My father's family has some crazy in it. From severe control issues to basic OCD, it's watered itself down through the generations, but I can attest that it sneaks out in me when it comes to a few certain issues. Sadly, for my girls, one of those issues has to do with their hair.
My girls have fine, flyaway hair with just a touch of a natural wave. Throw in a weird part and some cowlicks, it's a recipe for disaster. G's is the worst, M's is more normal, but by the end of the day, they both have the ability to look like someone has held a hand mixer to the back of their heads for a while.
From shampoo to haircuts, this has been a terrible, frustrating nine-year quest for me, one that has spurred an argument or five between me, my husband, and my kids but one that is thankfully winding down as they have gotten older and we have found solutions to the issues.
Let's start by discussing the haircuts. As someone who is still traumatized from many a bad haircut when I was a kid, I can't quite express the level of stress I experience when it's time to get my own hair done. My very mild OCD comes out at its worst at these times because cutting my hair is not something I can do myself, thus I cannot personally control the outcome. I am terrified of being stuck with a style that makes me look horribly ugly until it grows out, and I obsess when it's done over whether it's even on both sides, and on and on.
This obsession has, of course, transferred to my worries over my girls hair. I know it needs to be cut. I want a nice style for them that doesn't look butchered. I want it even. For M's very fine and relatively straight hair, should we do a rounded bob, a blunt cut, a straight-across trim? What would look best? What would work best for her hair? For G, whose hair is, literally, all over her head, grows so freaking slow, and truly has reminded me of Jeff Daniel's hair in Dumb and Dumber, I need someone who can work magic on it with some masterful style that will make it look normal. I need someone who will not screw it up, because I know if they do, it will take two years to correct.
I don't want to pay big bucks for a kids 'do, but also don't want some random person at a walk-in to botch it. I won't have my children going around looking like they've been attacked by a Flowbee. So, I literally hyperventilate at the thought of getting their hair done. I mean it. I hyperventilate.
I have found that there are really just three options for a kids cut. You can go to your salon and have your person do it. This will cost anywhere from $25 with tip. You can go to one of the specialty kid salons and pay $18. Or you can pay $10 at one of the walk-ins and hope for the best. I have done all of these options and have yet to be satisfied by any experience.
At the froo-froo salon, it came down to an issue of value. It's hard to justify $25 for a kids cut. I mean, it's a trim. I didn't feel, as far as the cut itself was concerned, that I was getting my money's worth. The ONLY advantage to it is my stress level was mitigated. I felt a lot better about my person cutting their hair because my person is really, really good and I knew if nothing else, the cut would be straight. Plus, she gave me a really good tip about taming the flyaway frizz that involved adding just a little bit of regular conditioner to a spray bottle and fill the rest with water. It will help tame the tangles, it won't make their hair look greasy (I swear!), it makes it soft, and is all around the best advice I've gotten so far.
The kids cut place - the one that specializes in children - yielded mixed results. They were nice in that they put in a video for the kids to keep them still and quiet during the cut. And usually, I was okay with the results. They did a really good job for a while and they put up with me hawking over them as they cut the girls' hair. But, they are also the place that gave G the bad bang cut - the one that started way too far back on her head. They also had a tendency to rush during the busy times (like holidays) and for $18, I'm not putting up with that. I usually avoid haircuts during the holidays but sometimes it's unavoidable. After one particularly rushed cut, I went back for a re-do, and that was the end of things for me. Besides, once your kids get to be about eight or nine-years-old they're too cool to go there anymore.
The walk-in places are so hit or miss. You never know who you're going to get - stylists move in and out of those places like a carnie after the show is over - so you might find someone you really like only to have them disappear forever after a year or so. You basically walk in and get whoever's next on the queue, unless you do have someone you like that you can request. Not to disparage all those in the haircutting profession, but I don't like having to choose between the chain-smoking 60-year-old who's been around the block and has "uneven bowl-cut" written all over her, or the 40-something chick with the dyed-black Motley Crue hair and tats.
The most recent haircut we got was at a walk-in. There is one woman there who has done an okay job with G's hair in the past, so I have asked for her a few times now. It's pretty much a dry-cut, which I've had to work hard to deal with, and she sort of just goes at it, but for G's wave and frizz, I guess it seems to work. But I wasn't happy with the job she did with M's, who has straighter hair. The same approach yielded a really uneven mess with long little pieces here and there amongst what was supposed to be a straight, even line. Of course it wasn't obvious until we got home, sent me into a controlled fit in the bathroom, and found us back at the strip mall several hours later where Motley Crue re-cut it for me so that it was straight. But, because of this experience, I am no closer now than I ever was to knowing what we will do the next time we must go get their hair cut. I have actually considered taking a course on cutting hair, just so I could do theirs well, a basic trim, until they're old enough to warrant a trip to the more expensive place. It drives me nuts that I can't cut their hair myself. I have managed to control the urge more than once, knowing, thank goodness, my limitations.
I've often thought how lucky the moms are who have boys. A quick buzz cut on number two, and they're done. Unless they're the weird mom who insists on giving her kid a bowl cut well into his later elementary school years. Sorry, but bowl cuts on boys are so dumb. But I digress.
On to the maintenance.
All was well when it came to hair maintenance until my girls became old enough to shower on their own. Then all hell broke loose. When I suddenly was not the one overseeing the lathering, rinsing, conditioning and rinsing of the hair, the OCD issues reared their ugly head. My poor kids. We spent endless nights going over how to properly wash their hair. A quarter-size amount of shampoo. No, a little more. Don't twirl with your fingers - get in there and scrub it! Don't forget the sides, the top, the back. Rinse it. Rinse it all! RINSE IT!!! Oh, and the conditioner... wow, they just can't get that right. We have tried kids 2-in-1 products, adult 2-in-1 products, separate shampoo and conditioner and just shampoo, with a light spray of the conditioner in a bottle. Eureka. In the end, that was the solution that finally worked for us.
Add to this the fact that I work two nights a week and must therefore relinquish control to my husband and to the girls. I have sent my children back to the showers in the morning more than once to correct what I perceived were inadequacies in their hair washing prowess. Oh, the arguments between them, and me, and my husband over this nonsense! Oh, but he just doesn't understand the long-lasting social issues that it will cause my daughters if they go to school with bad hair.
He insists that if they end up on the psychiatrist's couch as adults, my hair issues will be one of the main reasons. I don't disagree.
Where are my poor daughters in all of this? Well, they've learned to put up with me. M, God love her, is patient beyond her years, and just goes along with me. They both know that the hair is just my weak point. They (barely) put up with fifteen minutes of hair brushing to get their ponytails just right - no bumps, no weird separations. They put their feet down at me blow-drying and styling each day.
They are older now, and I have just, in the last 6 months, gotten to the point where I leave them alone about their hair. Usually. I know I have to let it go, and let them feel good about what they're doing.
I feel only mildly better when I talk to my friends and realize they have their own OCD trigger points. One mom goes ballistic over how her daughters brush their teeth. Now, I don't do that too much. That's just really crazy!