Hair battles, part trois

The Haircut
That Wasn't

We have resisted it for four years, but the time is here. Sunshine needs a haircut.

Little Girl with Messy Hair
I love my daughter's hair. It's long and silky and seems make her whole head glow in the afternoon sun. It's also extremely fine and tangles easily. Post-bath comb outs are a trying experience for both of us – and for anyone else nearby, too.

I've let her hair grow because I am so envious of it and haven't been able to bear the thought of scissors coming near that beautiful mane, but the challenges of taking care of her hair are starting to outweigh the joy. Even though I have figured out certain strategies for managing her hair, including braiding her hair at night before bed, it's still an ongoing issue, and it's starting to become a point of conflict between my daughter and me. That's no good.

When Supercuts won't do

Sunshine's hair is like mine in that it is extremely, extremely fine. Any error in the cut is highly obvious. Given the number of awful haircuts I endured as a child, I am determined not to let the same odd looks and comments such as "Did you have someone do that to your hair on purpose?" happen to my daughter. The persons who cut our hair have to have some serious skill and equal experience. This is not overkill. Truly. If I could just show you a couple of pictures from my childhood you would agree.

To that end, the last time I was visiting my beloved longtime (and extremely skilled) stylist, I asked if he would cut Sunshine's hair the next time I was in for a regular cut. He said, yes, of course, and a date for Sunshine's first haircut was set. I determined we wouldn't cut it too much, but several inches would have to go.

Sunshine and I talked about the haircut, and she seemed excited for it. She watched her brothers get haircuts. I showed her a photo of my stylist from his website. We talked about what would happen, that it would not hurt, and so on. We talked about her friends who already get haircuts regularly. I tried to walk a fine line between preparing her and going too far. As the day approached, when asked what was coming up, she excitedly told people the second thing we were going to do on a particular day was get her a haircut.

The camera was ready, but not the subject

On the appointed day, I drafted Alfs to come with us as the last minute to help and we set off for our appointment. Sunshine was still excited, although she did admit to being a little nervous.

As we walked into the salon, however, Sunshine's mood changed in a flash. She turned into me, buried her face into my body and bellowed that she didn't want to be here, she wanted to go home. It was like nothing I had ever seen from her. Sure, she's adept at tantrums, but this was a fit of a different kind. I was taken aback. She wouldn't look at the stylist at all.

I managed to get her to calm down and sit on a low stool with her backpack of toys that she had brought. My stylist and I talked and said perhaps having Sunshine watch my haircut would help.

Sunshine was fine, even giggling with her big brother all the way through my precision cut. She was calm and happy and talked more about it being her turn next. But when I was done and tried to pick her up to sit her in the seat for the cut, the fit started again, but this time, it included pummeling me with both fists like a boxer. I had never seen this before from her.

I tried to bribe her (hey, sometimes you have to do what you have to do) but she would have none of it. She kept howling and hitting and we quickly determined that the haircut was not going to happen today.

My stylist was understanding and we left, but I was in shock. I have no idea where that reaction or that behavior came from. I have no idea how to apply discipline to such behavior, or even if I should.

A new strategy is needed

On the drive home, I wondered what on earth we would do. I don't cut hair well, and as I said, I'm trying to save my daughter from bad childhood haircuts, even if they are a rite of passage. I figured we'd try with the (perfectly competent) woman who cuts the boys' hair, and if that works, have her see my stylist the next time. I'll try to talk to Sunshine about what she was feeling when she reacted like that, but I'm not sure how far I'll get. I'd really like to know.

I was disappointed, too, of course. I was disappointed with some of her behavior even as I tried to understand it, I was disappointed I'd have to continue to battle the tangles, and I was disappointed that a mother-daughter bonding moment was lost.

We have plenty of time for bonding at the hair salon, I suspect, and I need to let this go and figure out another way to get her hair cut. Hopefully without a left hook.

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