Thursday, October 07, 2010

heal my neuroses (dot) com

Okay here's my million dollar marketing idea.

This is for the neurotic parent, the kind of mom (or dad) who's sure she (or he) didn't get the memo or the proper genetic code, the one who is frequently convinced that she (or he) is the shittiest mom (or dad) ever.

Say you're a mom who's finally made an appointment to take her four year-old daughter to get her hair trimmed, because you just can't take the jaw-clenching insanity anymore. Every day you look at your daughter's hair, a snaggled, tangled mess, your whole face tightens into a stressy mask of agony. You don't know how to tame her hair or your anxiety over her hair.

When you bathe her, which you're sure isn't often enough, you usually condition and comb it out, but not always. Life is hectic. You have another kid, dinner to clean up, homework to check, bedtime stories to administer. You're running late. As usual. Combing her hair in a gentle manner takes time. Like twenty minutes you don't have.

Other days you tackle her to the ground before school, brush in hand, the rainbow sparkle brush you bought hoping she'd be inspired enough to either use herself or let you use on her. But no. So you pin her down and brush her hair while gutteral, soul-killing screams emanate from her small prone body and tears explode from her usually life-loving eyes like salty fireworks.

Inside you curse yourself for being so shallow, for putting others' perceived judgments ahead of your daughter's relative comfort. She thinks she's a princess after all. What does she care about tangly hair? You're sure that every other girl on the face of the earth sits obediently, very likely exchanging pleasantries with her mother as she gets her hair brushed.

You bring her to school and she clings to you, not letting your leg out of her grasp. You explain to her teachers that she's been traumatized at home by your futile efforts to groom her, hoping for a crumb of sympathy. The teacher looks at you charitably. You know she's thinking you suck big crusty wads. "Not that it matters," you say, gesturing toward the quivering barnacle on your thigh. "Her hair's still a fucking mess."

You drive off in your minivan, the same one that your daughter's perfectly coiffed schoolmate told you with her nose wrinkled, is "so messy." You narrowly escape a collision and vow that this will be the day you take your daughter to get her hair trimmed, shaped, conditioned and styled in a manner that will end this torturous phase of life.

The salon is for grown-ups and the stylist is ready to send your little disheveled miracle to the hair washing sink. But again your cherub clings to you, whining, keening, refusing to sit back and have her hair washed. You cajole her. Bribe her with treats. Another stylist comes by and sits in the chair ooh-ing and ahh-ing it up to entice your daughter. Clearly you are impotent to the extreme, unable to function on the most rudimentary level.

Your stylist, clearly childless, tells your kid how all the other little girls who come to the salon love getting their hair shampooed. You look at her to gauge her thoughts, then to your daughter who is not swayed.

You lower your clenched form to your little girl's eye level and point at your lips, which are now curled in a tight line around your teeth. "See this?" you seethe. "Mommy's angry teeth are going to turn into a whole angry face if you don't get in that chair right now. One...two...three..." She doesn't move, your angel. Time is ticking. "You want Daddy to take the buzzer to your hair so it looks like your brother's?" You ask, hoping for a laugh from the audience.

You ask the stylist how much time you have left. There are ten minutes. You threaten to take away your kid's beloved library Backyardigans DVDs but know you're full of shit as the words spill from your desperate lips.

You try peeling your daughter off the floor and shoving her into the chair with brute force. You are aware of all the eyes upon you, eyes that glint with disapproval under tousled and gleaming heads of hennaed, highlighted and streaked hair. Nothing is working, and it's not working in public. Spectacularly. How can you not control your kid? they're thinking.

Finally, on the verge of tears, you call it quits. You croak your apologies, afraid you'll start bawling if you don't get out of there immediately. You don't offer a tip even though you've wasted their time, because the thought of paying for this mortification is more than you can bear. You won't be returning to this salon anyway, even though a lipstick-red business card is shoved into your palm as you make for the door.

In the car, you're too exhausted with fury to even cry. You know it wouldn't make a difference anyway. You head to the library to make good on your threat but halfway there you change your mind, realizing that maybe your daughter is a little young for the salon shampoo. Why couldn't you have had this brilliant thought then? You could have avoided the whole thing.

But it bothers you still, and you wish there was an easier way to avoid such a disaster in the future. You wonder if life would be a little more do-able if there was an app you could click on from your iPhone (if you had an iPhone), then type in your issue-- rat's nest hair, or hair salon hell, say-- and find scores of parents who have gone through the same thing. You'd know right away that you are not a birth defect but a perfectly normal parent experiencing a perfectly normal afternoon.

You'd know that three hundred other moms have daughters with nesty tangles who refuse to get their hair washed at the salon. You'd learn that all those girls you see with the perfectly smooth ponytails have lumps of tangles beneath the silkiness. How much relief would you feel then? Can this app become a reality? Maybe so. I don't have time to research it. I've got kids for heaven's sake. But I would love a cut of the profits, oh marketing geniuses and investment gurus. Until then, I will continue to share the insanity right here.


Karen said...

Right there with you. Mine screams bloody murder every time I come near her with the soft, soft brush I bought. My friend's 7 year old screams "Daddy, don't touch me like that, you're hurting me!" when he tries to brush her hair. It's something little girls learn at boot camp, I guess.

Ready to go see my person in Willow Grove? She doesn't shampoo kids, and she's great with them. Has 3 girls herself.

kristi said...

so what i want to know is did you really tell her teacher "her hair's still a fucking mess"? that is priceless.

and "suck big crusty wads" made me laugh out loud.

by the way, i almost never brush any of my kids' hair--and aedan has as much hair (if not more) than gillian. it usually sticks out all which ways. gillian's hair is definitely smooth on top and nasty underneath. it just isn't worth the fight.

i honestly try not to care if people judge me. but i'm thinking they are probably sympathizing, and with you too.


Elise Abrams Miller said...

see? this is why I write posts like this. knowing I'm not alone in the hair struggle is worth the insanely high co-pay I'd be paying a therapist to work it through.

thank you K & K for saving my sanity and my financial status.

and- Karen, sign me up. we'll talk logistics. Z's haircut is a calling card in itself. beautiful.

and Kristi, I only wished I said "her hair's a fucking mess" to the teacher. I did not. I don't know what's real or what's fiction anymore, so I just write it all down and figure why clarify? it's one of the perks of growing old. okay that might be fiction too.

kristi said...

you totally have that thing that i can't currently think of what it's called because rhys is in my lap licking his hand and being gross. poetic license? is that it? seriously glad you use that to the fullest around here. xo

Kim said...

I love this it sounds like my morning routine other than all I hear is her screaming "you got my baby hairs". My older daughters try and tell her that she'll get used to it they did in there lovely sarcastic tone. All I think to myself is that "you know you can do it yourself" but I know my OCD couldn't take how she wouldn't do it right. Just think I am on the 6th one and still haven't figured it out with all the experiences and the books I've read.

I just really wish as moms we wouldn't be so hard on each other when our kid's show up with toothpaste all over their shirt, 2 different socks and a crooked pony tail.

Anonymous said...

Sounds more like a hell salon!