Wednesday, March 26, 2008

The Anticipation of All Things Ouchy

It began when Bella was around two, her hair had finally grown out from fuzz that stood straight up nearly 6 inches off her head to pretty blonde waves hanging loosely down her neck. The hair wasn’t particularly thick; there were no tight winding curls to get matted together but some how my tender headed tot managed to get some mighty grown up tangles. Morning routine came with some very big tears as I picked my way through the mess. Yells, and screams, and an occasional thrashing of the head of course, accompanied the tears. Would you believe it only took this first time mother about 6 months to go out and purchase a bottle of spray on detangler? And it helped… each night after her bath there were only small two-year-old tears running down her cheeks instead of the great big alligator variety. The tears were, of course, were accompanied by yells, and screams, and an occasional thrashing of the head though and in the morning when there was no wet head to spray this detangling solution on the pick, or brush, or rake, or any other tool I could think of to smooth the way for a clip or rubber band brought great discomfort to my daughter and made me dread the activity.

We were still at it 18 months later. The only new development was that I was now using my expensive conditioner on her hair at bath time and the good news was that it did seem to work a little better than the leave in stuff that is made for kids. The bad news, Bella’s hair was now half way down her back and thicker. I had long since given up on brushing it through to the ends except for right after her bath. Instead each morning I would use my fingers just enough to pull up the sides so that it did not hang in her face. But unfortunately even this brought with it yells, and screams, and an occasional thrashing of the head still being accompanied by lots and lots of tears. I found myself almost brought to tears of a few occasions and am not at all proud of the way I would respond to Bella in my frustration with all the commotion. The biggest reason it bothered me was because I had discovered that it must have not really been hurting her that badly. One Sunday morning as we were getting ready for church my husband happened to be in the room while I was fixing our daughter’s hair. Knowing how she always responded to the task he began talking to her. “Bella, what color is your dress? What color is Hoss’ toy over there on the floor?” As they talked there was only a sudden ouch when I would hit an occasional tangle. I began to keep a bracelet on my vanity and if that were where I set Bella to brush her hair she would play with the bracelet. Another attempt to distract her. This helped as well as keeping her talking until it grew old to her and her focus was once again on the battle with the brush. It did not matter whether or not there was a single tangle in her hair the minute I started in she would “Ouch”, and wail until the task was complete. It was the anticipation of the tangle that sent into irrational hysterics.

One morning at my parent’s house my mother witnessed my brave attempt at a ponytail and this time there was no bracelet and no formal inquiry prepared to distract, just the yells, screams and tears. My mom was shocked by what she saw and heard and made several rational suggestions, take her to the doctor to see if there is a tender headed condition we were unaware of, shave her head, or deal with the unreasonable behavior. She had a few logical suggestions regarding the last approach and then continued to investigate further. When she discovered that I was only combing through Bella’s mane when absolutely necessary she kindly exclaimed, “Well duh, the more you brush the less tangled it will be.”

I went home and began to deal with the behavior and improved the grooming habits and then there was peace in our home once again. Well… where hair was concerned.

One night while I was peacefully brushing exceptionally beautiful blonde waves and apologizing after an occasional ouch and squirm I realized the similarities between my daughter and me. I wish I could say the resemblance was in long golden tresses woven with amber or a slender smooth back that that hair lays upon. Unfortunately where I found common ground with my little girl was in the yelling, and screaming, and occasional thrashing of the head. It seems that each time my heavenly father comes to groom some area of my life that so desperately needs it I scream out in anticipation of the pain I have not yet experienced. And in this brushing through there may be an occasional catch that is uncomfortable for a moment but many times it is smooth and painless if I will just sit still and let him do his work. The awesome truth is that the more I will allow him to do his tidying up the easier the process becomes. Leaving what was once knotted and dull now soft and glimmering.

My similarities to the Lord are much less obvious than those I would liken to a three year old. But in this particular instance I am glad. Contrary to my own bad attitude and frustrated grumblings toward Bella when she complains, my own stylist uses a soft encouraging whisper to assure me that it will be all right.

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