I think it is the baby hair that gets me the most.
When they are born, it is oh so fine. It is small and delicate, just like the baby himself. Parents spend hours bathing their baby and lathering tearless shampoo into that hair. Then we brush it, either into a mohawk or a combover and take pictures and ooh and aww over how adorable they are with their hair combed. I remember taking many a hit of that baby hair, scented with Johnson’s shampoo.
I watched my babies grow by watching the tops of their heads.
Because as baby’s grow, their hair turns coarser, thicker. Their hair toughens up as they do. It adapts to its surroundings. Too long in the sun and the hair lightens. Too long in a hat and it flattens. Soon you can gel it, mold it. You are giving endless haircuts. I swear I cut hair every three weeks. It grows quickly along with those little babes. Soon there is no more fuzzy, fine hair and your once-baby heads are covered in regular boy hair. The kind of hair that gets covered in mud, that gets sweaty. Washing their hair is no longer a careful task. Soon, I’m just making sure to spray the hose in that direction every now and again.
I have a theory that the more hair a kid has, the more vivid his personality is. Both my kids were born with full heads of dark hair, and they both are very extreme. Brandon with his emotions, Holden with his reactions. They both love to dance and are full of energy and life. Neither one is passive in any direction. They go hard in their own ways. Every time I’ve seen a bald baby, it has, in contrast, seemed compliant. Almost like part of a background, rather than the starring act.
Tonight while I rocked Holden to sleep, I just kept fingering his hair. I get now why people used to save a lock of baby hair. It’s because hair is a metaphor for growing people. I thought of Holden’s fine and delicate hair while I touched his coarse and unruly new hair. He has shed is baby skin and is ready for what comes next. And just like with their haircuts, I find I am lagging behind, not ready to catch up to them quite yet.
I might have to take up huffing Johnson’s baby shampoo.
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