Thursday, April 11, 2019

Zoe vs. Self-Sufficiency: Hair-Washing Edition

I heard somewhere---or maybe I read it---that the main idea behind parenting is to raise functional, independent, contributing members of society. This is my goal for Zoe someday. But before she can get a job, vote, pay her bills, etc., she probably needs to learn how to wash Her Own Damn Hair.

Teri tries a new shampoo with jojoba oil, coconut essence, and LSD.

Zoe was born with an impressive mane of hair, and so from day one I had my work cut out for me. As she grew, coincidentally, so did her hair. Along with that, she developed an astounding ability to acquire knots, leading to extreme anguish on a daily basis when I tried to get a comb through her hair.
She would cry, and I would threaten to cut her hair short, and she would cry harder, until I got a pair of scissors---not to cut her hair, but to excise the most recalcitrant knots.
I believe there should be a direct correlation between a child complaining about how they look and taking care of it themselves.
So this was a New Year's resolution. I forget if it was mine or hers. She would learn to wash Her Own Damn Hair.
For those unfamiliar with calendars, January first was a few months ago, and she's still trying to weasel her way out of it, putting the same mental energy for excuses and avoidance that she applies to other things. For instance, for Lent she announced she was giving up Airheads, a candy she had just finished from her Halloween haul and so there were none left. And they were not her favorite, something she told me every time she ate another one.
Excuses for why she can't wash Her Own Damn Hair:
Her arms are too tired.
She's too tired.
She needs to sit.
She'll do it tomorrow night.
Can't I wash her hair? I do it better.
Well, of course I do, but that's not the point. So I force the issue. And it is an ordeal for both of us.
A woman stands outside a shower curtain, glasses fogging up, trying not to get wet, getting wet, exhorting her child to actually put her head back so that the top of her head gets wet and not just the ends of her hair. It's like she thinks her hairline begins way in the back of her head like the beverage-refusing Gestapo agent from Raiders of the Lost Ark.

Bet we're thirsty now.

Mother: Put your head back. Farther back. Farther. Your hair's not wet yet. Tilt your head, tilt it, get the hair by your ears wet. Put all your hair back. Behind your shoulders; you still have some in front of your body. Pick it up IN YOUR HANDS and place it behind your bodeeeee. Oh my god. The hair above your ears is completely dry!
Child: After this can I have candy?
And this is before we even get to the shampoo, which, when I pour it into her hand, she proceeds to place it, carefully and precisely, on top of her head, like she's balancing an egg.
Mother: Rub it in. Work it IN to your hair. Lather up. Move your hands. More. Gather your hair on top of your head. Do it!
I'm yelling, I'm wiping my glasses on my damp pajama shirt. I might as well just get in there with her. 
Maybe 35 percent of her hair gets sudsy before I give up and tell her to rinse it out.  (Put your head back. Back!) Then there's the conditioner.
Two roads diverge, if you would. Down one: present yelling and crying to get the knots out of her hair. Down the other: still yelling and crying, but it comes farther down the road after she's dry and in her pajamas and I have to comb the knots out. So actually it's more like two roads converge or there's a wormhole or a wrinkle in time but instead of a wrinkle it's a snarl of blond hair.
And something else. This is a child who, with one minute before she has to leave for school in the morning, asks me to style two symmetrical mini buns in her hair so she can look like an individual named "Dove" from Roblox YouTube video, as if she's ever known her own mother's hair to vary from one of two styles: a) in a ponytail holder and b) just released from a ponytail holder so there's a semi-permanent bend in her hair from where the ponytail holder was.
So I censor my first few responses (my curses have more range than my hair styles) and ask her, "Did you at least brush your hair first?" Because I'm trying to get her to do that too.
"Yes?" she says.
I run my hand through her hair only for it to get caught halfway by an enormous knot.
Time for the scissors.

Zoe: 193; Universe: 0

If you enjoyed this post, you may enjoy Zoe vs. Picture Day.

For more of Zoe's hijinks, follow me on Facebook and on Twitter at @zoevsuniverse
I need a win here, people. 

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