On Horrible Hairwashes, Man-Eating Pigeons and Why Dogs Sometimes Seem to Be the Better Option

Some mornings take it out of even the most road-tested of mamas.

Last night, I had a great time out at the pub with another mama-friend. We laughed, gave each other "they said what?" looks from time to time, and enjoyed good beers in moderation. All was well with the world.

And by the time I'd dropped Kiddo off at preschool this morning, I was wishing I'd never left the pub.

Our family has a problem some of you can relate to: horrible, hellish hairwashing for the little one. Some of you will not be able to relate because your children have well-adjusted attitudes and relationships to having water in their faces. And good for you. In fact--freakin' awesome for you. Now please take your perfect children away from me, because their mirror-shine clean hair will only reflect my sad face back to me as I embark upon a bit of a pity party.

It's a well-deserved pity party, folks. And you can come party with me, even if you have perfect children, so long as you don't have any helpful suggestions on how I can make my kid enjoy getting his hair washed. I get this hangup he's got, on a really empathetic level. As a kid, I hated getting my face wet. Even now, I can swim like a dog, with my face up out of the water. Do not mistake my claim as an exclamation of wondrous talent: I know the person at the pool with their head sticking up like Lassie looks entirely Loserville.  I get it. As a mom, I have straddled the fence of relating to my kid and being completely and utterly exasperated with this screaming, clinging, crying aversion to water on the face.

Last weekend we'd tried our most reasonable last resort (aside from dry shampoo); we bought swimmers earplugs and goggles and still, the sad tears ensued. This morning, though, after Screamfest 2011 (I am so glad no one called CPS, because standing in the bathroom, holding him into the shower so Joe could finish rinsing Kiddo's hair, you would have thought we were strangling cats), I've decided to do what has been up-till-now unthinkable: we are getting Kiddo's hair cut, barber-shop style. Likely a buzz cut.

I can't tell you how heartbroken I am. This is all my own projected vanity, I realized, but damn! this is so hard! I've been his barber for the past years and everyone's loved that long-on-top fluffy mop thing he's got goin' on. So much so that people talk about his hair a lot. Which has filled me with a mixture of pride (my good handiwork and genes) and worry, because I wonder if his schoolmates and other little buddies hear their mom's gushing over Kiddo's hair and if it makes them perhaps like him a smidge less because he's getting their mom's adoration, instead of them.

But what gets deeper into the heart of the matter is the growing awareness that there are some things which I just cannot make better for Kiddo, no matter what I do. Kids are always going to have things that freak them out. All people do. I know that there are some things in this world that could potentially send me into a momentary, raving freak-out, but I'll keep that to myself and just say that I've mastered most of those triggers over the years. Kiddo hasn't had loads of time to get his head around his body's amped up sense of "I'm gonna drown" when he gets water on his face. This is just like trying to reconcile his intellectual understanding that pigeons do not actually eat people with his visceral, overwhelming fear that any pigeon who might stray by will gobble him up with an evil grin on its beak.

I think this might be one reason why my friend Linda says, from time to time, with a confused and chagrined look on her face: "Kids are weird, Hazel."

She once also told me that no one should have children 'unless they want it so bad their teeth hurt'. She's on to something there...

Sometimes I think Linda was genius to skip the whole human procreation thing and focus her time and energy on her dogs, Chickie, Danny and Jack. Her dogs are the opposite of Kiddo in so many ways. They like taking baths! They like getting all soaped up and clean! They come when called! They don't think pigeons will eat them! I don't want to trade Kiddo for the pups, (well, maybe Chickie) but when people get all uppity about other couples choosing not to have children but to open their hearts to a few pets, I don't join them in thinking child-free pet owners are selfish, self-absorbed people. Instead, I think they're pretty smart and that some aspects of the whole human parenting thing are incredibly overrated. Yes, the family name will be passed on (because there's a shortage of Wheelers in the world? Not according to the robocalls I keep getting for every J. Wheeler that's ever skipped out on their bills...). I adore my son, but some days, when it's all grumping and grumbling and dragging one's feet and Sudden Onset Dressing Dysfunction-- you know, when we "just cannot put my coat on Mama! It's too hard!" even though we did it in two seconds yesterday going out for treat-- all of this makes me think that the 'Populate the Earth' culture is blowing some serious smoke up our behinds. Rewarding? Oh yes, I'm waiting for my reward, especially after being told by my own Little Miracle that I am indeed a Bad Mommy.

I'm still waiting....

So, this weekend, it all gets clipped. I know I will have to pretend like I this is the bestest, most wonderful Big Boy thing ever, even though I am going to want to cry. The biggest reason for my tears, though, is not about Kiddo's cute hair. It's about the fact that here is a challenge in his life that I no longer know how to help or fix. My bag of tricks is upside-down, all shook out--there's nothing left in there. This is where I have to put up my hands and admit that this is something Kiddo's going to have to work out on his own. I can't do any more for him. I've tried for the last four years to make the going easy when it comes to hairwashing, but the time has come where the problem is placed squarely in his own lap. We'll see where this goes, and we'll keep trying to be positively encouraging. I love my little guy. There are so many things he is brilliant at. I don't know any other kid that has tried to make a banjo out of Tinkertoys and a hand drum. Do you?

And in case you are wondering, I can't even begin to wrap my head around the fact that we want to start swim lessons next year...and please, no helpful suggestions about that, either.


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