the long and short of it
The girls have reached a phase where they are aware of what other people look like - and more to the point, what they look like. Now this is by no means equivocal to a teenage angst filled body image awareness - it's more of a barbies, princess, and dollies have long hair kind of awareness. It doesn't help the situation that Belle has thick, fast growing, strong blond hair while Emma has a thin top of slow moving easily breakable chestnut waves. Now I happen to find each of their manes equally beautiful and, in honesty, equally awkward depending on the day, but in the end their hair suits them. And while Belle is content to let me braid and bow her locks, Emma would prefer a quick brush and dash method to grooming. So it's really worked out up until recently when Belles hair took a huge growth spurt and Emmas turned to tangles that never reached past her shoulders.
I'd be more worried about this (I WAS more worried about this in the past... thinking dietary issues (but Emma eats like a champ - we started a multi-vitamin just to be safe), alopecia (but she lacked other symptoms)... but my mom reminded me that though I have a veritable sheep on my head now, I spent my younger years in braids skinner than a pinky finger and even that style was eventually chopped for a spiked mullet do in third grade. When that gave way to a permed bob (contain your jealously) and then the perm and bob were allowed to grow out in 7th grade (it was like teased troll doll as I tried to "comb" out the curls each day) it was like my hair had quadrupled in volume.. and it's been that way ever since.
But back to my ladies... in the past I've always cut the girls hair. Not because I claim to be any sort of expert, but because - well - I'm here... they're here... no carseats, babysitters, or cash required. I've been able to subtly maintain Emmas shorter do while gently trimming Belles, but the last few times I suggested a hair cut it was met with tears and a terror look from Emma. It's not that she was scared, but for the first time ever she said she didn't want short hair, she wanted it long like sissy's and like Rapunzles. It didn't help that Belle has been compared by several people to Disney Princesses. Settle down, I'm not saying she IS a princess or even that i think she looks like one (any more than I think all my children are a prince and princess in their own right) - and this is dragon belle - the child who growled like a dragon for the better part of a year and a half... Its the longer blond hair and blue eye thing that spurs the well meaning comparison - a disproportinate number of the D.P's possess these traits. Most recently Belle was compared to Rapunzle. She was delighted, but guess who wasn't. When I overheard this, or when anyone else realized Emma was within ear shot we quickly added that Emma looks like Rapunzle when she becomes the princess at the end (chopped brown hair if you weren't following me). Hurray, both girls are princesses! Win win right? Nope. The damage was done. and who wants to dress up at the short haired Rapunzle - not even the Disney staffers. They don't even make that costume.
So this hair cut was a tougher sell. It wasn't until this past week when Emmas sweaty little neck was plastered with fine ringlets too thin to remain in a ponytail (and honestly I hate to put rubber bands in her hair anyway for fear that I'll pull out the last remaining strands) that I finally convinced her to go for the big girl hair cut. Aw heck - it wasn't me - it was that this time Amabelle overheard me and started jumping up and down because she LOVES hair cuts, don't you know (oh sweet irony), and she LOVES having her hair combed and mommy can I please play on your phone while you cut my hair?
With the phone as my ploy I took both girls out onto the back deck in the late summer sun. I wrapped their necks in thin sheets, sprayed down their hair, clipped sections, and prayed I didn't mess up too badly. Amabelle's trim amounted to a dusting of gold colored powder on the deck surface... evening out some of the back layers and straightening her bangs... She was pleased as punch, though there was no discernible difference when she was finished, she still got up and gave me a big hug. Emmaline, brave little toaster that she is, sat with me for nearly 30 minutes while I clipped up and trimmed section by section. I had this great idea to take the back length up to the nape of her neck and add layers on top of that to give the illusion of more volume... I wanted to fade the layers out as we came around to her face so that she'd still have some longer pieces to pull back should she decide on any given day that she was in the mood for a bow or a braid. It may have been a bit more ambitious then I should have attempted on my own, but I was pretty pleased with how it all turned out. Until I saw the pile of beautiful brown, gold and red flecked hair laying at my feet.
Holy Cow! I had cut off nearly 1/2 of her hair! I seriously removed 3 inches from the base length and nearly 6 inches from the top layers. I started sweating it a bit and was so nervous that Emma would freak. I summoned Tony over with my eyes all wild and crazy and whispered to him that I thought I cut it way to short, she's going to be upset, whatdoIdowhatdoIdo!?! Tony looked at me like I was the crazy person that I obviously am and leans in front of Emma - she looked up from her game, eyes twinkling...
"Hi Daddy! Mommy cut my hair... wadda you think?!"
"Oh My Gosh Emma! It looks SO GREAT! You look like a dancer and I can see your pretty neck, and eyes and all of your great curls! Mommy did a great job and you look fantastic!"
"Thanks Daddy! Mommy can I look now?"
I removed her little cape and shook off the extra hair, resisting the urge to put stray pieces in their place as she moved away. Emma danced her way into the mirror where she performed some little spontaneous routine (that she has dubbed the hiney dance) and then promptly forget that she even got her hair cut. Mimi, PopPop, and Grandma solidified her love of her new do by issuing similar Daddy like proclamations of love when they saw her for the first time.
I stood staring a bit dumbfounded looking at Tony as we started to clean up the piles of baby hair littering the deck.
"I can't believe she took it that well... I mean, I made it really short..."
"Why wouldn't she take it well? She looks great, and she's not riddled by years of self doubt that make her question people who tell her the truth like you are".
"Nice - (fabulous how once you're married to someone they apparently earn the right to see right through you- I didn't even argue... it was true - See, I'm learning!) how do we keep her that way?"
"Don't second guess this hair cut around her for one... after that, who knows... maybe she'll get lucky and be that way on her own".
Right. Gotcha. Fingers Crossed.
So Emma's got a nice new summer hair cut, one that shows off her curls and her beautiful eyes and delicate neck, and I've got some reflecting on how I project myself confidently in front of the girls. Nothing like raising kids to bring all of your neurosis out front and center in a little crazy you parade! I want to capture up their innocence, trust, faith and acceptance and bottle it up - just in case they need it later, because right now they are pretty darn perfect - long hair, short hair it doesn't matter - and they'll be the first to agree.