Back in August, prior to her having come to us with her “secret”, I took George (n.c.i.) for his (g.c.i.) annual back-to-school haircut. It was late in the afternoon after a busy day of buying the obligatory new sneakers and logging a few final hours at the pool. We went to the nearby SuperCuts and, as I had for the previous nine years, told the stylist to give him (g.c.i.) a “regular boy’s” haircut. (Hmmm…there’s that irony again). Despite his (g.c.i.) protestations, I asked her to make it short enough that it would last for a while as I knew how crazy the opening weeks of school can be. George (n.c.i.) sat stoically while the stylist snipped away, not making a sound (I should have known then that there was something amiss…George was never without chatter.) A picture is worth a thousand words:
What I didn’t capture on film, but is forever etched in my brain, are the genuine, choking tears that followed once we got into the car. Who knew that a haircut could truly devastated this child? It was not long after that when George (n.c.i.) told me with great even greater emotion than post-haircut of his (g.c.i.) always having felt like a girl. It would be the last “regular boy’s” haircut for a while.
It was agreed upon that a certain nine year-old would grow out his/her hair which is never an easy proposition: particularly when one is anxious and impatient. (That was me, actually. I think George/Jessie was a little cooler with it than I, mostly because he/she had no idea just how long it was going to take.) I decided that our SuperCuts days were behind us and that I would, when the time came, enlist my trusted stylist to do the honors in cutting her hair so that it would grow out. (The entire concept of “cutting to grow out” hair was a prospect that I learned at an early age to fear and loathe. Having been the victim of a “shag” haircut in the 70’s – for which I still have not entirely forgiven my mother – I know all too well the agony that ensues when attempting to grow out a thousand different layers. I had (not so) secretly vowed to myself that I would never put a child through that, but, in my defense, I didn’t know that George was soon to become Jessie, else I never would have gone the crazy layer route.) We went to JeanPierre, my hair savior, and he expertly did the appropriate snipping and, with his magic scissors, created a “regular girl’s” haircut which had a little sass and a lot of style. Why I did not snap a picture that day, I will never know.
Over the past several months, the hair has become increasingly at the forefront of the morning routine. Jessie loves to wash it, dry it, attempt to style it and I am pretty sure, tug on it to make it appear just a little bit longer. When she leaves for school it is neatly tucked behind her ears, giving it added shape and accentuating her (adorable) face. By the time I collect her at the end of the day, however, it is sitting atop her head looking much like a nest and far less attractive. For better or worse, it appears she has inherited the texture, bulk and quantity of hair like her mother. (This is a good thing, considering her father is of the shaved head variety.) Despite my gently suggesting (okay, begging and cajoling) her to remember to use those ears as an accessory, she never seems to remember. (She does, however, remember to torture me each morning with her pleas for mascara…). This morning, as she was eating one of her favorites breakfasts (peanut butter and jelly on Ritz crackers. Her second most favorite is a tuna fish sandwich) I came up behind her and slid a slim barrette on each side of her head hoping that those side puffs would be tamed a bit. She went upstairs to brush her teeth and returned looking like this:
The elation of having procured (with the aid of some water and clever hand-slicking) her virgin ponytail was palpable: note the smile. Sure, it is silly, almost fictitious, but undeniably a ponytail. Today will be forever memorialized as a milestone day in Jessie’s adventure. I now sit back and wait for her to tell me she needs a Keratin treatment…