By Jason Menard
I’ve interviewed Heads of State, I’ve survived Cuban customs, and I have weathered the stresses of weddings, moving, school, and work. I considered myself capable of succeeding at pretty much anything to which I put my mind – that is, until recently.
I have been defeated. And by my own flesh and blood. My insurmountable task? My two-and-a-half year old daughter’s hair.
That’s right, I’ve pieced together IKEA furniture despite the lack of a Rosetta Stone for their hieroglyphic-like instructions (and the inevitable missing or extra pieces that seem to have no home), but a simple pony tail falls outside the range of my capabilities.
It’s not for lack of trying. My wife has spent many moments stifling her laughter and offering (somewhat condescending) support for my efforts. My daughter has shown patience beyond her years in sitting there as I fumble along, my fingers suddenly moving as dexterously as a cow’s hoof.
This is just not a skill set that I’ve ever had to develop. I’ve always had short hair, and even my pathetic attempt to grow it out during my teen years only left me with an unruly mop that still wasn’t long enough to pull back. My almost 10-year-old son also has short hair, so that’s been a blessing in disguise to this point.
My daughter was even gracious enough to take longer than expected to grow her hair in, so I was granted a reprieve. But it finally happened, her hair has grown, and grown, and grown. In my dreams, my daughter’s beautiful hair turns into a Medusa-esque collection of snakes, hissing and mocking my inability to manipulate a ‘clippy.’ But, as always, my wife was there to bail me out.
Until recently. Off on a girls’ weekend away, she left me alone with my daughter. Before departing she generously put my daughter’s hair up – but that could only last so long. Eventually, she’d need to bathe, sleep, or just be a normal two-year-old and pull it out. And although I debated the merits of the Moe Howard look on girls, I knew my wife would kill me if my daughter went outdoors looking like she was on her way to an audition for the Mini-Pop Ramones.
So I bit the bullet. After her bath, after I dried her hair, I took a deep breath – and foisted her off on one of the neighbour’s daughters.
It’s amazing what the power of suggestion can do on a toddler. A simple, “don’t you like when [insert the older child of your choice’s name here] does your hair? You should go ask her to do it again!” No, it’s probably not the best example of parenting in the world, but I’d rather my daughter look like a little girl than like she should be ferrying a small keg of brandy around her neck in the Alps. I’m already barely getting by on colour co-ordination and matching outfits, so give me a mulligan on the hair!
Many of us go through various classes as we prepare for the birth of our children – but nowhere is there one on tying pony tails! And forget pig tails – I have enough problems with one, two might cause an aneurysm. Knowing what I know now, I’d pay any amount of money to attend that class.
And learning from my wife has proven fruitless. I’ve determined that it’s like when I watch those Italian game shows without the benefit of sub-titles – I get the gist of it, but the fine details are lost.
So what I’m left with is to implore all of you not for pity, but for understanding. Understanding not just for me, but for all those fathers out there. When you see us walking down the street, holding the hand of our shaggy offspring who’s braving the outdoors with a pony tail sticking out the side of her head or a dozen clips scattered haphazardly around her head, don’t point and laugh.
Our daughters have done nothing wrong but to put their blind trust in us – and our lumbering fingers.
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