As soon as I hear the clamor, I know what’s happened.
There’s something distinct about the sound of my daughter dumping a whole bin of hair accessories on the floor like it’s a tub of Lincoln Logs. The door to her room is shut, and I can imagine her scooping up hair clips and bows and sorting them into little containers, then dumping them back out again. I know what it looks like in there — a rainbow mound of hair bands, clips, bows, bobby pins, you name it, piled on the floor, the smaller ones camouflaging themselves in the carpet.
There’s NO WAY I’m going in there.
Can we talk about the hair bows? And how they multiply like tribbles? (If you don’t know what I’m talking about, treat yourself to the picture of a young William Shatner buried in hairy balls.)
Personally, I don’t care for hair bows. I like to admire them at a craft booth from a safe distance. They’re sweet; they’re girly; they look cute matched with an Easter dress. But, I’d rather spend that money on another children’s book or a latte or ten minutes of quiet via the Target dollar bin. Let it be known that I have never purchased a single hair accessory for my children since becoming a mom.
And yet, thanks to the older generations of my family, they’re in every crevice of my home: in toy chests, the dryer, the dolls’ hair, my bed. The other day, my youngest brought me a hair-and-hair-bow soup she made in her toy kitchen.
I wouldn’t eat it, so she fed it to the carpet.
I remember unwrapping those first little headbands at my baby shower, the ones with the tiny bows and flowers that newborns and infants wear for a single picture then claw off their heads until you finally give up and put them back in the diaper bag, never to be used again.
My eldest daughter was a short-haired baby, so we escaped clips and hair bows for a while longer, but once her thick, blonde hair sprouted into a mane, every great aunt and grandma began throwing them at me. It was an onslaught.
First, I kept them in a Tupperware container on the bathroom counter … until my toddler started spilling them into and down the sink. Next, I took a bunch of smaller containers and organized them by type. When they got mixed up, I organized them by color. When I finally threw in the towel, the ginormous bin of chaos was born.
Sometimes, when I’m down on my hands and knees, clawing at the carpet, trying to pick up all the hair bows, and clips, and bands, and shoving them into their bin in a cleaning rage, I fantasize about sealing them all up in a trash bag and letting them rot in a pile of waste somewhere. In fact, a few have ended up in the trash. The closest I’ve gotten to getting rid of them is shoving the bin in the highest corner of my closet until one of my girls realizes it’s missing.
Maybe I’m just a pushover. Maybe I’ve just come to accept the reality that motherhood with young kids and a large extended family means riding wave after wave of things.
“They’re gifts,” I say.
“Maybe they are kinda cute,” I say.
“But, everyone loves them…(but me),” I say.
Maybe it’s the nagging feeling that this difference of opinion — the cuteness of hair bows — could become the first of a heap of generational differences between myself and my relatives, and I don’t know if I have the emotional stability to deal. After all, who likes conflict, and especially with family members who are generally very supportive?
I’m one of those people who would rather nonverbally seem to agree with most of what my family says than actually confront them. I know it’s a flaw, and I know that now that I have kids, there’s more than just my integrity at stake. I can’t allow them to think I’m agreeing with someone, then at home preaching something else.
But, what if saying no to another hair bow sounds like saying no to buying clothes? Or, turning down a night of babysitting?
What if turning down hair bows accumulates into conversations like, “Sorry, Mom, I know you spanked me, but I won’t spank my kids?” Or, “Sorry, Dad, but I don’t think boys are predisposed to be assholes.”
Okay, so maybe I’m blowing everything out of proportion, and maybe I have a weak spine. And, deep down, I know that I’ll have to have these conversations one day, and they won’t be pleasant.
Actually, maybe this whole hair bow nonsense is actually a blessing, so instead of tackling all the bigger issues at once, I can take small steps in asserting my opinions. I can say, “Mom, for the love of GOD, no more hair bows,” and maybe it won’t go as badly as I expect.
But, should any of the hair bows we already have “disappear,” I’m blaming the toddler. Because it was definitely the toddler.