My eldest grand daughter has just commended her mother via FB Messenger on doing a good job on her youngest sister’s hair. There was the read-between-the-lines thing that implied though my daughter-in-law was second choice she’d risen to the occasion. That’s the sort of compliment I will never receive despite having a younger sister who back in 197something, would only ever let me do her hair. That was because our mother was a witch with the brush – ripping it through knotted locks that needed a gentle separation from the scalp with one hand and a little teasing tug or two with the comb. The few times I saw my mother vent her enthusiastic brush strokes on my sister’s head, I was grateful that I had never been allowed to grow my hair long. That was on the a list of things the eldest child is never allowed to do. The list gets shorter with each successive birth until the youngest reaches age 8 and it’s thrown away and the only people who remember it are, you guessed it, the eldest child who’s told to stop whining whenever the list of abuses is aired. All my school friends were allowed one of the animals tails – you know, pig or pony but I was left with stubbornly short hair and a cowlick my mother controlled using a readers a hint from the Woman’s Weekly. Sellotape. My wet fringe was sellotaped into position and when it was dry, you guessed it, the sellotape was gently removed. Or not so gently depending on the state of frantic-ness in the house at the time.
I left home when I was nineteen and by nineteen point five – I’d taken to my long hair with one of those razor cutter things and thought I looked damned good. Better than the last person I’d used the cutter on (brother Jeff) who was left looking a bit like a moulting rabbit. (Big eyes, twitchy nose). And from that point on, my hair has been more or less short and all those skills with rubber bands and combs disappeared. I did try to up-skill or is it re-skill, whatever, when the grand daughters were little but it was a job to catch them and to do all that chasing and leave them looking worse wasn’t really fair. I still remember watching the compliment giver from the first paragraph, heading off somewhere with one pig tail about 10cm higher than the one on the corresponding side. She didn’t appear to notice at the time but perhaps it has something to do with her well-developed hair skills now.
And on the subject of hair, I was recently asked why do all the girls have long hair and aways have it in a ponytail on the top of their heads? I had no answer and now I can’t stop seeing them everywhere. They’re like bald guys with beards.