Monday, August 31, 2009

Here Baby, There Mama

I once asked Rob what he thought was my best feature. I was barely off the F in "feature" when he answered, "Your hair." He was in love with my long hair from the beginning, petting it, burrowing into it, letting it wrap around both of us like a curtain.

As soon as Westley could grab, he grabbed my hair. By the time he was four months old, he was yanking it. I endured the discomfort, pulling my hair into ponytails and braids as often as I could stand, and offering him blankets and toys. But by the time he was almost ten months old, Westley was thoroughly attached to my hair. Since then, a number of toys have occupied the preferred position and Westley has a special green blanket that he cuddles every night and at nap time, but my hair has remained the favorite comfort object. In the mornings, he cries for it--"Hay-uh! Hay-uh!"--until I bring him to bed with me. I have to lie with my back to him, so he can hold my hair while he rests. I hate it, and for some reason, I let it continue.

Last week, I got my hair cut for the first time in five months. The six inches I lost were split, broken, abused. No deep conditioner is a match for that much twirling and pulling. I was sure Westley would notice. He didn't. He just reached up a little higher, yanking my neck to the side as he pulled. The next morning in bed, he pulled especially hard. I scooted away and rolled over. "No," I scolded him. "Get off!" I may even have growled a little. Westley hesitated a moment before beginning to cry, offended or afraid, or both. Rob took him away and comforted him. I lay there feeling monstrous. Maybe it's a ripple effect of the weaning, but now that Westley is well on his way to being done nursing, I suddenly really want him out of my hair.

As much as he loves my hair, Westley has never really seemed to notice his own. A few weeks ago, his baby mullet started to look increasingly uneven and scraggly. Even when he was clean, he still somehow looked messy. It wasn't bothering him at all, but I was having trouble not messing with it. I thought of cutting his hair myself. I trim my own bangs; how hard can baby hair be? But since Ruth, our wonderful hair fixer-upper person was back from vacation, Rob and I were both going in for haircuts anyway, and we knew Ruth would murder us (or at least make us look less-than good) if we didn't bring Westley in with us.


Westley was unsure about the booster seat set-up. He wiggled and squirmed and tried to get down, repeating "dow, dow, dow" as he slithered out of the chair. Rob offered to sit with him, but he cried for me. Two capes, one sippy cup, and a camera hand-off later, we were ready to go.

Westley would've loved to have played with the scissors and the clippers, except he was easily distracted by various things around Ruth's station. A stuffed pig! A teddy a hat! A cup with a straw! Whoa, a cup with a green straw!

He even got his very own purple comb to hold, which, by some hair salon magic, was enough to distract him from the clippers buzzing a half an inch from his ear.

I did what I could to stay out of the way, while also holding Westley securely. It wasn't until Ruth was completely finished that I realized just how short Westley's hair was. He looked like a little boy, all right, but he didn't look like himself.


That evening, watching Westley play in the living room before bedtime, I had the strange feeling that something was missing from his appearance. He was happy and energetic, but something wasn't quite right. He looked sharp, but a little off with no wispy hair draping over his ears and the back of his neck.

Right before bed, I nursed Westley. He held a piece of my hair between his palms and petted it, pulling a little to hard every now and then. I stroked his warm, smooth head. The recently-trimmed places on the back of his neck felt coarser, almost bristly. Not at all like silky baby hair. He looked...not cute, but handsome almost, no longer babylike. I hadn't really thought about his first haircut, and had come sooner than I'd expected. I felt a little sad. It's undeniable that Westley is attached to my hair. (Oh fuck, how am I going to wean him of that?) But I guess I hadn't realized that I was a little bit attached to his.