June 01, 2009

To Tell The Tale Of The Ponytail

EveRy mother has days when it seems they are playing a cruel game of “catch me if you can” with the clock, kids, laundry, dishes, Kids, husband, grocery shopping, KiDs, the paycheck, KIDS, and catching up on bills.

I find myself having those days frequently. Forget exercise videos, I get my exercise by loading laundry, folding laundry, putting away laundry, cursing the laundry, kicking it down the hall because I no longer care if it’s folded, just as long as it gets to where it’s supposed to be.

Oh, and in the midst of this, chasing a naked bum, owned by my 3 year old, running down the hall saying she has to go “pee pee,” and a one year old who follows her example by stripping off his diaper, going commando, because sister looks like she’s having so much fun running through the halls in her ‘birthday suit’ and getting away with it.

On one such occasion, as I was ‘assisting’ his sister, my son occupied his time by getting into the bathroom drawers, applying opened bottles of shampoo onto his head. I wondered if he had been paid by Johnson & Johnson to be their new walking “soap” model.

While all this was happening, of course the doorbell rang. Why wouldn’t it? Someone knew this would be the perfect set-up for ultimate embarrassment, why waste it?! I finished the “potty-training-moment” with my 3 year old, and then hurried to greet the UPS man with an “of-course-this-a-perfect-time” faux grin as I signed for something my husband had bought.

My naked kids had gravitated to the sound of the doorbell like ants swarming around chunks of food left on a cement driveway.
I smiled “June Cleaver-like” at the UPS man, acting like everything was perfectly normal and that there were not two buck naked children standing behind me in all their glory.

The toddler was stylin’ an unfashionable Mohawk, spiked all around his head like a severe case of Kate+8 inspired porcupine-itis, with a trail of soap bubbles extruding from his mouth because he had sampled the soap for edibility and looked like he was foaming at the mouth.

I didn’t invite the UPS man in while I signed.
He’d need a tetanus shot before getting through the door.
(It was a matter of public safety. My son is NOT current on his rabies vaccinations.)

I do not pretend to be “super” mom—I can’t do everything. So, for those days when I need some extra help, I came up with an ingenuous idea. (My ideas sometimes are something to be feared. I can go a little….overboard….)

So, I enlisted help. From my husband.

Swamped with so much to do, I called to him while juggling laundry, crying kids hooked to my leg, and a phone that was ringing off the hook. “Honey! Can you come here?”

He did. Good boy. My 3 year old (the one hooked to my leg) was throwing a fit because she wanted to look like a princess and was asking to have her hair brushed and “styled.” This was a good time to teach my husband how to play “beauty shop.”
It was genius! I stopped everything I was doing because I believed in my plan. If I could teach him how to make a ponytail, then on hectic days, I could tell my kids, “Go have daddy do your hair.”

Well, so I thought. My husband wasn’t buying it. “What?” he stared at me with a deadpan look. He looked at me as if I had stripped some part of his manhood away.

“I am going to teach you how to do our daughter’s hair,” I replied, overly excited to play “beauty-shop-princess” with my husband. This was gonna be good. “That way,” I continued, “you can help me out on Sunday when we are late for church, or if I’m late getting their hair done for school--this will be great!”

He stared at me as if he’d digested something that didn’t agree with him, but it was a fleeting moment (maybe he passed gas) but he actually humored me.
I grabbed all the items he would need to get started.

We’re ready to go.
“Gather all her hair back and as you brush it, hold the hair steady so that there are no bumps,” I instructed. He more or less got a feel for it, and I just let him have at it.

He did better than I thought he would.

But practice makes perfect, and I encouraged him to try a braid.
Yeah….that didn’t go very well.

In fact, it reminded me of when I was 7 and my mom left for a trip, leaving me and my siblings in my father’s care. SHE should have given my father hair-brushing tips before she subjected me to THAT situation. The next morning as I got ready for school, I had no option but to let my father do my hair.

My dad has big, callused hands—there’s nothing dainty about big man hands squeezing the blood out of your face as you are receiving an involuntary face lift at the tender age of 7.
The veins in my head swelled with a throbbing headache as he tried to tie the hair holder “the man way.” (In other words, he had no clue how the thing worked, he just folded the ends together while tying one end over the next, making a Boy Scout knot.)

I have tried to suppress this memory, but it’s one that no matter how hard I try to forget, it is forever burned into my brain, just like the scars from a yellow hair holder that was branded into my scalp. I still remember my dad muttering, “How the heck does this…no….no, not like that. Are you kidding me?” he growled lowly.

I didn’t quite catch everything he said because I was mopping my face with a towel as pain-induced tears rolled down my face. (Because of this memory, for the benefit of my daughters, I have now invested in the ShamWow. It cleans up tears the size of a broken dam.) My father brushed my tender head as if he was brushing my hair with a garden rake. He tried to tie the hair holder again. He had braided a rope as a scout, was it any different using human hair on a 7 year old?

Yeah, yeah it was.

My dad sighed impatiently. “Of all the….” (*mumble…mumble….mumble*)
He gave up trying the simple braid when he realized that my ears bent back, woven into my hair, and the protruding blood vessels on the sides of my forehead looked odd. Embarrassed to claim me as his daughter, he unwove the horrifically tangled ensemble and rebrushed my hair, ignoring my screaming protest that I could go to school looking like a rabid gremlin and blend in just F-I-N-E with my classmates.

“Oh, the pain!” I sobbed. “Just make it stop!”

No, no, my dad was determined to master this homemaking skill. He tried a ponytail, trying to make me feel better by cracking the joke, “do you know what’s under a pony’s tail? I wouldn’t look either!”
The tears I cried were a mixture of his lame-o joke and the horns he gave me on the sides of my head. And because he couldn’t smooth out those knotted unbrushed bumps, they were hosed down with hairspray and pushed against my head with one of his thick hands—the size of an cement mixer—in a desperate attempt to lay those “nasty” bumps down.
No one was more amazed than I as I stared into the mirror and saw those pesky horns still upright where they had been before. The weight of an anvil had been pushing them down, but, hairspray is a powerful force—and I can personally attest to its power.
My “horns” were now plastered in place.

Okay, just picture me 23 years younger. And I’m so beautiful, it’s a crime. But this is when my dad finally gave up, mumbling under his breath and enlisted help from the neighbor. But that was only because my uncontrollable tears could not be stopped, fixed, plugged, or dammed. The next door neighbor came over and immediately bit her quivering lip to prevent a sudden burst of obnoxious laughter. She was nice, friendly… she was done in one minute.

After putting my hair in a neat, clean, ponytail, she left and closed the door, leaving my father’s jaw on the floor, staring after her as if she had cracked some bizarre Russian-Indian petroglyph military code.
SO-O-O-O, I could totally relate to my own 3 year old daughter’s trepidation.
Turning to her I asked, “Sweetheart, do you like it when daddy does your hair?”
THIS was the look I got.

Somehow, I saw myself mirrored in her look. I felt her pain, the waves of trauma rolling off her…we shared so much in that moment.

Alas, Sunday rolled around and I HAD to enlist hubby’s help again as I was frantically running around. But I had prepared. No need to fear, hair-brushing daddy was near!
To my dismay, he dressed her.

Rockin’ outfit for church, you glam girl! My 3 yr. old’s outfit is complete with princess frills and army combat boots.

Who was her designer? I had to know.
“Honey, who dressed you?”
“Daddy,” she whimpered.

Hmmm mmm…..
I couldn’t resist. I had to know who did her hair and make-up. I personally l-o-v-e the punk/feral/Cindy Lauper/ Lady GaGa look myself….

“Daddy dressed you?”
“Uh huh,” she replied, her bottom lip quivering. Big tears were brimming to the surface, because she knew what I knew, she didn’t look like a princess—well, maybe Princess of the Freaks…
I know the horrific hairdo-horror she’s been through, now completed by a dysfunctional wardrobe ensemble.

Okay, so my husband’s skill is a work in progress. But in time, after much education and investing hours during the summer perfecting his “skills,” he’ll be ready for the new school year.
Just try convincing my daughter.


AnnieAd said...

Ha. Very funny. At least your hubby was willing to try! He gets kuddos for that.

Natalie said...

I love it! :) I went out of town last summer for 4 days, on a girls trip. So before my trip I sat Nate down and gave him a lesson on how to do my daughters hair in a pony tail. I had him do it once for me before I left and it was okay. But still needed a lot of work. When I came back from my trip my husband was SO excited to show me a picture he took of Mattea's hair. He had done pigtails and it looked great! They can be taught :)

tracy said...

HAHAHA! Oh those boots!! poor baby...


Becky said...

My oldest daughter's teacher told me that while I was in the hospital having the baby, my daughter felt the need to explain to the class why her hair looked the way it did every day. Obviously we need some training in this house!

Melody said...

You are too funny. I was out of town for a week and my hubby had hair duty. I guess I'm lucky that he once had long, flowing hair. I've always had short hair. Go figure!

Heather said...

This experience soooo explains why you came home with one pony tail, when you went to school two! The other one you cut off and the teacher neatly put it in your back pack....Ahhh, the memories!

I thought it was Jill that made you scared of "hair duty". No, no wait that was me! Your braid experience was MY experience from my older sister! And if I cried she would whack me on the head with the hair brush, yelling at me that it "DOESN'T HURT!!!" and if I so much as THOUGHT of taking out the braids that are making my rounded eyes into asian eyes she would glare at me, bodily move BACK to the bathroom to put my hair RIGHT BACK the way SHE had it DANG IT! My throbbing scalp was nothing to her excellent and magnificent braiding!