When it comes to Tarana's hair, it feels like she and I are fighting a battle on multiple fronts. To understand where I am coming from, you need to see her hair as it is now, in all its glory.
On a good day, her hair comes together in an adorable mass of ringlets at the back of her head that look almost too good to be true. I was once asked by a lady whether I had got her hair done at the salon. (Yeah right, because that's just the way I like to spend my time and money on a 3-year old old.)
However, on a bad day (and these are becoming more frequent as her hair grows), her head is nothing more than a riotous bunch of curls, each one doing their own thing, usually in different directions. Somewhat like the picture above but it has been known to get a lot worse.
The biggest problem, of course, is figuring out how to deal with the hair on the front since that falls all over her face. Every time my mother sees her, I get a lecture on the likelihood of this causing her to get a permanent squint. (Someone please point me to some evidence that proves this to be an old wives' tale so I can get some leverage here).
When her hair was a little shorter, clips would do the trick but now it is beyond their capacity to reign in the chaos. Also, she has an annoying habit of pulling them out (and losing them, don't even get me started that!). I have been trying elastic hairbands out lately but they too lend themselves to easy removal. The only way to ensure that her hair stays reasonably neat for school is to do the classic two ponytails, one on either side of her head.
This is easier said than done for she hates having her hair put into ponytails. There is a lot of whining on school mornings, when my tolerance for whining is at its lowest. There is also a lot of fidgeting, which plays havoc with my novice-levels skills in parting hair in a straight line. On most days, she leaves home with an uneven parting and even more uneven ponytails.
It's not just the grooming part she takes issue with. She hates head baths with a vengeance. It's only very recently that she has stopped bawling her head off every time her hair was washed. She kept this up from her first hair wash as an infant right up to about three weeks ago. If you were standing outside our door and hearing the commotion on these days, you couldn't really have been faulted for reporting us to the child welfare authorities!
She also refuses to let me apply oil to her hair. Success on this front requires holding her firmly between my knees while I quickly massage the oil into her hair and scalp. As you can imagine, this generates some pretty violent protest and is not something I feel up to attempting on a regular basis. As a result, her violently curly hair is often also violently frizzy.
At this point, you are probably wondering why, given my litany of woes, I don't just take her to a salon and get it all chopped off. Well, mostly because she has flatly refused to submit to anything of the sort. The last time her hair was cut was about 1.5 years ago and there was a lot of shrieking, wailing and flailing involved. A few months ago, I did manage to get her into a hair-cutting salon but she created such a ruckus when they sprayed her hair that I decided it was not worth the fuss (and judgmental looks from the other patrons) to go through with it. Unlike her brother at the same age, she is not open to bribery (lollipops worked for him), distraction (my trusty iPhone does not tempt her enough to subject herself to the barbarity of a haircut) or threats.
In fact, the threats work only in reverse. The only way I can get her to submit to wearing hair accessories is by threatening her with a haircut. The fear of a haircut is the only reason why the ponytails are still largely intact when I go to pick her up from school. Her latest response to our entreaties to let us get her a haircut is: 'I will have a haircut when I become a boy.' Er... oh-kay then.
This post would not be complete without a mention of my struggle to find a good source of acceptable, good quality hair accessories. The worst of the mass-produced, poorly constructed, merchandised crap seems to be reserved for this category. Most aren't really up to the task of reigning in Tarana's hair and even if I were to overlook the overwhelming pinkness of the clips and hairbands in the market, most are far too shiny and/ or over-the-top for regular wear. And then there are some that are just plain creepy: