Tag Archiv: hair

Failed Attempts with Petunia


Over the holidays, the girls and I found ourselves with the richness of empty time together in someone else’s house. Games? I wondered. Barbies! they cheered. The Barbies looked as boring as the ones at our house but perhaps I was misinformed.

I declined the invitation to join. (I don’t know how, I said. I’ll read a magazine.) Then I felt guilty and recanted. My cynical side was not amused. My creative side felt certain I could muster enough imagination to overcome my God given repulsion to so many long haired plastic women with deformed feet and monstrous bosoms.

Upon sitting down with assigned Barbie in hand, I spied a plate of plastic cupcakes. Both girls were grooming their Barbies. I looked at mine but she looked fine so I walked her over to get a cupcake. She wanted the green one, which turned out to be a problem because the  Barbie sitting at the table said she wanted the green one also. This was ridiculous. Table girl had been sitting there all night. If she’d actually wanted the green one she could have consumed it hours ago, but no, she waited until my Barbie politely asked for it to cause a scene. Things got heated. My Barbie had just stormed off when the girls interrupted to tell me I wasn’t doing it right.

I ignored them and walked my Barbie back over to the table. She and the other girl agreed to split the cupcake. I got them to hug, high five, and squeal, “sisters!” Nobody tells me I can’t do that Barbie thing.

So how are you supposed to play Barbies, I said.

You like do their hair and put on clothes and stuff, they said.

As far as I can tell the perfect Barbie would have clothes that disintegrate after 30 seconds exposure to air, thereby assuring that Barbie would be in need of almost constant dressing and accessorizing. In other words, a picture of hell. My Barbie was already dressed. They weren’t our Barbies so I didn’t feel right cutting her hair, irritating though it was. I sighed and my eyes landed on one of the ugliest pair of shoes I have ever seen.

Petunia (my Barbie) was thrilled. O my gosh, she said, I am soooo happy. These are like the best shoes, ever. Just look at all the little bumps. I have no idea how many toads they used to make them, but 100% toad skin shoes are like totally awesome, she added.

Mom, said Girl one, those are shoes for a completely different doll. They don’t even go with that Barbie. But you can use them if you want.

I took the shoes off and put them back on three times, thereby proving that they did go with my Barbie.

It’s ok, Mom, said Girl one.

Yeah, said Girl two, they weren’t made for her, but you can use them.

But don’t say stuff about toad skin, said Girl one.

Yeah, said Girl two, that’s just silly.



2013-06-08 10.12.30-2

At an anonymous and unclarified point in time (assume ancient history out of generosity) I was combing Girl two’s hair. It was the morning of a busy day. The kind of day with thirty things clambering for completion on the list and only room for twenty if absolutely nothing went wrong. Girl one was already waiting in the car – after a none too gentle chiding for the explosions of contraband I emptied from her backpack.

Girl two’s skin is fair. Her hair is fair. Even in the morning shadows I saw the black speck dart through her hair. My fingers moved with purpose while my brain began a calming meditation about the silly ways that dirt can seem alive sometimes.

Don’t move, I commanded.

Ow, yelped Girl two in surprise as I tore at some strands of hair in hot pursuit.

It can’t be helped. Don’t move, I said again.

Overnight guests were arriving in less than ten hours.

It was not a piece of dirt. It was not lice.

It was a flea. I think.

I think this because our house growing up had more than one flea invasion. I remember the worst time sitting and watching the carpet hop like popcorn. Our only carpet here is on the stairs. I inspected. No popcorn. Ditto for furniture.

What do fleas do? asked Girl two.

They make you itchy, I said.

I was itchy as soon as I got in bed last night, said Girl two.

It’s true, I realized. She’s been complaining of itches every night lately. How could this be happening today?

I grabbed a comb and a cat and inspected. No fleas. I took the kids to school.

Boy two looked at girl two, somber. “I promise I won’t tell anyone at school that you have fleas,’ he said.

“She does not have fleas! There was one flea.  And it’s dead so she doesn’t have it anymore.”

I’m not sure that he believed me.

I got home and left a message for my husband to buy updated animal flea protection just in case. I checked the internet for signs and symptoms then resumed my search. Bedding clear. Mattresses clear. I found the wool blanket I added to Girl two’s bed last week with a small measure of relief. It would be a better reason to be itching than the unspeakable.

Meanwhile I’m itching. My head. My back. Even my fingers are itching. Wool blankets, winter dryness, these things we can manage. A flea invasion shortly before the guest arrival on the other hand . . .

I calm myself between mantras that it wasn’t actually a flea or that the flea market was a one man show.

Magic Fairy


When we want something to talk about, we play the Magic Fairy game.  We’ve never met her, but we are pretty experienced imagining her. The Magic Fairy can do anything the person asking the question says she can.

If the Magic Fairy came tomorrow and you could do any job in the world for one year, what would it be?

If the Magic Fairy could bring one new species of animal to our farm, what would it be?

And so it goes.

If the Magic Fairy came to our house, I asked a few weeks ago, and you could have any style and color of hair that you wanted, what would you choose?

My color, my hair style, said Girl one.

When I was 18, I knew a woman in her twenties who always to me, looked perfect. Make me look Kathy Schumann, I would say when I sat down at the hairdressers.

There is no one you would rather look like than yourself? I asked Girl one, cocking an eyebrow.

Right, she said grinning.

I could not imagine it, but that is what she said.


The other night, it was a family Magic Fairy time.  I was getting bored of perfect houses and event tickets. If the Magic Fairy came and you could change anything about your personality that you wanted, what would you change, I asked pleased with my question.

I’d be more brave, said one. Less impulsive, said another. You know where this is headed.

I wouldn’t change anything, said Girl one.

Nothing? You wouldn’t change anything about yourself? It crossed my mind that if she was that hard up for ideas, I had a few suggestions.

Nope. Nothing. I’m how God made me, so that’s how I want to be.


It only takes a swimming lesson, as Girl one decides once again if water entry and cooperation are in order for the day (or not) to make me tear my hair out about how to raise this child. She knows she has things to work on. She probably has more sincere remorse when she’s done something wrong than any of my kids. But for some reason, it doesn’t take her down for good or change the joy she feels about being who she was made to be.

Quite something, that.

Bold new world

Girl Knitting, by Alfred Anker

Girl Knitting, by Alfred Anker

Girl one is possessive about her hair. All trips to the hairdresser for a trim of any kind involve very vocal resistance and occasionally foot stomping. Which is why it took me by surprise when Girl one’s chief adorer, asked for a hair cut a few weeks ago.

I want my hair short, said Girl two.

Ok, but why? I asked.

I want to be like you, she said.

I did not think this was possible and so I stalled. A few days. A week. Reminders that one cannot have a pony tail and be like sister if one does not have long hair.

I don’t care. I want it short.

Three weeks later she was still asking . . . I thought you said I was going to get my hair cut. When are we going?

And so we went. And she looks adorable and perfect and more like herself than ever.

Do you like it? I asked.

I love it, she said. I look like my sister looked in the pictures of when she was little.

Hair Again

EmuGirl Two and I decided that this growing out your bangs thing was for the birds. We were sick of hair falling in our eyes and we were tired of barrettes. Off to the hair dresser we trooped.

What do you want done? she wanted to know.

If I knew the answer to that question, I would have been here weeks ago, I thought.  “I was thinking of growing my hair but I can’t stand hair in my eyes. I am wondering about having my whole head shaved,” I said.

Oh dear, she said. From here she began picking. It is a thing hair dressers do after I try to explain myself. Their fingers go in and out of my hair, pulling it out here and there. Hmm, they say.

You know, she said finally. (They always say, you know, even thought it is extremely clear that I do not. Another cause for long suffering. Now that I’m Catholic, we’re supposed to practice that kind of thing, so I guess it’s ok.)

You know, you have a very long face. Pause.

So I’ve heard, I thought. But I said nothing.

I never noticed it before. But now that your hair is longer, I really see it. You have a really long face.

What does this mean? I ask myself.  Is this how the famous are discovered? One day they are sitting there all round and unnoticed and then someone sees them at just the right angle, realizes they have a long face, and wala?

Then again, there are horses. All the, “why the long face?” jokes don’t seem to point in the right direction.

I have a long face too, she says. I think I detect wistfulness, but I’m not sure. She pulls at my hair a few more times. See? She points to herself in the mirror. I nod wisely, still trying to decipher if we are linking in sorrow or greatness.

That’s why I keep my hair up. My face is too long. She sighs and laughs.

I relax. The code has been inadvertently shared. A long face is something you are supposed to work to minimize.

Of course, mother’s former model acquaintance had said so when I was ten, but that was when leg warmers were in style. Now that it has been a bad thing twice, I am assuming that long faces are like warts and permanently out of style. I hope so. It would be rather frustrating to think that they’d been all the rage three times over the last thirty years while mine was busy flying under the radar of my traditionally shorter hair.

Decisions on Hair

Long narrow face with long hair

Long narrow face with long hair

The kids haven’t had a haircut since before school started. It’s been two months since my last hair cut. It’s not a movement. I’ve been feeling cheap, and they’ve been wanting shaggy. Hair is not something I have a lot of opinions about. In fact, very few of my hopes and dreams have involved hair. Only one really. I wanted to grow my hair quite badly once in order to be a real Indian brave. My mother pointed out that I was only qualified to be a squaw. The fact that I am a girl has at times proved troublesome to me, but I ignored her narrow vision of my possibilities. In my dreams, I was already running barefoot in my long hair and loin cloth, bow and arrows in hand.

I have a grade four picture to prove that by the times I was nine, my hair had grown at least a little bit below my shoulders. When I was ten, my mother met a woman who had once been a model. I have since realized that this kind of person can be dangerous. My mother saw stars and a woman with qualifications.

Fifty-Something former model declared that my hair was all wrong for my face. There was a formula. My face was long and narrow. I needed short hair. My grade five school picture notes the change. Sometimes I would look and the mirror and try to see my face the way she saw it. This thing now bearing a description seemed deserving of inspection.

The next summer my face spoke to Fifty Something again. Straight hair did not suit. She could hear my long and narrow face saying, “permanent.”  All school pictures from there on are identical give or take an inch. I did not change my hair again until I was in my thirties, at which point I finally stopped getting permanents.

My girls admire extremely long hair. The only strong opinion I have about hair is that it shouldn’t be in your food when you are eating. I have therefore kept them in bangs against their wishes, until now. My boys have grown tired of the tidy cuts I like. So yes, my children’s hair desires landed in lock step with my budget cut backs this fall. We are all looking a little shaggy.

“I’m taking everybody in this week for a cut,” I finally say.

“Mom, please, no . . .please, please, please . . .”

“It’s cheaper this way,” whispers my wallet.

Their hair has been bugging me for weeks now. Friday, I finally snapped, but not the snapped where we finally get our hair cut.

We’re not going to the hair dresser. Any of us. The guy with a job can see his barber. The rest of us are growing our hair.

I expect mine in particular will look fairly awful, but I would rather have tried it than not. Before I cut it short again, maybe I’ll stuff a few marshmellows in my cheeks and see if it makes any difference.


Birthday Girl

Dear Birthday Girl,

When you were born, I was so afraid I was shaking. Outside I was smiling but inside I was scared down to the deepest parts of me. I wondered if God had made a mistake – not about you, just about letting me be your mom. I wanted you so much the words for wanting you couldn’t get out without closing up my throat and coming out in a whisper. But you were a girl.  And a girl was me. And I didn’t have any idea how to be someone that you would want to grow up to be like.

You took care of that part, being so much yourself that I didn’t have to worry about you trying to be like me, I just had to love you. And that was easy.

I’m glad I got that little jean jacket outfit for you when you were a baby. Otherwise, I would have never seen what my kind of clothes looked like on you.  As soon as you could walk and open drawers, you tore off anything you didn’t like. Only the frilly stuff stayed on, so I could dress you in what you loved or find you playing naked and search the premises for whatever reject outfit I’d chosen.

Here’s a picture of my favourite present you ever gave me. You made it for me when you were about five, wrapped in tissue paper in a box and you danced while I opened it.

“You’re going to love it. I made it myself.” And then leaping and pointing. “See! It’s a rosary. There’s the beads. And the cross. I got it off the bottom of a toy car. I couldn’t believe it. Doesn’t it look just like a cross?”

Eventually, when summer came and the sun got hot on my dresser, I found out that you had used molasses for the glue to hold it all together. Three years later, the top of the coffee lid  medallion is still sticky. It was too perfect to change so I didn’t.

So much you have taught me, my curious, artsy, feminine, non-conformist.



Plastic coffee lid rosary