“Hair” Today, Gone Tomorrow

Hair.  Why oh, why do I care so much?  Seriously! It’s just hair for Pete’s sake.  My father-in-law says the difference between a good haircut and a bad haircut is two weeks.

My own mother tried to say those exact words to my fourteen-year-old self back in the day and I didn’t listen.  I’m the girl that used to have nightmares about getting bad haircuts.  You’d think I would’ve grown up by now.

Apparently not.

Funny thing is, now my kids care too and this guy isn’t helping…

Hair is actually a pretty big deal around here.  And with all different types and textures, hair drama lurks at almost every turn.

My oldest now spends a significant amount of time in the morning forcing every single hair towards the front of his hairline to stand at perfect attention.  Sir, yes sir!

My girls dream of capturing Rapunzel’s look, which for various and obvious reasons ain’t never gonna happen.  Darn you, “Tangled.”

And, oh that sweet, Ethiopian born boy.  I’m beginning to wonder if he might be Sampson reincarnated.  If I even LOOK like I’m going to mention the slight possibility of a haircut, the color drains from his face and he acts like he might lose all of his strength with just one pass of the scissors.

In his defense, his hair has become a large part of his identity.  Girls of all ages swoon over it.  Men and women alike want to run their fingers through it.  And he has mastered the art of smelling and testing every hair product on the market to find just the right one.  Forget about sharing it with his sister!

When we had to shave his head during the lice epidemic (https://teamnilsen.wordpress.com/2012/01/30/head-lice-the-great-equalizer/) I immediately rewarded his reluctant submission with a remote control car.  Limited English was no barrier.  The immediate floodgate of tears told me all I needed to know about how he felt.

Even though nine months have passed since that fateful day, I don’t think he’s totally forgiven me for that one.  So, this morning, when I reminded him we’d be going to a family wedding this weekend and shamelessly dropped the “H” word, the flash of fire in his eyes could’ve ignited a wet blanket.

I felt the power struggle begin.

“Honey, how about just a little bit. They’ll hardly take any off.  Just a tad around the edges.”

“No, Mom. No!”

My husband watched a few such word exchanges before deciding he couldn’t take it any longer.

“Babe, why do you care so much?  If he wants an Afro-mullet, just let him have one.”

The smile on Kelel’s face dripped with the sweet smell of victory.  No matter the word “mullet” isn’t in his lexicon, he understood the rest.

After eating a fair dose of humble pie, I entered a space of serious introspection.  Why do I care?  Why is this the sword I want to die on today?

Unfortunately, the truth is not too pretty and actually quite shallow…

I care what other people think.  Ugh.  I hate saying that out loud.  If we lived on a deserted island, I’m fairly certain I wouldn’t give a rat’s behind what any of my kids did with their hair.  But we don’t.  And I do.

I really had to have a “come to Jesus” moment with my bad self! There are quite a lot of things I care about and I don’t hesitate to drill them into my kids’ psyches on a daily basis.  Character, respect, responsiblity, love, kindness, integrity, self-control — just to name a few.  In all sincerity, hair style should not even sniff the top of that list.  Most especially regarding a child who has lost control of everything he held dear.  Except his hair.

At the ripe old age of six, with no luxury of having a say in the matter, he was relinquished for adoption, dropped off at an orphanage, had his head shaved every six weeks and told he would eventually be moving to America to live with his “new” family.  He would have to say good-bye to all things familiar and embrace the uncertainty of the unknown.  He lives into that reality every day.

If his voice truly does matter, if we’re trying to breathe new life into his young soul, the least I can do is let him have a say…. over his own hair.

After all, the days may be long, but the years are short.  The time of influence we have over our children is a flash in the pan.

God-willing, in a few short years our young cherubs will be graduating high school and setting off to chart a course of their own.

Mullet and all.


  1. katiebrase says:

    Love it. Loooove it. Now what about the time my gal did the 2 wonky pig-tails meet under the chin – a la billy-goat? Do I just ignore that one too? I didn’t. Don’t think I could if she tried it again. BUT I will be better at letting go of some of my need to control other hairdos – or even just the need to have her brush it a bit better each day…. Now my boy’s outfits? Those I have successfully let go of. Long live cowboy boots with basketball sorts and the camo sweatshirt!


  2. Holly says:

    Thanks for doing my Ethiopian child’s hair. I’ll let you take control of her hair anytime you feel like you are losing mastery of your own “hair control tower.” That joke doesn’t even make sense, does it?


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