Wedding Hair

October 31, 2010

At the wedding, I was given the task of doing hair for a 6 year old and a 9 year old. Their mom went back to her hotel room to get things done while I brushed and braided and talked with the girls.

I have always had a daydream of being a hairdresser. Or a manicurist. A taxi driver or a bar tender. Some job that has historically functioned as a proxy therapist in our culture. It turns out, the 9 year old wants to be a hair dresser too. As I was waxing urgent that maybe I really needed to give up my social work gig and become a hairdresser, my friend, who hates puppies and babies said, “Maybe you just need to have kids.”

And I thought about when I was little girl and people would brush my hair and comment on how thick it was, or how brown, or how it was just like my dad’s. The girls’ hair was so thin and wispy, light brown. I asked the 6 year old what side she wanted her hair parted on and she said, “I don’t know,” and I said, “Of course you don’t know; you’re only 6!”

Their hair was wet and tangled, like they hadn’t used conditioner. I wondered what kind of mother doesn’t tell their kids to use conditioner. We didn’t have a comb, so I had to use a brush. I grabbed chunks of their hair at the base, like I remember people did to me, and raked their heads with the brush. I said, “If I hurt you . . . don’t tell me,” And got some laughs from the adults in the room. The girls were very easy-going kids, neither even said ouch once and I told them how tough they were. When I complimented their mom on their toughness, I hoped she couldn’t tell I had wondered why their hair was so tangled in the first place.

Mothers tell me they feel judged a lot. And women in general, women who don’t know one another, have a habit of saying something with the best intentions, then worrying if what they said was taken the wrong way, while the other woman receives the thing with the best of perceptions and then wonders how she shouldve taken it. Or maybe that’s just me.

Eventually, the girls’ hair laid flat against their shoulders and straight down their small backs, in a brief sheet of dry softness. The soft, brief hair of small girls.

And why wasn’t their mom doing their hair herself? Brushing their hair felt so intimate. I especially felt self-conscious once their mother came back into the room. I couldn’t believe another woman was letting me touch her daughter’s hair. Then I reminded myself that, after awhile, it seems like parents get used to their kids and time spent away from them can be more of a treasure than time spent with them. She thanked me for doing their hair. I don’t know if she was grateful for having time away or grateful that she avoided a small family feud by at least getting their hair “done” at all. The girls’ grandmother was ready to pony up big bucks and my services were offered as a consolation. 

Point being, I really want a child. A girl one. And the other point is that there are so many things I haven’t even thought of when it comes to how wonderful it will be to have a girl, like being in a room with three generations of women from two sides of different families, eating fruit, tying bows and doing hair before a wedding.

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4 Responses to “Wedding Hair”

  1. MWK said

    Oh. Oh. Such a sweet post.

  2. Lisa said

    ‘The soft, brief hair of little girls.’ Lovely. The only thing I can’t help thinking, having a boy and a girl myself, who have both surprised me in different ways, is that one never knows. I do not mean in any way to chide you for your sentiment. Only to protect you.

  3. Angie said

    if i hurt you, don’t tell me.

    that is too cute.

  4. kate said

    Eliza screams when I do her hair. Like I’m pulling it out by the roots. She rolls on the floor and wails and cries and holds her breath….and then lets out a huge scream. Same for her nanny and for Howie. Recently she’s letting me do it while she watches Elmo. But mostly she still fusses and tries to pull the pony tails out. Then the other day she came home with this pony tail in her hair. Very high on her head and so cute. Apparently, there is one other nanny in the park that Eliza allows to do her hair. Not her nanny, her mother, or her father, but some other nanny she knows from the park.

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