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How To Fight Big Hair
from Free Pecan Pie and Other Chick Stories
When our children were young, I had a friend who told me it was time for her five-year-old son to go to school—she had taught him everything she could.
I looked at it this way: the teachers could teach my daughter all of that 3-R stuff—I was never good at it anyway. I could teach her about fine literature, art, the history of oriental carpets—and how to make tiny guest soaps in little plastic muffin pans with a microwave.
Okay, so all we did was buy the book with the soap recipes. We never actually got around to making the soap. The book is probably still on a bookshelf somewhere next to the ones on One Hundred Ways to Braid Your Hair and How to Have an Archaeological Dig in Your Own Basement.
When she was about eleven, we reached a point where she had her own ideas, so her father and I invented “mini-scholarships” that we tucked into her Christmas stocking. I think that most of the money went for sheet music, extra flute lessons, and Judy Blume books. Even with the scholarships, she still had plenty of time leftover for camping and fishing trips, cooking lessons, and documentaries on the educational television channels.
There did come a day, when she was a senior in high school, she said she’d learned all she could from me. It was time for her to move on. From what I could tell, she’d moved on to big hair, frosted eye shadow, and boys.
No! She couldn’t quit on me now, I still had so much to share with her! I was already looking into opera tickets, museum passes, and jazz concerts.
I was on the county art commission at the time. Each day, my mailbox was filled with colorful brochures from art galleries. I wanted to share them with her, but she was too busy curling her hair and talking to boys on the phone. Stacks of colorful pamphlets stacked up on the windowsill of her room. Unread. I knew they were unread because they were covered with dust. Any parent who knows her stuff can tell you that printed materials in a teenager’s room that are actually being read are covered in food crumbs.
Something had to be done fast. The stacks of art brochures were beginning to block out the light in her bedroom. Since the bedroom was already facing north, it got too little light to begin with. If one of us didn’t back down, she could be facing a health problem. Maybe I should start slipping vitamin D into her colas?
I noticed that, each morning, she got up early and sat cross-legged on the bathroom cabinet for at least thirty-minutes while she tortured and sprayed those straight locks into curls tight enough to last through outdoor gym class in the rain. There was only one curling iron, one electrical outlet, and one mirror. Desperation spawned inspiration. Maybe I could make that big hair work for me!
That night, I sat down and cut out each little picture from the brochures and taped them to the mirror right in front of where she sat to curl her hair. Some were beautiful. Some were funny. Some were just plain weird. Each day, after she went to bed, I put up new pictures. Each morning, she’d go into the bathroom and while the curling iron heated up, she’d take down the pictures—one by one. Over and over she asked me to put them someplace else. She never did catch on that they were just where I wanted them: in her way. Soon, the stack of art brochures on her windowsill was gone. Only the dust was left.
She’s older now. Styles have changed. The hair is much shorter and less time consuming. The garish eye shadow has been replaced with more subtle colors, and the boys have been narrowed down to two: a husband and a young son.
She really has moved on, but I’ve kept those pictures in a file. Someday I might use them again—when my grandson decides he’s learned all he needs to know from me. I’m thinking I’ll glue them all over the backboard on his basketball hoop. Now if I can just figure out how to get up there—and back down without breaking my neck!
Free Pecan Pie and Other Chick Stories, Paperback & Kindle. Illustration is not in the book…
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