Hair Rules

mom and meOn Sundays I wash and detangle Simone and Nadia’s hair. The routine often takes me back to the days when my mother washed and combed my hair.

I would stand on my tiptoes every two weeks as Mom washed my hair in the kitchen sink with Johnson & Johnson Baby Shampoo. After two washes, I would sit on the floor, while Mom sat on the couch. She would scoop Vaseline out of a plastic jar and grease my scalp. Then she would comb, brush, and braid my hair into silky ponytails.

“More Hair,” she said, when she was finished.

“Grow longer,” I replied.

I had no trouble growing hair. Taking care of it was the hard part. I had long hair and all the rules that came with it.

Rule No. 1: No one can comb your hair. Only Mom knew how to take care of it. One day one of my cousins cut a chunk of my hair. We both got a whipping.

Rule No. 2: Don’t invite bad luck by saying thank-you when someone does your hair. Instead, I had to say, “More hair, grows longer.” Mom had all kinds of sayings. ‘Til this day, I’ve never heard another person talk about this one.

Rule No. 3: No pressing combs. First, I had soft hair. Second, Mom was overly concerned I’d grow up too fast. Third, see reason No. 1.

Rule No. 4: Don’t tempt fate by letting two people comb your hair at the same time. For some reason, Mom thought it was bad luck. I’ve never broken this rule.

Rule No. 5: Don’t get sand in your hair. I broke this rule many, many times. The violation triggered an automatic trip to the kitchen sink.

The cycle has been broken. Simone and Nadia have never heard these rules.

  • My sister had long blonde curls down past her butt when she was little. One day, she and the neighbor boy got into the gardener’s tools. Stevie got the hedgeclippers and he and Jenny went around the neighborhood, cutting off chunks of her hair until it was all about 2″ long.

    My mother cried.

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