tears on her side and barely suppressed cussing on mine. Then she gets on the bus and I obsess over how f’ed up the interaction was. Bribery on my side. Extortion on hers. There’s gotta be a better way. But, honestly, I’m usually too tired and too busy to change it. Guilt has to suffice.
Lately, though, I’ve been thinking that she has a point. Why does it matter if her hair is perfect every single day? I don’t force her brother to style his hair. Why so much emphasis on appearance, and what message am I sending to her–that girls need to be more concerned with appearance than boys?
So, I’ve been thinking about it a lot, but instead of changing anything I wrote a piece for Scary Mommy. Hope you will check it out. I’ll get around to changing the extortion/bribery situation soon. Or I might just buy more cookies.