Sometimes motherhood isn't all it's cracked up to be. Waking up in the middle of the night to a child crying, "Mommy, I just barfed in the bed," for example, is not one of those Hallmark moments. Neither is walking in on a giggling toddler who is supposed to be napping but is instead finger painting on the walls with the contents of his diaper. And I, for one, will never forget the feeling of horror at opening the dryer after prewashing an entire new winter wardrobe for two small children to find that someone left a pack of restaurant crayons in his pocket. [Did you know, if you dial 1-800-CRAYOLA, you will hear, "For instructions on how to get crayon out of clothing that has been through the dryer, press 1"? It involves large quantities of WD-40 and paper towels. And it does get the crayon out. Nothing in the known universe, however, will get out the WD-40.]
One of my least favorite motherhood experiences is Crazy Hair Day--an annual event at the elementary school which involves several of the things I like least: doing hair, sticky substances on my hands, and a child with serious OCD issues and a hair obsession--he routinely bursts into tears when faced with the prospect of a haircut, because he absolutely can't stand having his hair look "stupid"--who has a picture in his head of exactly how he wants his hair to look that is about as realistic as my mental image of my perfect body.
Last night (at bedtime, of course), said child announced that today was crazy hair day, and did we have hair gel and colored hair spray? Um. No. And it's bedtime. We're going to skip crazy hair day this year (said with forced nonchalance in the vain hope that this would end the conversation). Which eventually led to Mom flatly refusing to go out in search of crazy hair supplies at 9:00 pm.
Mom, however, failed to convey to Dad to importance, the utter necessity, of not going to get crazy hair supplies--not when Mom is the one who has to get up and deal with child in the predawn hours.
So my morning went like this:
Son: Did Dad get crazy hair gel?
Mom (staring with dismay at the tube labeled "Hair Glue"): Uh...yeah.
Son: Good. Can you spike my hair? [This would be the hair that is down to his shoulders and would give an English Sheep Dog hair envy.]
Mom: Um. I'm not sure. I can try. But this stuff is pretty sticky, so it's going to be really hard to wash out. Are you sure you want to do this?
Son: Of course! It's crazy hair day!
Mom (sighing, because she knows where this is leading): Okay. We have to get your hair damp first. Stick your head under the faucet.
Son: Wait. I need a towel for my shoulders.
Mom hands him a towel.
Son: Wait. I need a washcloth to keep the water out of my eyes.
Mom hands him a washcloth.
Finally sticks his head under the faucet.
Son: Mom! You're getting my hair all wet!
Mom: Yes, I know. That's the point.
Son: But it's going to be all wet!
Mom: Um. Yeah. The directions say "use on damp hair."
Son: But it's wet!
Mom: Okay. Stand up. Let me dry your head a little.
Son: Ow! Ow!
Mom: Time for the gel. How do you want it?
Son: All spiky.
Mom: All over?
Son: Yeah. All over.
Mom rubs large quantity of axle grease into Son's hair and attempts to pull six inch long clumps of damp, sticky hair into spikes. Half a tube later, she sends Son to look in mirror. Son gets that "trying not to cry" look, and Mom's breakfast settles heavily in her stomach.
Mom (tentatively): What do you think?
Son: No. No. No.
Mom: Okay. What do you want me to do?
Son: Cover up my forehead!
Mom: Ah. Well. I don't know if I can do that. The hair is all sticky and clumpy now.
Tears well in Son's eyes.
Mom (grabbing a comb and silently cursing the elementary school): Come here. I'll see what I can do...there. How's that?
Son (starting to sound a little hysterical): Can you make it more poofy?
Mom messes with hair for a little while.
Son (voice going up an octave): Can you make it less poofy?
Mom (starting to show the strain): You just said more poofy!
Son: I know, but I want it less poofy!
Mom messes with hair some more.
Son (clearly losing it now): NO! That's not it! Push it to the side!
Mom: Which side?!
Son: Not THAT side!
Mom: Show me!
Son: I CAN'T! No, just put it back the way it was!
Mom (taking a deep breath and looking surreptitiously at the clock): Okay. We are just about out of time. You have two options. You can leave it like that, or you can go wash your hair. But you have to decide quickly because we have to leave in five minutes.
Son: Just put stuff in my hair!
Mom (puzzled): What stuff?
Son: Chapstick. Rubber bands. Stuff!
Mom (completely baffled now and way past exasperated): I don't have any stuff and we don't have any more time. Go wash your hair. Fast.
Son stomps upstairs to the bathroom. A couple of minutes later, Mom still doesn't hear water running.
Mom: Son? Are you in the shower?
Son: NO! I don't have time! I'll be late!
Mom: You will be if you don't get in the shower right now!
Son: There! I fixed it!
Stomps out of bathroom with hair looking pretty much the way Mom first did it.
Mom: That's how you want it?
Son: Duh! Why couldn't you have just done that to start with? Would that have been so hard?
Mom swallows sharp retort in the interests of moving child toward the door.
Mom: Grab your stuff. We're late.
Son picks up backpack, pulls door shut.
Son: I just shut the door on my finger!
Tears well up in his eyes again.
Mom: Are you okay?
Son (wiping eyes and pushing at sticky hair on his forehead): Yeah.
They get in the car.
Son: This gel is going to be really hard to wash out.
Mom (biting tongue): Mmmm.
Son: It's going to hurt.
Mom (biting tongue harder): Mmmm.
They pull up in front of the elementary school. None of the other kids walking in have crazy hair.
Son (rising hysteria in his voice): Mom? IS today crazy hair day?!
Mom (supply of motherly patience exhausted): Don't know. Hurry up; you'll be late. I love you. Have a great day!
Mom roars out of the parking lot and heads for the coffee.
I fully expect to be getting a phone call from the office in the next hour, asking me to please come pick up my hysterical child so that he can come home and wash his hair.