The Weekend Post - Cairns Eye - - Front Page - WORDS// RACHAEL JANSEN

Be­ing the par­ent of school-aged chil­dren is some­times cruel and un­usual pun­ish­ment. My par­ents would say it’s sim­ply pay­back. I feel my pun­ish­ment is over and above what is fair though. I don’t be­lieve my in­dis­cre­tions (at least the ones my folks are aware of) war­rant hav­ing to do hair.

My mother never had to do my hair. She yelled at me a fair bit to brush it, but I don’t re­call her ever hav­ing to do it, pos­si­bly be­cause I wasn’t a dancer.

My daugh­ter is a dancer, which puts me at a par­ent­ing dis­ad­van­tage be­cause I don’t “do” hair. Not even my own (hence my mother’s frus­tra­tion in the day). I was not a child who played hair­dresser. I never plaited my friends’ hair. I did, how­ever, cut my sis­ter’s hair when she was five. She didn’t seem to mind the hap­haz­ard bowl cut, so I don’t know why Mum was so peeved. It’s not like it didn’t grow back.

When my daugh­ter came along, I didn’t do her hair ei­ther. She was two be­fore she had a hair­cut (not by me; I wouldn’t be so cruel to my child. My sis­ter, yes, but not my child) and it wasn’t un­til she started school that I tack­led my first pony­tail, and only then be­cause I had no choice.

For the first few years, the morn­ing tug-owar went well enough. Only a few screams, and even fewer from my girl. Last year she sacked me though. Hav­ing in­her­ited her fa­ther’s neat-freak ten­den­cies, I have no chance of reach­ing her ex­act­ing stan­dards and even less chance of keep­ing my cool in the en­su­ing “dis­cus­sion” of said stan­dards.

Now, this has worked out for both of us and it’s been smooth sail­ing un­til this week when we’ve hit a snag, like a fine-tooth comb rip­ping through bed hair. We have an up­style to com­plete for the an­nual dance con­cert that re­quires skills not in my fum­bling reach.

It brings no com­fort that the dance teacher says she’s given us the eas­i­est hair style avail­able. The eas­i­est would be no style at all. That I can do. But braid­ing, Dutch or other­wise, is be­yond my ca­pa­bil­i­ties, and my daugh­ter knows it too. For the past few weeks anx­i­ety lev­els – hers and mine – have been on the rise. I can see the sheer ter­ror on her face when the topic comes up. We both know that the po­ten­tial for disas­ter is high and I’ve no doubt we’ve both been pic­tur­ing her turn­ing up with a birds nest on her head.

So I’ve done what any smart par­ent would – I’ve out­sourced it, beg­ging my hair­dresser to save us. The sly smile that spreads across my daugh­ter’s face on hear­ing the news tells me this is the out­come she was hop­ing for.

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