One of the most important lessons that I have learned as a parent is accepting that children will do typical things when they are ready. Not when we are ready for them to do it.
This has included my daughter walking early (ten months) to her potty training later than most of her peers. It also includes her not having the motor skills to ride a bike without crashing since she cannot pedal and steer at the same time (yet). Today, about two months before her fifth birthday, she got her first hair cut outside of our home. It brought me to a reflection on how far she has come.
The first time I cut Ally’s hair was around three-years-old. At the time I knew she would never sit in a chair long enough for anyone to cut her hair. I also knew it would scare the crap out of her based on other experiences like her visit to the dentist and her fear of lawnmowers. Between the sounds of loud blow dryers and the smell of nail polish chemicals and bleach, the thought alone was enough to dissuade me from going.
She was taking a bath and playing with her toys when I combed out the knots with conditioner. I showed her how to stick foam letters to the wall of the tub and that occupied her long enough for me to tie her hair into a perfectly brushed ponytail and cut a straight line across it with my meat scissors.
Completely oblivious to me, she remained in her own little world where she sang and named the letters as she stuck them to the wall. I trimmed a good 2-3 inches off the first time and it made me sad to see her little brown curls hit the ledge of the bathtub. But I couldn’t manager her hair being as long as Rapunzel. I cleaned up quickly and disposed of the evidence.
I swear, she didn’t even know I cut her hair.
About 7 months later, I had to do it again. By that point, she was on medication and was more aware of her surroundings. She cried when she saw the scissors and feared it would hurt. It took a long time to convince her to let me do it. But once I cut a little and it didn’t hurt, she was content as she sat there and played with her dolls in the tub. It was hard to cut curly hair straight and for the first week or so before I noticed, she had an uneven hair cut.
As five approaches, it was finally time to go and get a real hair cut at a salon. I waited until I needed one myself and we went together. This worked when she needed bloodwork done for the first time a few months ago since she watched me go and then had less anxiety about going herself.
She giggled as we sat in parallel seats while the ladies shampooed our hair. She said twice to the lady,
“I promise, I’ll try not to freak out.”They laughed and she said it tickled. I reminded her that this was just as relaxing as putting cucumbers on her eye lids. She smiled and let them wash her hair.
I saw her sweet and curious little face watching me as the girl combed and began sectioning and cutting my hair. She didn’t fight when they did the same to her. She squirmed and moved a few times but for the most part, she sat in the chair and let someone professionally cut her hair. She even let her blow dry it too.
There was a time when I worried this would never happen. That she would never let anyone touch her or cut her hair. She also got angry when she saw me getting my eyebrows waxed and realized she wouldn’t be getting a turn at that. After I explained to her that it hurt, she backed down. But it was still charming to see how badly she wants to be like her momma.
I feel like I learn something new each day on this journey. Some days have successes and others bring failures. No matter what the day brings, I keep telling myself never to say never when it comes to Ally. She surprises me every day.
Since December she has done two things I wasn’t sure she would do in the foreseeable future: she pooped on the potty and got a real hair cut!