Saturday, November 23, 2013

Cutting HmG's Hair...big mistake?

Before the Chop
After the Chop

When HmG let me know she was ready to do her own hair, I thought there was something special I had to do to make it easier for her.  I remember brushing her soaking wet hair into a ballet bun for a competition and thinking to myself, "this is a whole lot of hair." Would HmG be overwhelmed?

HmG's hair grows naturally in layers, but all of her layers were long.  The layer from her crown to nape stretched down to her waist.  She has a lot of strands and each strand is thick.  I thought to myself there was just no way she could handle it.  We talked about it briefly and decided to chop off three inches, hoping it wouldn't be too noticeable to others.

First, the chop was very noticeable to others.  I was dismayed to watch HmG explain over and over why her hair was suddenly so short.  She had to explain it for months.  After a few months she stopped thinking a hair cut was a plausible answer and simply agreed that her hair was much shorter.  This would have been no big deal except that while no one said it directly, their dismay was clearly communicated.

Second, her hair was more manageable but it was also very different. The shorter length shrunk more, making HmG's hair look even shorter than we expected.  If her long hair shrank 40%, her shorter hair shrunk 60%.  Add to that the breakage HmG experienced while learning to detangling without ripping her hair out of her head, and we were easily working with a five inch chop as opposed to a three inch one.  The styles HmG loved looked very different, and disappointing since she was aiming to look the way she had always looked.

Was it a mistake?

Yes--and one I won't repeat with her sisters.  I quickly learned that shorter and more manageable hair is an inevitable part of the learning process once our girls start handling their own hair.  HmG didn't need the head start I gave her.

I regret making her have to adapt to new hair when she would already have to adapt to a new process.

I regret calling so much attention from others to her, by having her hair look so much shorter. At 14, HmG's  self consciousness was already understandably hormonal.

I regret not trusting her to have her own experience, and overcompensating for a negative outcome.

I regret not talking to her more about it.  Neither of us are afraid of hair cuts, but I'm not sure she understood the change involved in cutting off that much of her hair.  I'm not sure I understood it.  I never expected her shorter hair to shrink more.

I am thankful that HmG is very adaptable.  The process has been very forgiving and her hair is growing back with a vengeance.  I am reminded again that no stage of learning is void of mistakes and that it feels fantastic to get up and keep trying.  At the end of the day, a hair cut is still just a hair cut, because nappy hair grows back just like any other hair.