Hair Today, Gone Tomorrow

The First Cut is the Deepest–at least with hair.

Originally published June 8, 2012 

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When Muffin and Squeaker were infants, people often commented on one specific feature–their hair. They were born with full heads of hair, and almost everyone who commented assured us that the hair they were born with would fall out. “It won’t last,” they said. “Infant hair never stays.”

As the girls got taller, their hair got longer. The infant hair, in fact, never did fall out, and, rather quickly, each girl’s hair began to resemble Michael’s or mine. Muffin’s slightly wavy, lightweight hair resembled Michael’s from when he was younger. Squeaker’s thick, curly-bordering-on-frizzy hair was almost identical to mine.

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And as their hair grew, we learned the plusses and minuses of having little girls with long hair. I quickly learned that the girls’ hair naturally flopped into their eyes. Almost as quickly, I learned that the girls did not like headbands. I tried to use barrettes to keep their hair out of their eyes, but they wouldn’t stay in Muffin’s thin hair, and Squeaker kept pulling them out. Eventually we switched to clips, which the girls seemed to like better and which they had more trouble pulling out by themselves.

When their hair got even longer, we started pulling it back into pigtails and then ponytails. By the time the girls were two and a half, their hair was down to their waists. But we loved how it looked, and the girls seemed to enjoy their hair as well.

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Occasionally, Michael and I would discuss the state of the girls’ hair. We would talk about trimming it when the girls had colds that included runny noses and their hair got gunky. We would talk again about cutting it when it got very tangled or when the girls would pull each other’s hair, or the one time that Squeaker caught her hair in a zipper. But then the mood would pass and we would again be amazed by how beautiful the girls’ hair was.

Our babysitter trained the girls to sit patiently while she braided their hair every morning. And the girls’ friends in their play group loved Muffin and Squeaker’s braids so much that one of them asked her mother to braid her hair the same way.

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But then a boy in the girls’ playgroup turned three and, as is the tradition in some Jewish communities, had his upsherin, his first haircut. For the first time, the girls had a concept of hair that had been long becoming short. And a bit later, Squeaker started asking about her hair and whether she could have a haircut.

We started asking our friends with kids where they’d had their kids’ hair cut. We got a couple of recommendations, but there was no particular place so highly recommended that we knew that was where we had to go. And Squeaker became more insistent that she wanted a haircut. So we started to talk more about the idea, thinking that perhaps we would make a family outing of it. Muffin, however, had no interest. In fact, she said that she wanted to stay home when Squeaker went for her haircut. So we started thinking about scenarios in which Michael would take Squeaker for a haircut and I would stay home with Muffin.

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But then Squeaker started telling our babysitter that she wanted a haircut. And our babysitter came to me and asked if I would want her to cut Squeaker’s hair. She said that she had done her daughters’ haircuts when they were younger and that she had cut her granddaughter’s hair as well. Since Muffin and Squeaker are so comfortable with their babysitter, we thought this might be the perfect solution. We discussed ideal length for Squeaker’s hair and came to a decision that all of us agreed with.

The plan was for the babysitter to cut Squeaker’s hair on Monday after her bath, while her hair was wet. That way, Muffin could play in the living room away from the hair cutting if she wanted. But then Squeaker and Muffin napped longer than expected on Monday, so the haircut plan was pushed to Tuesday.

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So on Tuesday, Squeaker got her haircut. It’s an adorable style on her, and she looks lovely. And as soon as the babysitter was done cutting Squeaker’s hair, Muffin sat herself down on the stool Squeaker had been on and said, “My turn!” So she, too, got a trim.

Our babysitter saved the girls’ hair for us in individual bags with their names and the date and time of their haircuts. We will put these bags with the other keepsakes we have of their early milestones. And if Muffin and Squeaker decide they want long hair again, well, it will always grow back.

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This week’s column is written by Nomi S. Burstein.

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