Growing Pains

“It will grow out,”  I hear the words from the Lovely Lady’s lips as she talks on the phone with my daughter.  The pictures posted  earlier that day told the story.  Two boys, believing that they understood what their younger sister’s hair should look like, found the scissors and took care of the job themselves.  The result was not the picture of beauty they had envisioned.  To say that their mama was unhappy would be a slight understatement.  The little girl had spent two plus years growing the crop of hair she had and still had not yet had her first hair cut.  It was finally to the point that a barrette could be placed on the side of her head and elicit comments about the beautiful girl and her pretty hair.  Now, the uneven sides were joined by lopsided bangs and if you looked at the back, the scalp could be seen in places.  I think even Grandma may have had tears in her eyes as she listened to our dismayed daughter describe the fiasco.  It was a disaster.

What is it about hair that elicits such emotion?  My generation grew up fighting our parents constantly about the length and style of hair.  I remember a time when one of my brothers was angry enough to consider running away one night after a run-in with our father over hair and its acceptable length.  I even remember one of my most embarrassing moments which was precipitated by a bad haircut.  I realize that the picture included with this post shows what also should have been an embarrassing hair style (to say nothing of the amazingly fantastic slacks), but it was what I wore most of my years in school.  The haircut I’m remembering actually occurred very soon after this picture was taken.  I grew up with my parents cutting my hair, so this one was to be just like the multitude of cuts I had received before.  Dad must have been at work, so Mom took her turn with the barbering chores this time.  As she cut, she was careful to leave enough at the front that it could come down almost to, but not quite in, the eyes.  The problem came as she moved down from the top of my head to the sides, tapering the longer expanse on top to the shorter hair that would go down to the nape of my neck.  For some reason, she just couldn’t get the taper to come out on one side and the short area moved up that side further and further as she worked.  Finally, she said, “Well, it’s done.  Maybe a little worse than usual, but it’ll grow out.”  I took one look in the mirror and realized that it looked like she had laid a cereal bowl at an angle on the very top of my head and cut around it.  Long on top and immediately close cropped on the left side and a low fringe hanging down over the right.  There was no way I was going to be seen dead like that!

I returned to the chair I had just vacated.  “Cut it all off!”  I requested curtly.  Mom protested for a while and then complied.  The buzz cut had been a familiar sight on my  head in my earlier years, but the changing styles as I got older made that an unpopular option.  Nevertheless, it was what I requested this time and it was what I got.  In moments, all my hair laid in a circle about me on the floor and I was repenting my hasty decision.  I looked in the mirror, listening to Mom’s quiet reassurance once more, “It’ll grow out.”  It didn’t help any.

All I could see as I gazed in that unfriendly glass was the reception which was awaiting at school the next morning.  There was no doubt that the other kids would laugh.  My friends would be sure to pin me down and give me “nuggies” unmercifully.  Nuggies?  You know; when someone rubs your scalp roughly with their knuckles. Not only is it painful, but just the thought of the humiliation…Well, no matter.  I had a plan.  By this age, I had been wearing the “kicker” boots (pointed cowboy boots) for a couple of years, so I would just wear a hat to match.  I figured if I wore an old straw cowboy hat I had, no one would notice the haircut.  I had no idea!

In the morning, I stepped off the bus at the edge of the portico, where most students waited for the first bell to ring.  The concrete expanse was crowded and the hope that no one was looking was a false one as I crammed the old hat onto my stubbly head.  If I thought they would laugh at the haircut, that was nothing to the immediate reaction the ridiculous hat evoked.  The roars followed me back around the side of the building to the band room entrance, where I ducked in as quickly as I could.  Needless to say, the hat was relegated to the locker all that day and never made another appearance.  The wisecracks were endured, the nuggies borne and the following day, it was if the haircut had never happened.  How could I not know that’s what would occur?  What was all the angst about?

Isn’t that a picture of us all through life?  Every bad situation that comes up is the worst, causing consternation and stress.  Then when it’s past, we wonder what the fuss was about.  We jump the hurdle, the obstacle in our way and go on, stronger because of it, rather than damaged.  But, for some inexplicable reason, the next time such a circumstance is to be faced, we go through the emotions once again.  You would expect that we could learn from experience.  For some reason, it seems that we’re only really calm when it’s someone else going through it.  We glibly offer the words, “It will grow out”, “Don’t worry”, and the like, only to have them fall on deaf ears.  It appears that we each have to face our own embarrassments, our own hurdles, our own obstacles to get through to the other side.

That said, you may consider this my advice if you’re in such a situation.  It’s not original, but it bears consideration…Trouble will come to pass, but it will pass.  You will get through this.  Easy for me to say?  Don’t take my word for it.  “…Weeping may stay for the night, but joy comes in the morning.”  The words of the writer of Psalms give comfort and promise.  Bad haircuts aren’t life threatening illnesses; they aren’t the pain of separation.  But they do give us a clue as to the nature of our lives.  It will grow out.

“But that’s not all.  We gladly suffer, because we know that suffering helps us to endure; and endurance builds character, which gives us a hope.”
(Romans: 3: 4.5)

“Expect trouble as an inevitable part of life and repeat to yourself the most comforting words of all:  this, too, shall pass.”
(Ann Landers)

2 thoughts on “Growing Pains

  1. Guess it runs in the family! My mom has told me the story a few times of when Seth and I were in the back of The Country Gift Shop and he decided to cut my hair. What a catastrophe! lol

  2. The difficult part about the hair situation while we were growing up is that we had no options. It was his way or his way. I don’t even know if it was about the hair as much as it was about having control over some part of our lives. The rapid removal from the dinner table into the bathroom for a forced buzz cut, after arguing about the length desired, is what precipitated the desire to leave home. I am always amazed at your recall of childhood memories of which most I don’t remember until you recount them. That incident I will always have burned into my brain. The one lesson I have taken away from it is that while sometimes there are absolutes, often times middle ground can be found. But then I digress.

Leave a Reply

Your email address will not be published. Required fields are marked *