Hair Today, Gone Tomorrow
By Patricia Darak
My younger daughter, a breath away from becoming six, wanted me to cut her hair so that she could have bangs.
She didn’t beg or plead. She didn’t cry or throw a fit. She said she wanted bangs. It was my choice, she indicated. Either I gave her bangs or she would do it herself. With the scissors in her small hand hovering in front of her face, I could see that there would be no further discussion of the matter.
She got her bangs.
I cut off five inches of her golden tendrils, and her entire demeanor changed. She was joyful and she giggled her approval. I remarked that she looked really nice with her new bangs. As she looked in the mirror, she said that she already knew that.
Never underestimate the power of peer pressure. Last week, after hearing repeatedly how nice her little sister’s new hairstyle looked, my older daughter brought up in conversation – several times – the fact that all of her friends have bangs, too. Long bangs that reached the chin and could be tucked behind the ears, medium length bangs that skimmed the eyebrows, and short bangs that ended in the middle of the forehead. Springtime had brought yearning for change, and a small snip of the scissors seemed to be just the answer. Ordinarily, I would need a great deal of persuasion to go anywhere near her head with an idea of losing the length; I was still semi-traumatized from trimming her ends a quarter of an inch the week before. Eventually, her logical and astute assessment of the situation won out over my feeble refusal to alter her cascading locks any more than I already had. Basically, she reminded me that she knew what she was doing and that, if the results were terrible, she would be the one to look at herself in the mirror every day. And, she emphasized, it was only hair; it would eventually grow back. With trepidation, I assembled all of the tools that I would need and spread them out on the bathroom counter. She smiled at me and we began.
Twenty minutes later, she turned her head from side to side as she shyly appraised her reflection. Smiling up at me, she thanked me and gave me a hug of appreciation before going off to give an impromptu fashion show to her admiring younger siblings.
As I swept up the trimmed ends and emptied them into the trash, I wondered why I was so averse to the very thought of cutting my children’s hair. Yes, I had waist-length hair when I was younger. Yes, I enjoyed the way it looked and the many styling options I had. Eventually, though, I only ever wore it two ways: braided or ponytailed. I would never have thought to experiment with it.
When I finished sweeping, my son came into the bathroom and washed his hands. While he was lathering up his hands, I asked him if he would like me to trim his hair also. He thought for a moment. “Sure.”
My eyes sprang open wide. “Really?” I wanted to be sure that he heard what I had just proposed.
“Sure, Mommy. I trust you. Just not my bangs, okay?” As he was drying his hands, he turned to face me. “Let’s do this.” I brushed out his thick hair until it was as straight as I could get it. Carefully, I snipped in a straight line until his ends were even. Not too bad, and I only ended up cutting off about an inch in length. After a quick glance in the mirror, he ran off to play with his sisters.
I quickly swept up and threw away the small pile of strands and, as I did, I noticed the blonde ends that had been cut off. This was the hair that he sprouted in my tummy before he was born; I felt as if some kind of milestone had passed.
“Are you still sweeping, Mommy?” I looked up from my reverie to see all three children staring at me. “Are you sad about our hair?”
I laughed softly at their concerned expressions. “A little.” I leaned over and kissed each one on the forehead. They visibly relaxed.
“Now,” I said, while clapping my hands together. “Who wants a snack?”
All three shouted, “Me!”
“Okay,” I said, “Let’s go, baldies! Onward” They all started laughing. “Oh, Mommy!”
We had lunch then, the four of us: Mommy and three no-longer-babies. And it was nice.