My son had his hair cut yesterday afternoon and already he looks like he’s been rolling about in the bushes after experimenting with a range of exceptionally sticky hair products and/or golden syrup. The poor lad has inherited my unruly hair, and although he doesn’t realise it now, a lifetime of hair related woe awaits him.
I fight a daily battle against the tangle of horrid that passes for my locks. It’s naturally curly, but in an irregular, ridiculous sort of way – a ringlet here, a scrunchy bit there, a silly fluffy bit to one side and so on. On a good day, after liberal applications of serum, taming cream, deep conditioner – basically anything lard based, it looks like this:
(which would have been a lovely picture if it didn’t look like Rory was screaming at me. He was actually yawning, but it just makes me look like an unfit mother whose baby hates her).
On a bad day, it resembles a permed Brillo pad. On a seriously bad day, it is defiantly pubic in texture. It also has fried ends and broken bits as a result of years of attacking it with straightening irons. To make matters worse, I have started to go grey at an alarming rate and the grey hairs stick straight up in the air like springs. This is not a good look. My neat freak ex hated it (and this was in the days before the grey started to invade). My husband complains when his fingers get stuck in it. But my mother, of course, loves it. In her head, I am still her adorable, curly haired little girl and her fingers itch to twirl those springy ringlets like she did when I was Rory’s age.
I have spent my life tussling with it and treating it with contempt. The thing about curly hair is how unpredictable and dishevelled it makes you look. I have ever looked neat in my life. It doesn’t matter how much I try to groom myself (not much these days, to be fair), I always have a few uncontrollable kinks and strands of frizz sticking out at odd angles, making me look a little unbalanced.
Last November, I got so sick of it that I had it cut off. Wild eyed through lack of sleep, surrounded by bits of Duplo, half chewed crayons and bits of squashed banana, with a loud and demonstrative 18 month old running rings around me, I wanted order in my life. The hair had to go. My hairdresser was reluctant, but I convinced her to chop it into a nice shiny bob (somewhat hampered by the opinionated old biddy having her blue rinse done in the corner of the room, AKA The Voice of Doom: "I knew somebody who had lovely long hair like yours once and had it cut off. It never grew back again", came the prophecy. "Your little boy won't recognise his mummy", she continued. "He'll probably cry when he sees you." God love the aged). It was amazing – smooth and glossy, neat, it only took a couple of minutes to dry every morning; it was a revelation. I started to wear smarter clothes and became more organised. Life was more by design and less haphazard. A hair cut really can change your life. I was a convert.
Well, I was a convert for the first two weeks, which were, incidentally, dry and crisp outside with a light layer of frost. On the third week, the rain started. Wow. Frizz on an epic scale, worse than ever before because there was no length of hair to weigh it down, so it stuck out horizontally from my head like a ridiculous, fuzzy, hat.
Ever since then, I have been going through the long and painful process of growing it back. I have banned GHDs from my life to prevent it from getting too damaged at the ends while it grows and am learning to embrace the curl. OK, it’s messy and tangly and erratic, but then, so am I. I have been disorganised and vague for my entire life so far and it appears to be my default setting. I am creative and jumbled and nearly always late. That is who I am. I spent years feeling guilty about it in the workplace, where everyone else seemed to be highly organised, and I definitely caused frustration to people who don’t function the way I do. But I don’t work for anybody at the moment. I run the household, I look after my son, I am responsible for my life, and I will do it the way I choose and the way that suits me. If we live in disorder, then so be it. It seems to suit Rory, who has defied routine from the earliest possible opportunity and is overjoyed with surprise events. I suspect that, along with my crazy hair, he has also inherited my propensity towards the chaotic. His messed up, cheeky angel curls make me smile, and for the first time ever, so do mine. When I watch him running about the house wearing one sock and nothing else, a range of food remains lodged in his hair, stuffing grapes into Richard’s trainers, I look down at my own odd socks and survey the mess of abandoned, half finished projects on the dining table and am delighted that finally there is somebody else like me. I’ll make sure I buy him a good hair gel when he’s old enough though.