My daughter asked me to cut her hair this week.
It’s not the first time she’s asked me to do this, the last time was a roaring success and I was the toast of the family bathroom for a full hour. So, naturally on the back of this I was confident I would do well and be the world’s number one mother for a while.
However, once the job was done, she looked at her shorn locks in the bathroom bin and went quiet. Her chin resting on her chest, her little fingers twirling the edge of her pyjama top, shoulders drooping.
I had messed up, hadn’t I?
I thought my heart would crack in two. I had done exactly as she asked of me and she had talked about having her hair cut for days with enormous excitement. So what led to this change of heart once it was too late bewildered me.
My little girl keeps things in. She mulls and muses, contemplates carefully and tries so hard to sort things out herself. It’s a character trait I admire in her and wish I possessed more of. I don’t want to change her fundamental self, I know I have to respect her and give her space. It’s just that she’s my baby, always has been and always will be, so the urge to make things perfect in her world is huge for me.
When bed time came, I knew as we settled down for story time that nothing had helped and I was trembling as I asked if she was ok. She said yes. I told her I didn’t think she was. Then the tears came, tumbling down her cherub cheeks. She wasn’t sure about her hair, she was afraid she had made a mistake.
Oh dear, she was blaming herself. She thought it was a fault and worse, her fault. I felt terrible, a complete failure as a mother and guide that I had blasted away with the scissors like a machete without checking properly if she was sure she wanted to go through with it. I told her we all make mistakes, but this wasn’t a bad one. Her hair is still long, just not as long as it was but it will grow back.
She looked at me with such hope, so I told her the story of how when I was 15, I went to the hairdresser and got the most horrendous of all hair cuts. It was practically shaved up the back and looked like a pudding bowl to the front. From certain angles I looked like I had a monk’s bald patch on the top of my head. I got stares from total strangers in the street on the walk home. I still remember how my mothers face dropped when I walked into the kitchen. My father laughed until he nearly fell over, my sister dropped her sandwich. It was shocking. I dealt with a couple of weeks ridicule at school and sometimes someone still brings it up (almost 25 years later), but it did grow back.
I thought my gentle explanation was telling her that not even I, her mother, was perfect, because when I was little my mother was the centre of my universe. She knew everything and it was only age and common sense that made me realise she was only human too.
My darling child looked me in the eye and told me not to be silly, nobody’s perfect.
How did she get so smart?
For the record, her hair is beautiful, absolutely beautiful and it still holds her smell perfectly, which I crave daily.