Me: "Who has the best seat in the house, me or daddy?"

Adam: "Well, Daddy's is nice, but yours is best. Your's is squishier."

Thursday, July 16, 2009

She wasn't mauled by a dog

"I have something to tell you, and you are going to be very, very upset."

It was a hell of a seg-way. I had just arrived to what was planned to be a four hour cooking session that would be rewarded with 16 freezer meals for me and each of my friends, when the phone had rung. It was my husband, and his opener had stopped me cold.

What could he be about to tell me? What could possibly upset me so much that he had to call right now to tell me? I immediately deduced by his tone that it was nothing dangerous or terminal or anything. There was no sense of urgency in his voice, but certainly a hint of reluctance.

"WHAT!?! What happened?" I insisted.

"Tessa cut off her hair. All of it. I think we are going to have to give her a buzz."

I slid down the wall and plunked to the floor. My hubby knows me well. I was more than upset, in an instant I was devastated. Her hair, her beautiful, sandy, shoulder-length cascade of tumbling curls. I choked on the thought of it, and my mind wouldn't even allow me to envision the masacre. Gone?

I welled up, hung up, and stood up. As silly as it seems, I felt like I had been punched. When I told the other ladies in the room they gave the consolation-pity face and the unsurpressed giggle, peppered with an "Aw, too bad." here and there. I plugged through the rest of the evening, my thoughts never far from the loss I had yet to face at home. Yes, I was dramaticly overreacting. But it was her hair!

I have been teased often for my adoration of Tessa's hair. I loved her hair. I loved it. I loved to touch it, to twist her soft curls around my fingers as she slept. To roll a spiral shaped lock upon her face so that it spun in a concentric circle perfectly centered on her sweet round cheek. It was more than hair, it was the past three years of our lives together in a tangible symbol of mother-love, child-trust. From the moment it became apparent that her hair was animated with the sweet bounce of my grandmother's curls, it had grown to be part of our ritual as she contentedly nursed, and I softly spun my finger, tracing the curves of the slow growing strands. Long nights holding a feverish toddler had found me passing the early hours stroking her hair into patterns on her head as I waited for her to settle into sleep. Even when I was half asleep, it was the way I would comfort her when she wandered into my room at night from a fitful dream, my hand naturally, effortlessly moving along her neck, pulling her curls together into one ringlet around my finger, over and over again, until we both drifted off.

It wasn't just hair. It was time. To me, it was the memory of all of our tenderest moments of her infancy and toddlerhood, and it had been chopped right off.

I psyched myself all the way home, repeating, "She wasn't mauled by a dog, she wasn't mauled by a dog..." and rehearsing to myself that she would look very different, but that she was still my little girl. It helped. Until I saw her.

Wow, that kid sure did a number on herself. Her head looked like that of an angst-ridden teenager with a dull pocket knife, minus a few dozen piercings and a spiked collar. Stubble poked out over her ears above one long curled sideburn, and followed around her head to the few remaining strands she had been unable to reach at the back of her neck. It was a right proper mullet. Her bangs had been shorn to about a half an inch long, and here and there on her crown a long lock fell to the side to reveal scalp. Periodically, a long pencil-thin strand of hair cruelly highlighted the contrast between what once was, and what was now. Thank goodness she was asleep and didn't see my shock as I started to cry. Oh, her beautiful hair, gone.

The next morning I sat her in her high chair and, with heavy heart, did what I never would have done in a million years. I cut off her hair. What little there was left. I removed the mullet, cleaned up the sides, and evened up her bangs. When all was said and done, she looked like a young Julie Andrews circa her Fraulein Maria phase. Tessa never even noticed it. In fact, when ever anyone has mentioned to her the obvious, "Did you cut your hair?" she corrects them smugly, "My mama cut my hair off."

To make matters worse, most folks remark with a smile, "Well she actually looks really cute! You would never know!" I should take comfort, but there is something else there. Some little thought, like the strand of hair I find on the floor three days later. It's the thought, no, the realization that at the core of my saddness and disappointment, there is a tiny wisp of fear. There is the faint understanding that I really don't have any control over what she might do in her life. She is at the begining of a long road, and she is going to do all sorts of things that I don't like, don't approve of, and that might even end up causing her damage or pain. I will have to sit back and hope all the times I have warned her not to play with scissors will, by then, have sunk in. And if she makes the wrong choice, it won't be so easy to fix.

Yeah, I am dramatic. I admit it. This mom thing has taken me to a whole new level of crazy that I thought was only possible from within the confines of a padded cell. I mean, she wasn't mauled by a dog, right? After all, hair grows back.

And by the time it does, that place int time that we were in will have been left behind, and the child she is now will have changed and grown.

I sure hope I can teach her not to play with scissors.


Melissa said...

Girl, you are just as good at painting a picture with your words as you are with a paintbrush!

rebekahmott said...

I love the new pictures. That makes the story more dramatic. But the good thing is she is just a cute!!