So, my eldest wise one cut off her long hair.
A conscious decision on her behalf. She knew we were soon to head up north. Our annual family holiday brings with it hours of chlorinated fun in the spa. After which follows hours of agonising combing in the bath. My small ones wear their hair pretty long. We claim it’s for UV protection, but mostly it’s my laziness. We’re not in the habit of regular trims, a haircut is like our holiday – an annual affair. And usually the week before school photos.
But my eldest wise one told me she was sick of tangled dreadlocks. And the subsequent pain endured to get them out. So she wanted a hair-cut. In fact, she called it a hair style.
The style was called a bob.
I asked her if she was sure. Maybe she might like just a bi-annual trim. But despite my misgivings, she was pretty clear with her intention. So we made the booking with our local angel of the scissors – my hairdresser – for a Friday after school.
My scissor angel was gold. She said all the words I couldn’t say. About how tall my eldest wise one was. How beautifully she spoke. How grown up she was becoming. She snipped and flicked and layered out her child-length. Then the scissors stopped, she swivelled the chair, and showed me my small one’s face. But my eldest wise one was gone. Her child-length hair gone with her.
Sitting in her place – was a tween.
I’d been warned that this would happen. A small could take off to their bedroom one night, only to return the next morning as a different child. But I didn’t expect to see it happen in 20 minutes on a hairdressers’ chair. The tween before me was nothing short of divine. Her angled fine hair framed her bright freckled face. Her eyes shone with the excitement of seeking something new. She stood up with a bounce. Shifted the bounce into a walk. And continued to move that way – all bouncy and shiny – out the door.
Over the next few days, bouncing and shiny in her bob, things started shifting. She started laying her clothes out before she wore them and looked in the mirror all the time. She bought a new brush, started blow-drying her new hair and found a Bonds training bra in the drawer. Her new budding body more apparent under her short shiny hair, making me know my next step would be awkward.
My step towards The Talk.
As I started having nightmares about puberty and verbs, I began visualising my first “Talk”. It was to be in a hipster cafe that served chai in clay pots. Just her, and I, tucked up legs on the couch. Neil Young would be playing on vinyl. She would nod and understand all the new words, ask poignant questions and not freak out about blood. She would finish by telling me she loved me and that she felt safe and strong in her new world.
But yesterday, when my window to her opened, my planned hipster cafe with the hot barrister was closed. So we ended up squashed onto packed plastic chairs in a place called “the mean bean”. The guy next to me had a thin comb-over and few teeth. My eldest scoffed at the suggestion of hot chocolate and ordered a smoothie. It had grass in it. There was no Neil Young. Instead, Justin Beiber on the pan flute sang “what do you mean?”. She knew all the words.
I wondered if I could ever know this tween of mine again.
Our drinks came and I began to talk the Talk. It started well. I followed line of decision making and the power she had in making choices. I continued along the line of me stepping back and in doing so letting her take more control. Then I dove in. I spoke about her body growing up from that of a small one to that of a not so small one. She seemed interested, until I said the word “boobs”. It was then that that she abruptly shut me down.
As I threw “hormones”, “moods” and “mooncycles” on the table, she met me with “rainbow”, “sorbet” and “sleeping bags.” She asked me if polaroid cameras were a good idea and whether she could have a turtle as a pet. Then, looking down in silence, she picked passionfruit pips from her smoothie.
I looked to the table next to us. A group of 12 year old girls. With braces on their teeth and smartphones in their hands, they took selfies over their thickshakes. I blinked and saw my eldest wise one in the middle of their table, her bobbed hair and shiny eyes bewildered by too much light. I turned away to look deeply into the downcast eyes of my own heart and saw her inside wonder. I saw the hard words and themes racing through her head. I realised that while her bob was all grown up, she was still trying on life for size. And while her hair cut fits her,
My words didn’t.
Think throat openers, standing balance and altar mouna.
This full harvest moon asks of us to be aware what lays hidden. To balance the shadows within our hearts and the light within our souls. To remember that relationships are built when people who journey together, support each other. They are strengthened when we respect the point and time we are at. We may think that there is a shift and we are carried forwards with the energy of it. Only to realise that the moment is yet to happen. That the moment is yet to come. That time, even though it looks different, is steady and still. And that this time is to be cherished. As it holds any movement at all.
My tween has a funky hairstyle and has started choosing accessories to go with her clothes. But her eyes are still wide and wise. I’ve made sure that the words she will hear have come from me first. For her now, they have little meaning, but she knows where to come when she wants one. She knows while we pull back, we remain near. She knows as she chooses, we accept.
She knows that beneath her uncertainty and shadows, she has a shiny light inside. That she is safe, strong and supported in her world.
No matter what her hairstyle or her boobs look like.
Even on polaroid film.
“Because I’m still in love with you
I want to see you dance again
Because I’m still in love with you
On this Harvest Moon” – Neil Young