Chickadee is dying for me to cut off all my hair. She says she thinks it will be “cute.” Then again, she also says she thinks I should dye my gray bright pink once I do, and she currently has plans to streak her hair purple, so I’m not sure I’m relying on her for reliable hair advice.
Monkey has no opinions on hair, not really. He dislikes the actual act of having his hair cut—the sitting still! the scratchy little pieces of hair tickling his neck and nose!—but has reached a place where having scraggly hair hanging in his eyes bothers him more, so we generally keep his hair fairly short. I can’t quite get on board with that oh-so-southern thing of just buzzing your boychild’s head as soon as the weather warms up, though, so I kind of hedge my style bets and give him that floppy skater-boy cut that’s longer on top and shorter beneath.
The problem is that I tend to become hyperfocused on minor, inconsequential things because they are slightly less scary to me than larger, actually-important skills. And so we have a Hair Issue.
Monkey’s hair is delicious. Um, not to eat. That would be weird. It is thick and lustrous and has just the right amount of wave. Basically—much like his four-foot-long eyelashes—Monkey’s hair is a complete waste on a boy, much less a boy who cares not one iota about how he looks.
To whit: In the Fall he asked (at his sister’s urging) for a cut requiring a bit of spiking up in the front, and I obliged. Thus began a several-month stint wherein I had to fix his hair for him every morning, because he both detested the consistency of the hair goop AND had no idea how to do it, no matter how many times I tried to show him. As that particular cut grew out, I made a mental note not to repeat it, because as cute as it was, there is always this little voice in the back of my head that loves to point out that the end goal is for Monkey to someday live on his own and not need his mommy to fix his hair, y’know?
So this last cut, the somewhat-floppy-yet-low-maintenance ‘do, seemed ideal. All he has to do is brush it straight back, then allow it to fall back down on either side of his part.
Monkey’s morning routine is to get up, get dressed, come downstairs and have his breakfast, then go back upstairs to brush his hair and teeth.
My morning routine is to get up, make lunches, greet the children as they come in for breakfast, say goodbye to Chickadee as Monkey goes back upstairs, and then when Monkey comes down “all ready” for the day, ask him if he hired a hobo to part his hair for him.
I ask him this because Monkey believes the word “hobo” to be hilarious, and the concept of paying a train-hopping homeless person to assist in his personal grooming even funnier. It is not particularly politically correct and I apologize for that. In my defense, the realization that my 12-year-old can’t seem to figure out how to part his hair in a way that doesn’t make him look homeless is something that makes me prone to fits of terrified giggling and politically incorrect comments.
Yes, I’m aware that Monkey has many years left to figure out the many mysteries of correct hair-parting before one would reasonably expect him to be able to live on his own. Indeed, if he continues to cultivate his signature homeless look, that doesn’t necessarily preclude a productive independent adult life, even—one could say he’s destined to be a great college professor. [Here I feel compelled to mention that Otto doesn't have any trouble parting his hair, despite his job. Hee.] Nonetheless, it’s easier to obsess over his stubborn inability to perform this simple task than to, say, think about the fact that he screams bloody murder every time he sees a bee, or that we have to remind him to chew with his mouth closed at every single meal.
Back to the hair: I ask if he hired a hobo to part his hair, and he laughs and says that actually, the hobo pays HIM, and then does a terrible job of it, and it never makes much sense, but it always ends with me grabbing a comb out of my purse and fixing his hair. Because I just can’t stand to let him leave the house like that.
Usually Monkey endures all of this with good humor, but I guess he was feeling a little snarky this morning. Actual conversation:
Me: Hold still. I don’t understand what’s so hard about this for you.
Him: I did exactly what you said! I brush it straight back, and then down on either side.
Me: Do you use the edge of the brush to make the part? Because your part was crazy crooked. You need to LOOK IN THE MIRROR and see if it’s at least sort of straight before you brush the hair down on the sides.
Him: Well YOUR HAIR looks ridiculous!
[Here Otto looked up from his breakfast to behold the frozen tableau before him. I had paused mid-brushstroke and Monkey had that "Oh crap, do I backpedal or just keep going?" look as we gaped at him.]
Him: YOU don’t have a straight part! You don’t have a straight ANYTHING! Your hair is all crazy and frizzy!
Me: That’s true, but I’m still in my pajamas and have bedhead. I don’t give you a hard time for having a crooked part when you wake up, but if you wet it and brush it and still look homeless, that’s a problem.
Him: YOU’RE A PROBLEM!
Me: Yes, me and my frizzy hair are a problem. FOR YOU. BECAUSE I AM GOING TO HAVE TO COME WITH YOU TO COLLEGE TO COMB YOUR HAIR EVERY MORNING.
At this point Otto said, “Okay, that’s enough!” as Monkey and I both burst into giggles.
All those things I agonized over when he was little—when he couldn’t figure out how to ride a bike, when just remembering his manners was a major struggle—I had no idea that I would one day find myself oddly fixated on his seeming inability to brush his hair properly. Or that he would be making fun of my hair in retaliation, just like a perfectly normal, snotty tween.
Never a dull moment ’round here, that’s for sure.