"What are you going to do about your daughter's hair?"
I get this question a lot. My daughter Emma has long, fine hair that is light brown with some glimmers of blonde. It flops on her face, covering her eyes. When I get her from the crib in the morning, her hair stands up on her head, as if being pulled in a dozen different directions. Sometimes one of the back pieces curls and a perfect little ringlet forms. She screams every time I try to put any kind of hair clip or band in her hair, but she goes up to other girls on the playground and happily points out their bows to me. The hair accessories I buy for her collect dust on her dresser. Emma's hair keeps growing longer and more tangled. She likes to wipe her food in it; her sticky fingers leave crumbs on her bangs.
I try to manage Emma's hair. Twice we went to our local kids' hair salon. She sat in a toy Jeep and watched Elmo movies while the stylists told her how beautiful she was. At the end, they gave her a balloon. She was happy. A few times after that, I was able to distract her so my mom could cut her bangs. I just wanted her to be able to see without having to brush hair out of her eyes.
This is my secret: I love her wild hair. It's a true reflection of my daughter, and I would never change her spirit and energy. Her hair reminds me of her happiness and freedom.
I know it will be different when she is older. It's different for girls. I spent countless hours ironing my hair out as a teenager and sporting perfect pigtails as a child. Even now I stress about how I will find time to blow out my hair before going out to dinner. Messy hair seems to be taken as a sign of irresponsibility or laziness. I always carry a brush in my purse.
When Emma runs around the house, her wild hair bounces behind her. Yes, I think. This is what toddlerhood should be like. Wild and free. So I let her hair continue to grow. I allow the natural curls to form on the back of her head. I inhale that sweet scent of her baby hair. My fingers run through the fine brown strands and I smile. Sometimes I try to brush it. She likes to put her barrettes on her dolls. I see the other little girls on the playground with beautiful headbands and tiny braided pigtails. Meanwhile, Emma's hair blows in different directions. Her bangs fall in her face again.
I suspect that one day she will slave over her hair, trying to make it straight or curly or wavy -- but for now, its wildness is simply perfect.
What am I going to do about her hair? Absolutely nothing.