Hair we go.
Our number two daughter and child, C, is a wonderful example of how two parents contribute genes to their offspring but have no control over how they are expressed. I am blue-eyed, redheaded and relatively un-curly (or so I thought — more on that in a minute). Husband/Father is hazel-eyed, brunette and….well, bald now but curly back in the day.
C is blond, has curly curly curly, and has one blue eye and one brown eye. Did I say curly? This baby girl was curly from Day 1, and just got curlier as the years went on. As you might expect, there was not a cuter child in the Universe. Look:
Am I right? (It’s okay, you can agree with me. We won’t tell anyone, like your own children.)
She’s still pretty lovely, just bigger and curlier:
Somewhere along the line, however, C got the message that she wasn’t cute as a bug. That her eyes made her different — in the bad way, of course –and her hair….Oh! Her hair….It became the bane of her existence. She hated it.
She had plenty of reasons to hate it, for sure: In the morning she looked like a wild animal; it tangled mercilessly; enormous mats would form at the nape of her neck; it couldn’t be tamed; it didn’t “swing” the way hair was “supposed” to; strangers commented on it and wanted to touch it. (This last one I remember well — as a baby redhead my hair would draw uninvited touches from strangers almost daily. It was weird, and it was annoying.)
One time, about six years ago, my father brought a book over for her called Curly Girl. He didn’t crack the cover (he’s not a curly girl, you know) and assumed it was one of those amusing “guide to life” kind of books. Turns out, it is not. What it is, is the Bible for Curly Girls. Part self-esteem manual, part how-t0 guide, it provides the ignorant with all they need to know about curly hair. It was waaaaay to old for a then-5 year old curly girl, but her mother lapped it up and had a brainstorm.
The author, Lorraine Massey, is the founder of a salon in New York City, Devachan, that has built its reputation on the cuts and care of curly hair. (And no, it’s not Oidad — although that’s another one.) I decided that, living in suburban NJ within a stone’s throw to New York City, that C and I would make a birthday trip into the City and get her hair cut at Devachan. I made an appointment with a stylist named Carlos, and off we went.
The experience was eye-opening. I won’t trouble you with the specifics of curly-girl hair (email me if you want specifics!), except to say that curly hair is Special and therefore requires Special Care by way of the kinds of products used, the kinds of towels you use, a determined lack of appliances (*no* blowdryers, people!) and, most alarmingly, no more shampoos and rinse-out conditioners.
Carlos worked his magic on C, under my watchful eyes. He was charming and funny and C fell in love with him. The salon experience made her feel that her hair was wonderful and amazing and so was she. It was worth the trip for sure, and we have continued to go to Carlos for all of C’s Curly Hair Needs.
At one point during that first visit to Carlos, he turned to me as I was standing there and said, rather casually, “You know, you have just about the same hair as your daughter,” to which I demurred, “Uh, you’re nice but wow are you wrong.” But he insisted, “Do what I’m telling you to do for C and for God’s sake stop cutting it, and you will have hair like hers.” I didn’t believe him. For all of my then 35+ years, I had hair more or less like this:
But Carlos was doing my Baby Girl right, so I decided to follow his rules. The result? I couldn’t have ever imagined it myself:
Apparently, the guy knows what he’s talking about.
So my Curly Girl and I live our lives according to the decrees set forth by Carlos — we don’t shampoo, we leave in the rinse out conditioner, we get our hair cut dry first, then washed, and we visit NYC twice a year for
maintenance our face time with Carlos. And, lest you be hyperventilating over the idea of a trip into NYC for haircuts, with a child no less, let me just say this: including the tolls and parking, the haircuts for C and me cost less than (what I am told) a cut/color/highlight event costs the rest of the world — but some of you do that way more often than twice a year!!
Did my Curly Girl salon brainstorm have the desired effect on C’s self-esteem and hair image? The jury’s out — some days yes, some days no. Such are the vagaries of an adolescent girl, you know? But I do know this? Twice a year (well, okay more than that but you know what I mean) we look really good and get lots of la-la’s for having curly hair.
Our next appointment is in the Spring, on C’s birthday — at her request. What’s that tell you?