Wednesday, February 17, 2010

Hair today...

This photograph was taken two years ago.

The last week has been one of ups and downs. One might say it has been like a day at the park - a ride on the swing, the exhilaration of the slide and the odd tumble thrown in.

I didn't get the agent I wanted but I got a piece of flash accepted for the April edition of Eclectic Flash.

My daughter is about to turn nine. She has never had her hair cut. Lately she hasn't wanted me to brush it and has complained of kids at school tugging it - even though it's against school rules to touch another person without their permission - she doesn't tell on people though so she decided to take matters into her own hands.

The result is in a bag in the bathroom. I cried all night. Not for the hair - you wouldn't think the tangle in that bag could have looked so beautiful - but because brushing it was one of the last things my daughter needed me for.

She was sad for a while, too, but now she feels lighter. I am still weighed to the ground and can only watch her soar. I had spent so much time making wings for my novel I hadn't even noticed my daughter was trying out a pair of her own.

35 comments:

Mary McCallum said...

I've been catching up with your posts and am enchanted. This last one about your daughter's hair especially resonated as my daughter also kept her (long blonde) hair long while others went shorter and shorter, and then one day wanted it cut too. It was the wrench that you describe. Even more so when she went off with a friend one day and dyed it black. Why? It was something she just had to do. She regretted it a short time later and now it's back to blonde, and longer again ... And the thing is, while I'm not always needed to help with the hair, I'm still needed, in ways I don't always see coming. My advice: keep your metaphorical hairbrush at arm's reach, and keep a lock of that perfect little girl hair.

steven said...

rachel there's sadness in beauty. i love the idea of her growing wings. i see my own children and my students doing that. it's a spectacular process. secretive. the becoming. steven

catdownunder said...

You make me want to cry too!

Annotated Margins said...

I have tears in my eyes, because I know what a big deal that was to cut such long and beautiful hair. But, when I cut my hair, which was even longer, I gained two inches in height, because I felt lighter! (Even short hair needs brushing!)

Rachel Fenton said...

Thank you, Mary - I'll take your advice, and I have a lock with a baby wisp curl set aside.

Part of me is quite proud of her for having the guts (and lack of vanity) to just chop away but I miss that whole hair thing - even the brushing squabbles!


Steven, The irony is I'd been working on a story that is something of a role reversal of the Samson and Delilah story - life imitating art?

This is a new chapter for us.


Cat, have a cyber tissue! She begged me to sew it back on when it dawned on her how much she had hacked off!

Mike, that picture is a couple of years old, her hair was actually to her thighs. I feel annoyed with myself that I never let her enjoy wearing it down and free more - always thinking of practicalities/safety for school! Anyway, she said it's what's inside her that makes her beautiful so she's walking tall already.

Does anyone keep a lock of your hair?

Thanks all.

Elisabeth said...

This is a powerful story here, Rachel.

My youngest daughter was three when she elected to cut her hair, just before the Easter holidays. It shocked me strangely.

She is the youngest of four girls. None of her older sisters had ever taken to cutting their hair, but here she was at three, crooked fringe and great hunks cut out of her dark long hair.

The others had only cut the hair of their Barbie dolls when they were older.

It must be freeing, and so symbolic. Thanks.

Rachel Fox said...

Now, now..at 9 she still needs you for LOTS of things! The hardest years are yet to come (don't you remember being a teenage girl!).
x

Thomas Taylor said...

The world would be a drab and uninspiring place without mothers and their daughters.

Kass said...

This is such a beautiful post, as beautiful and expressive as I suspect your daughter is.

LimesNow said...

Rachel, my little girl is now 20. It went far too quickly. She doesn't need anything from me now. In fact, I likely need more from her than she needs from me. Bittersweet.

Donna Hosie said...

I kept locks from all three of my babies. *sniff*

Rachel Fenton said...

Elisabeth - she also had a wee snip at about that age - crouched under the kitchen table with a shiny severed curl in her hand - I had thought that would be enough to satisfy her curiosity!

It is symbolic, isn't it.


T'other Rachel - trouble is, I still do feel like a teenage girl a lot of the time! I know there'll be other things...

Thomas - you are so wry! Yes - just think how many misery memoirs would not be clogging up the sales tables of some mega chain bookstore right now!


Awe, Les, I really feel for you. I was always told to "let them go and they'll come back to you" - stock parenting advice, but it's very hard when you see the beginning of that letting go and you want to hold on tight - even for just a tiny while longer.

Been getting way behind with my blogging because of having extra silly time and cuddles in the evenings and longer snoodles in the mornings instead of switching the pc on!

Donna - it's heart wrenching. They never stop being babies, do they?
But somehow they make bigger babies of us...anyway, she came home and played with her dolls after school and - I listened in - she's still my little girl...

Rachel Fenton said...

Kass - I missed you there!
Thanks - my daughter is the spit of my mother at the same age - she's a stunner. I looked like a boy, all chubby oval face and short brown hair, but my daughter has turquoise eyes, high cheek bones and she's just as beautiful on the inside - but such dry humour!

Lori said...

Such an enormous change. Why do they grow up and why are we never ready? Every time my daughter jumps on me to offer an explosion of kisses and hugs, I cannot stop thinking, for a little fraction of a second, of the time that is coming quickly, when she won't give me hugs and kisses with so much generosity and pure joy. What will I do then? Why does any of us grow up to become so self-conscious and restrained?

Rachel Fenton said...

When that day comes, Lori, you'll have to be the one to jump over to her and give the hugs and kisses. I don't know where the restraint comes from. I've always been very reserved with physical displays of emotion - I practically freeze when someone gives me a hug - wierd - but I make sure I give heaps of hugs and kisses to my kids and hope they stay open and loving into adulthood.


Humour is what gets you through the other times - it can be the turntable to make a scowl into a smile and carry the family along when growing and life seems to want to make sad puppets of us all.

Enjoy these days, Lori, snoodle them and hug them and enjoy!

BarbaraS said...

I remember how light my hair felt when I first got it cut as a teenager... brings it all back :) Hard when it's a duaghter tho'

Titus said...

Very moving post, Rachel, but they do need you for much longer than you think - just in different ways.
The hair photograph is beautiful, and yes, it is strangely symbolic of a movement in your daughter's life, but it's not seismic. And you know it's the right direction.

Rachel Fenton said...

Barbara - it took a long time to brush it thoroughly and carefully and that I miss. She doesn't want her fairy costumes anymore either. One pair of scissors is all it took to cut my baby away from me. I'm happy for her as well. It's a good thing in the long run. She did say that she had a cold neck the first night though :(


Titus - It is different but I'm fast becoming accustomed to the new way. Glad I have the pictures to remind me though.

Thanks both of yous.

Liz said...

Sad yet very brave act on your daughter's part...love the symbolism of it - the moving on, the steps taken to set ourselves free...your daughter sounds delightful, lots to look forward to with her for sure.

Thomas Taylor said...

Rachel, I'm not as wry as you think! Sometimes I mean what I say.

patteran said...

That's a sad final paragraph, Rachel. We have these flights yet to come.

Rachel Fenton said...

Liz - yes, I certainly felt sad about it but I couldn't help thinking, well, she's got spunk, and I'm happy for that. Thanks - she is a very moral girl yet has this funny free will which sets her off on all kinds of bonkers crusades and, even when I know she's wrong, I find myself defending her!

Thomas - you know, at least you should by now, you can say absolutely what you like on this blog. And yes, the world would be a dull place without mothers and daughters (not to mention unpopulated). I miss my mother terribly yet, when we are together, she drives me more than a little round the bend - I don't want my daughter to sever ties because she feels she has too - I want her to have freedom and discover the world because she is free and confident enough to swing the world by its horns. Your comment touched a raw nerve and I used humour/flippancy to deflect it. I apologise. I do take on board what you say and I really value your comments/thoughts.

Thank you.

Rachel Fenton said...

Hey, Dick, when did you sneak in there?

Yes, it is sad. Do you think we do get to fly once we've handed over our immortality? It would be nice to think so.

pennygj said...

(I've struggled to leave a comment that isn't eaten by cyberbugs!) Hair is such an emotive thing isn't it? Firstly, I had a similar feeling with my second son, William. He was a cherubic blond baby, and I resisted cutting off his thick curls for far too long. When I eventually did, and found I had a brown haired little boy instead, I went into mourning for a while! Then, when I later had a daughter, with the thinnest whispiest hair ever seen, I waited forever for it to be long enough for it to be long enough to make a tiny, tiny, topnot onto which I could tie a ribbon. One morning, try as I could, I couldn't do it. Why, I asked? 'William cut my hair', beamed Aimee happily, not being able to see the tufty lumps framing her little face. After a trip to the hairdresser to try and make her look vaguely acceptable, it took another year before I could get the hair ribbons out again...

Rachel Fenton said...

Awe - Penny. I remember cutting off my own hair (after I had run out of long haaired dolls) - the day before my school photo, and again the eve before a family wedding! I had short brown hair most of my childhood!

Isn't it funny what siblings do?!

Well - you certainly make use of ribbons now - not that it's any consolation.

Why do we invest so much emotion into our children's hair?

Thank you for sharing this story.

WOMEN RULE WRITER said...

Oh golly, beautiful hair, sad story.

Congrats on the flash acceptance.
The whole agent thing is a minefield. I'm trying to find a new one at the mo. Bloody nightmare. I want a dynamo, or none at all.

Rachel Fenton said...

Hey, thanks.

What I cannot get my head around is that I have to find the best fit for whichever novel I'm submitting - but I've got three very different novels I'm trying to get published and I'm having to send them out to different agencies and I'm starting to feel all split personalities.

Sorry you're having a hard time finding one - not much hope for me then :( ....got to be one for us out there.

Good luck with the search - I'll recommend you to mine if I get one first!

kww said...

Rachel - what a posting. Congratulations on having the flash fiction accepted. . . How sad about your daughter cutting her hair. It is very hard to have to grow up and even more difficult if we don't. She will need you for many, many more things. Best of luck with the novel.

Rachel Fenton said...

Hey, thanks KWW (what's your name?) -
I am getting a steady sprinklikg of things published - need to put a thingy-bob list on my blog to show my progress really.

I'm not sure there is such a thing as growing up - society makes up a lot of daft rules and children are the ones who still find wonderment in the world and adults are the ones who have become numb. Oversimplified, of course - I must be an adult!

Thanks for the luck!

Ethel Rohan said...

Beautiful post and blog, Rachel. Thank you so much for visiting mine recently, and for your kind comments. Ditto.

I wish you all the best going forward and light always.

Golden West said...

She will never not need you, Rachel. I'm excited for to be published soon!

Rachel Fenton said...

Thank you, Ethel. Sincerely.

GW - I like being needed! I'm quite excited about the publication, too. Slowly but surely I'm getting there.


Thank you both of you.

Mare Biddle said...

Hi Rachel ~

Your post is lovely. My daughter is 14. She is more curl and bone and mush than when she was four. Every day she pushes and pulls, taking one step and then another away from me. When she gets too far for her own comfort she runs back. Your daughter will need you in about 20 minutes, and then she won't, and then she will. And on it goes... :)

Rachel Fenton said...

Hey, Mare,
that's sort of reassuring :) Thanks.

14...my daughter seems to have been a teenager for the past year and a half - can't imagine what actual teenagedom will be like with her. Ah well, I will embrace it regardless and hang around afterwards for when I'm needed.

:)

Dave King said...

Congrats on the flash. When you come to look back on this episode I dare say the situation with your daughter will seem not much more than a flash either. Blessings to you both.