"Do you know what your grandmother did with MY hair when I was a little girl? When she got tired of fighting with ME to brush it?"
"I KNOW, MOM!!! SHE CUT YOUR HAIR AND YOU LOOKED LIKE A BOY AND EVERYONE THOUGHT YOU WERE A BOY!!!!"
In the photo below, I'm at the Bronx Zoo dressed in a terry cloth romper that was super itchy, but that would now be totally hipster retro if I had an adult size version of it today. And, I look happy despite everyone thinking I was a boy all the time.
"WELL?!?! Do you want everyone to think I'm a bad mom?!"
I recall my own mother telling me that I looked like "a child from Appalachia," (which until I was a teenager I thought was a foreign country--thanks NYC!); that my hair was a "rat's nest"; and that child services would take note. I knew my mom, a former foster child herself, was half-joking about the child services part, but having now encountered a few such situations as an adult, poor grooming actually CAN be a red flag. Just saying.
In this tearful exchange with Paige--which we had been reciting daily to each other like a bathroom catechism---I was violating numerous promises I had made to myself as a parent: I will not engage in fights over vanity. I will not play to Paige's native hatred of all things boy by resorting to gender stereotypes in order to secure compliance with hair brushing. I will not tell Paige cautionary tales of the dreaded "green brush"--the harshest implement in my mother's hair brushing toolkit. I will not cite the judgment of others as reason to modify one's own appearance.
The fact that a plastic green hairbrush was the deepest childhood trauma I could unearth for my own daughter's edification says something good about my own mother and nothing too good about me.
But that's alright. Paige finally had enough of me nagging her to take a shower and lifting the hair up off the nape of her neck to reveal the massive snarls lurking just beneath a light layer of brushed hair, pronouncing them totally unacceptable, and then attacking them violently with a hairbrush while she screamed in rage and attempted to wriggle free and flee my clutches.
She quite sensibly decided shorter hair would be better, and acquiesced to a haircut. In this my daughter has wisely taken a cue from Becky With the Good Hair.
Short hair don't care!