Alice had curly hair. It took an afternoon of snipping rags, an evening of twirling her wet hair and tying the loops, and a night of letting it dry. The next day, bouncy locks.
Evening that day she sighed, “Charlie, I don’t know how you do it.” She was chopping vegetables for ramen-noodle stir fry when I crawled out of bed from my spontaneous nap. I stared at her blankly, groggy and confused. She elaborated, “I have to keep reminding myself I can’t run my fingers through my hair.” Her shiny curls cascaded down her shoulders.
“Oh yeah. I can only do it after I brush my hair while I have conditioner in it.” She complained that Bailey still tried combing her fingers through it, which is breaking one of those unspoken rules about having curly hair, causing it to frizz. We went back and forth with the other challenges that come with curls. She acted out the girl’s reactions to her new style, and despite Ed’s displeasure with her changing it up (he loves our hair long and natural), he still complimented her about it.
“How do you do it?” she went on.
“I leave it alone. It took me a while to learn that you can’t tame it, you have to let it do its thing. Don’t control it. It’s like a woman.”
Later Ed and Bailey were having a discussion in the bedroom and Guinevere needed to eat again. I took her with me to the bathroom where Alice was showering, so I could chat with her while nursing the baby. “I have so much more respect for you,” she groaned again, head achingly bent forward as she tried to tug the hairbrush through conditioner saturated, matted hair. “I don’t know how you do it.”
“I brush it out before I get it wet. I thought of telling you, but I didn’t know if you would need to since it’s not naturally curly…”
“Thanks for telling me ahead of time.” She tugged some more. “I don’t think I can save this, I need scissors.”
“Let me see.” I don’t get knots nearly that big. I tried pulling at opposing parts to get it loose, but it was doomed. Still, I didn’t want to go across the house topless to get scissors. “I saw nail clippers somewhere that they didn’t belong, but I can’t remember where now.” I looked around the toilet where I was perched, wondering if they had been on the floor.
“Oh, I remember, they’re just outside the door.” I looked down at the bundle of joy in my arms and imagined trying to maneuver around with her. “I can get it,” she offered. “No one’s out there, right?” We each took into account that the boys had gone to a friend’s birthday party. I unlocked the door for her with my one free hand. Her hand was tangled into her hair. She ran out real quick and we each were hit by the realization that there were a lot of windows. Whoops.