Open to Something Other Than Suckiness

October 7, 2010 at 8:16 am 5 comments

If you can, quickly scroll down to the post before this, yesterday’s post. The one with the unbelievable hair, hair you’d never imagine reshaping itself into something smooth. Now you can appreciate the photo above. Now you might feel like I do, astounded.

It just goes to show that you never know. Even though it looks like things are headed down a beaten path, a path obvious and unavoidable, sometimes they don’t, and you are humbled and surprised. There are many times when I think I know best, when I’ve got a pocket so full of parental experience that I am smug and irritated. I say things like: No, honey that won’t work, or, That’s not an option sweetheart.

Take Echo’s hair for instance. I really would not have thought that letting it wind itself into a wild maze of tangles, a giant helmet of snarls, and not brushing it for days on end was a viable option. That path felt like a dead-end, like one that was going to end badly for all involved. The mama was sure to sweat while trying to untie the knots, performing that tricky limbo of holding the hair near the scalp to spare the child pain, while rip rip ripping downward to free the locks. The child was sure to cry, no matter how well the mama played her role.

But I was wrong.

Our bath was tender and sweet. I held my girl in my lap, swooping her hair through the warm water. We shampooed and conditioned. You know how sometimes, a particular bath will seem to have magical powers, and the child comes out shining? Virtually glowing with cleanliness? Well that’s how it was. And she sat on the couch and let me brush without any fuss, and then in true village spirit, our friend Romy (whose garage we occupy) separated and braided those little blonde hairs into the most groomed hair-do of all time.

It’s basically a miracle.

This kind of thing is like giving the child the benefit of the doubt, but it’s not only the child that deserves it, it’s everyone, it’s the universe too.

If we look I’m sure there are other times like this, when we could give the universe the benefit of the doubt instead of struggling against the tide. Late afternoon naps could be like hair tangles. Your child is headed for one of those late afternoon-almost evening naps and as a parent you groan with dread, so sure of the meltdowns and wild crying that is sure to follow, and so do everything you can to keep the child awake. Paddling upstream, trying to make a u-turn, anything to avoid the certain doom. But she could sleep through until morning. She might wake up smiling. Maybe it happened otherwise seventy thousand times before, but Echo had a rat’s nest yesterday and sleek braids today, so what do we really know?

Gum could be like hair tangles. Even though every other time I have let Echo hold the piece of gum she is obsessing over while she finishes her meal, of course with the condition that she not chew it until after the food, she chews it anyway. Right away. She slides down from the chair, asks me to not follow her, moves to the depths of the bedroom, faces the wall, slowly unwraps the gum, and begins to chew. Her logic is that if I do not see her do it I will not be upset. My logic is that I will never give her another piece of gum to hold until after, again. But Echo had a tangled beehive yesterday and sleek braids today, so what do I really know?

Remain open. It sounds like an admonition from a new age calendar, not a notion I keep handy in times of parental strife. But maybe I should.



Entry filed under: life lessons, parenting principles. Tags: , , , .

Where We Are Reasons to Love ‘Em

5 Comments Add your own

  • 1. Lindsay  |  October 7, 2010 at 9:03 pm


  • 2. jessie stevens hess  |  October 8, 2010 at 5:44 pm

    Your story reminds me of Olive at the same age. Hair wasn’t so much our struggle… it was always about the clothes. She started dressing her self, with great determination, at 18 months. At about 3 she decided she wanted to only ( as in 24/7) wear her footie pajamas with many,many accessories. I found that letting her do that, exploring whatever magic she was divining from her footie pajamas, was really no skin off my back. And in the end it lasted only a week or so, giving
    way to another and another ( and another ) exploration all of which have been delightful and endearing. some of my all time favorite
    themes have been her weeks of dressing like “moss ” and her frequently worn rainbow tail that I sewed for her… upon her request.

    • 3. nataliechristensen  |  October 8, 2010 at 7:59 pm

      Moss? Rainbow tail? Awesome!

  • 4. Joanna Smetanka  |  October 10, 2010 at 9:57 pm

    The look on Echo’s face in the first pic is hilarious. Almost like she can’t believe it either!

  • 5. Bonus Round – Hair Part III « Talk Feeleez  |  October 12, 2010 at 9:53 pm

    […] I must say the braids worked out. We went at least five days without hair troubles. And then after it had fuzzed into a […]


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