22nd May 2015
This post was first published in Practical Parenting Magazine, April 2015
My husband Keith and I both have luxuriant manes of hair. In this and many other ways, we are like a pair of beautiful wild stallions. Thick and full, our hair is both straight and curly, with cowlicks, knots and the occasional mystery dreadlock. All three of our children have inherited our unruly locks (sorry kids!) and this means that in this house, there is a lot of mane to manage.
It strikes me that dealing with all this hair has taken up a lot of my life over the past few years. It’s so exciting when your baby first starts sprouting. Like the gradual shadowing in of a Polaroid picture, your little one starts to reveal themselves – taking shape, layer by magical layer, before your very eyes.
First they grow this sort of thin, wispy comb-over, like a middle-aged British tax accountant. Then the adorable baby-mullet appears. Before too long you are able to give toddlers their sweet first haircut. A fleeting power, though. Very soon after gaining the skill of speech, mine all stopped letting me treat them like real-life Cabbage Patch Kids and started demanding the right to choose their own do’s.
Currently, all three – including my son – are in a ‘long-hair’ phase. Three year old Pudding is the hardest to manage around this, because logic is not her friend. She‘ll happily submit to a hair-wash because then she can admire how far her hair reaches when it’s wet. Her anguish as her hair dries is hard to watch.
Sometimes I follow a trail of water through the house to find Pudding in a soaking outfit, happily playing Lego with the ‘long hair’ she’s given herself by pouring a bucket of water over her head. Her dream hair is long, sparkly and purple.
Boy hair is a whole other story. I’ve cut six-year old T-Bones hair lots of times. Always a disaster. No matter how many YouTube clips I find or how much care I take, there are only two haircuts I ever manage to give him. One is the Kevin Rudd pudding-bowl, and the other looks like I’ve done the job with the wildly shaking hands of a chronic alcoholic.
Now, like his sisters, T-Bone wants it long, so I’m off the hairdressing hook for the moment. But his golden, thick hair has a bit of a Beatles/Bieber/Rod-Stewart-in-74 vibe. In fact T-Bone has the kind of sweeping, glossy locks that women pay hundreds for in a salon, although perhaps they might decline the Weet Bix crust.
As for my biggest, she likes to do her own hair, and it has all the fabulousness you might imagine from a creative 8 year old who gets her fashion inspo from Harry Potter and Backyard Science. She’s not beyond the disco ponytail or the triple-plait, and lately, she’s been teaming her loom-band choker with a feather stuck in her hair. Janis Joplin lives again, I think proudly to myself as she trots through the school gates.
There they allmy three, crazy manes blowing in the breeze. One is dreaming of purple sparkly hair, one is be-jewelled and be-feathered and the Hugh Grant flicks of the third are covered in Vegemite. They may look like unkempt ponies, but they are intent on doing their own thing, and I wouldn’t want to stop them.