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Love and Hate

The ups, downs and overall delights of parenthood
May 19, 2010
04:14 PM

I Love Girls' Hair

Girls' hair is like a blank canvass – there's so much you can do with it! But usually I agree to do only as much as my girls let me

I Love Girls' Hair

When I first went shopping for clothes for my girls, even before I had them, I saw that girls' clothes were a lot more fun and interesting than boys'. Girls' shirts and dresses were plastered with flowers and princesses in shades of pink and purple. Boys' had trucks and dogs in dismal shades of green and brown. How sad. But how lucky for me! It's so much fun to buy clothes for girls.

The same is usually true for boys' vs. girls' hair. Boys have few choices – it's either long, short or none. As a matter of fact, when my older daughter started school, I could never tell the boys apart. How many blondish boys with virtual buzz cuts are out there? They always remembered my name, but I stumbled over theirs (tip: always try "Matt," "Josh" or "Dylan" when guessing and you might get lucky). Thank goodness for the boys who insist on rattails or Mohawks – their names I remember.

Girls' hair is much more varied – and there are so many things you can do with it! Bangs, no bangs, pigtails, curls, straight, long, short, in between (bald, not so good) layered, bows and barrettes.

I myself love perky ponytails. I'm always trying to talk my girls into letting me part their longish hair on the side and then collect just enough hair into a sparkly band to create a jaunty little mini ponytail. But lately, they're not having it. At 7 and 9, they now feel perfectly capable of making their own hair-do decisions, thank you very much.

That means part of every morning's ritual has become me telling them how wonderful they look with that little ponytail, and them, most mornings, turning me down.

I can't say it's a terribly new development. I remember asking the mother of another 2-year-old how she kept her daughter in peppy little pigtails every day. (At 2, my daughter Patti would yank the bands out as fast as I put them in.) The mom confessed that she wrapped that darned rubber band so tightly around her daughter's locks that the little cutie would have to scalp herself to get it off.

So what does it say of me that I have always been unwilling to force my girls to wear ponytails? Am I a hair-do weakling? Or have I just figured if you've got to staple the darned thing on maybe it wasn't meant to be?

My permissive hair attitude probably stems from my childhood. Not only did mom make our hair-do decisions for years, she also (gulp) CUT our hair herself! Many was the time she created frightening hair-don'ts for us just in time for school pictures (my sister Patty has the horrifying photos to prove it).

So I'm pretty lenient each morning when the girls inform me how their hair will be. As long as it's clean and free of tangles, I can't complain. Patti prefers her hair parted in the middle a la Janice Joplin and Suzi goes for a more modern, Selena Gomez coif. They look fabulous!

I succeed in fancier styles on gym days, when a ponytail helps them see better for sports, and for ballet, when buns are de rigueur.

I wish they didn't dislike those cute ponytails so much, but it is their hair. And apparently the feelings run pretty deep. During a recent dinner table discussion over what I'd be writing for this weekly blog, Suzi had a brainstorm. "I know what you can write, Mommy!" she gasped with a huge smile full of food. "I hate ponytails!"

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