“Oh dear” was all she said when she looked into the mirror. It was followed with a reassuring, “it’s okay Daddy.” But I could hear the sympathy in her voice. I know inside she was saying, “I wish mom was here to do my hair. She knows how to braid it.” Apparently, mothers also have some special touch not simply with the act of braiding hair, but also brushing hair in general. My partner is adapt fully at pulling the brush ever so gently through the jungle tangles that magically appear in the hair on my daughter’s head every night when she lays down for bed. Do elves appear in her sleep and begin tying knots? How is it possible that every morning when she awakes, her hair has become a nest for bundles of tangles and knots? I am convinced it would make a nice place for a little puppy to cuddle up and sleep for warmth. It makes brushing it however; at least for her father, a feat that would necessitate the use of a weed whacker to get through.
It is perhaps one of my greatest failures thus far of fatherhood; an important task left not accomplished. I remember in cub scouts getting a merit badge for knot tying. This however has nothing to do with those knots and last I checked, there is no merit badge for the art of hair braiding. I eased my own mind with some self-conscious reassurance. “You know, mothers are more adept because they had their hair braided as children themselves, learned how to do it on their own.” I had long hair, but not until I was in college and went through my strange, dye your hair blond phase of life. Even then, I don’t ever remember braiding it or having it braided.
I did some research on hair braids attempting to educate myself a bit on this particular accouterments of girlhood and I found out that indeed, hair braiding is an art. I was introduced to several types of braiding with names that sound more like gymnastic routines or nick names you give to friends in college: the “triple flip”, “the waterfall”, “the fish-bone , “the fishtail”, “a pullback”- and many, many more. In addition to braiding, there are other accessories that are braided or tied into the hair: feathers, extensions, strings and linen- this is not as simple as I thought it was going to be. But I began to read up on everything I lacked knowledge of.
- Cross Stitch and/or Knitting,
- Changing the Spark plugs in a car,
- Baking Homemade Bread from Scratch,
- Fudge Making,
- Ice Skating,
- Downhill Skiing,
- The rules for Cricket and Rugby,
- Training a Dog, and finally,
- Throwing Pottery.
I only beg that when you see my daughter walking down the street with her hair strangely knotted, in a hand knitted sweater with one sleeve too long, wearing a strangely bedazzled pair of jeans, with a dog on a leash that is clearly not minding- don’t blame it on her. It’s her father’s attempt at becoming a more involved and successful father. I hope she’ll forgive me.
Photo Credit: Sheila Hudson