We tumble out of the car after church and rush into the house, a bundle of nerves and excitement.
“I’m scared,” she says, her eyes a little bigger than usual. “What if I mess up?”
“Go put on your leotard and your warm ups and we’ll talk about it,” I answer.
Ten minutes later she sits at the table and I begin brushing her long, kind of thin, white-blonde, mousy hair. Bless her precious little heart, she is the cutest little thing you’ve ever seen, but she definitely drew the short stick when it came to hair.
As she talks through the nerves she feels about competing in her very first gymnastics meet, I deal with my own nerves. Naturally, I was a little nervous for her, but my bigger issue came in the form of what on earth should I do with that hair?
See, I read the team manual. I know the rules. That hair has to be up and back and off the face and it cannot come loose under penalty of death. Or loss of a few tenths of a point. Whatever.
The point is, getting the hair right for a gymnastics competition is of the utmost importance.
And we all know who gets judged on the hair – she’s seven, folks. I’m on the hot seat for hair that refuses to stayed tied tight.
“Let’s put your hair up in a bun,” I suggest, and she immediately balks. I forgot to mention – she hates having her hair done. It ranks right up there with getting a shot. She does it because I say she has to, but she’s not happy about it.
I pull her hair back as tight as possible when it’s spun of pure silk and tried to secure it in a ponytail holder.
“You’re hurting me!” she wails. She grabs at the bottom of her head and yanks a chunk of hair out of my fingers.
“It’s supposed to be tight,” I say through gritted teeth.
“Well I don’t want it in a bun!” she cries. “My hair doesn’t work like that. I have small buns!”
I snicker as I tried to regroup the hair on top of her head because the twelve year old in me cannot hold back.
“Well what about braids? Your coach said braids are a great way to keep your hair out of your face.” I set to work weaving her hair into tight braids down the back of her head as she whines and groans about how much I’m hurting her and it doesn’t have to be that tight and sweet mercy if this child ever decides to become a dancer, she’s going to have to employ her own hair dresser because I will not survive such shenanigans!
I tie the braids, but they hang funny over her shoulders. It’s a bit Pippi Longstocking, and while I find it mildly adorable, I can envision her lying on a counselor’s couch one day lamenting the fact that she could have been an Olympian if only her mother had been able to come up with an acceptable gymnastic’s meet hairstyle.
I fold the braids under and secure them with ribbons and enough hair spray to chip out a small hole in the ozone layer, then tell her to do a couple of back walker overs and make sure it will work.
“It hurts! It hurts so bad! Ow, Ow, Ow, Ow, Ow! Why is it so tight! It hurts.hurts.hurts.hurts.hurts!!!”
It’s at this point I begin humming Jesus Take the Wheel while wondering what she would look like with a shaved head. (She’d look precious. I’m sure of it…)
She waffles back to the kitchen table, clutching her head as though I had woven thorns into her braids and we set back to work. The only issue is I’ve put so much hair spray into it, that it’s not going anywhere. So I twist, pull, tug, and pray until I have it tucked it in a way that allows her full movement of her head. She hops off the table and rolls her neck around.
“Fell better?” I ask. She nods and runs to the bathroom.
She looks in the mirror, side to side, then looks at me.
“I look weird,” she says.
I drop my head, shrug my shoulders and wave her outside where I spray glitter into her hair because glitter covers a multitude of sins.
And we’re on our way.
She ended up tying for third in her meet. It’s probably easy enough to attribute her success to her hard work and dedication, but after the fiasco we went through to get her there, I’m going to take full credit for her success.