When I gave birth to my daughter almost six years ago, I had visions of a pink-clad cherub, prancing through the fields, and wearing floral dresses with her blonde hair blowing in the breeze.
Sadly, my offspring was not one of the Ingalls children, tumbling down the hill of life like a puppy too happy to care about their footing. My daughter is headstrong, whimsical on her own terms, a great lover of leggings – not dresses, and nothing makes her madder than not having someone pay attention to her.
Somehow she has it in her head that all attention is good attention, and that belief has manifested itself in my car being washed with Gatorade, her room decorated with used pull-ups, and most recently, cutting her hair off in what would seem to be a vain attempt to look like Mia Farrow.
Her extreme makeover coincided with my husband leaving town for business, a point not lost on me, because it is a sad truth that I do not do well as a single mother.
Imagine a dog, herding sheep from one pen to another with one sheep who keeps making a break for it. The dog nips at the sheep’s flank trying to keep it in line, but the sheep laughs wildly at the dog and dances just out of its reach.
This is my sad existence without my husband for support.
The first morning on my own, I was running to and fro trying to look vaguely presentable for work when I sent the kids downstairs to start breakfast. Somehow, I thought that I would not have to hover over them, but I was horribly wrong.
I came downstairs to find my darling son dressed, but he hadn’t bothered with breakfast or brushing his teeth, finding it more important to watch Slugterra.
There are some days when I would rather watch Burpy in all of his flamey goodness than brush my teeth, but a Tuesday morning with only minutes to spare before leaving would not be one of those days.
Thankfully, a gentle cattle prod to the butt got him moving, but I couldn’t find my daughter. As any parent knows, a missing child is highly suspicious.
She doesn’t hide very well, so I easily located her in a locked bathroom. Jimmying the lock, I opened the door and saw that our bathroom had been turned into a crime scene.
Instead of blood, the room was covered with blonde hair. A wad here, a wisp there. Gleefully, my daughter stood there with a pair of scissors in one hand and a maniacal expression on her face. Her bangs were gone, and one side of her hair was a lot shorter than the other.
I almost turned away to throw up.
Choking back my horror, I assessed the damage and tried to do a little triage. My first impulse was to pin what was left of the bangs back, but there was not enough there. The hair, or remnants of it, slipped out of my hands. I couldn’t even call it hair. It resembled a caterpillar, fuzzy for the winter.
My only option was to brush it and hope no one would notice. Fat chance. Her new look was not exactly subtle.
I don’t know what it says about me, but I wasn’t mad at her for the hair. What irked me was WHY she did it. Because I wasn’t hovering over her and fawning over her every movement, she needed to do something to grab my attention. Somehow, in my mind, that means if she’s willing to that to get a moment of my time, she will do drugs, drink all night, and bring home a man reeking of chlamydia just to shock me.
In vain, I put her in timeout and try to talk to her. As she languishes in the corner, performing the role of a put-upon diva, I tell her that I love her not matter what, but I like her when she’s not doing something stupid.
It’s like talking to a brick wall. She has no remorse and I’m pretty sure she doesn’t reflect on what happened after she had left timeout. I honestly don’t know what to do, but until I figure that out, I’ll just hide the scissors and hope for the best.