Sprout’s ponytail was askew, causing her perfectly round head look lopsided. I had attempted yet again to do her hair and yet again the results were less than stellar. Earlier my fingers had been tangled in ropes of her brunette tresses as she struggled to pull away from me so she could chase one of the cats around the house. She won, breaking free with her badly coifed curls bouncing in seemingly every direction.
It took a long time for Sprout’s hair to grow. She was a bald baby for a while before straight, sparse hair overtook her pate at around 2 years old. I’m not sure exactly when it happened, but recently Sprout’s hair has sprung up like some sort of type-A Chia Pet. She now has a mop of long, unruly curly hair that gets in her face…a lot. This means hair clips. So many hair clips. It also means I need to learn a thing or two about hair care.
I don’t know anything about hair. I’ve had short hair practically my whole life (save for that brief period in junior high when I had a mullet*). I don’t even use a hairbrush, let alone clips or barrettes or rubber bands. The only use I have for rubber bands is making giant balls. Even growing up with a sister hasn’t helped. She used to cut the hair off of all of her dolls.
The hair stuff is really just the tipping point, the first symptom in a problem I became saddled with the minute our doctor said, “you’re having a girl.” I’m not good at the girl stuff. The first stark realization of this came while changing the newborn Sprout’s diapers. Since she was my second child, I was a little cocky when it came to the parenting basics. But I quickly learned that girls come with a whole set of new equipment that has a whole set of different rules to navigate. Though I had previously had some experience with the adult version, the baby girl parts proved to be intimidating. I was told one wrong move and infection could set in. It was all too clear that there was a lot I didn’t know.
As a pre-schooler Sprout has proven herself to be a girl’s girl, which means there’s a lot of foreign stuff orbiting my world these days: dolls with tutus, princesses, dress up clothes, outfits that need to be coordinated, glittery stuff, stuff with feathers, foreign sounding ballet moves and a plethora of hair clips that seemingly appear from the ether to bite me in sensitive places whenever I sit on the couch. I don’t want to paint myself as some stereotypical clueless dad, but I'm at a loss with what to do all of it. My son asks me a question about Bugs Bunny or Batman and I’m a walking Wikipedia. My daughter asks me to braid her doll’s hair and I’m completely paralyzed.
I'm trying to learn. I'm working on doing a better job with Sprout's hair. One day I hope to fix her mop without WonderWife™ having to re-do it because every failed attempt at Sprout’s hair is another reminder of what I don’t know.
*Don’t judge, it was the 80’s.