Wednesday, October 20, 2010


When I was a little girl, my mother struggled to make sense out of my sister's and my hair.  We both had thick, curly tangles that were both the pride and the bane of her existence.  Oh, my goodness, how well I remember the torture of getting our hair done in the morning! Mom had a silver metal comb she used to murder her way throught the knots.  Nina and I still talk about that comb.  My Mom says it was the only thing she could use that wouldn't break in our hair -- so you can imagine the knotty messes she had to go through -- and how we felt about it.  And, to make matters worse, the style du jour of the late sixties was pigtails. Back in the days of Buffy and Jody, they were thee thing for little girls. Poor us... pigtails were as good a way as any to corral our curly locks, and my mother was a brave Navy wife, so we were in for it...  

Until my Mom couldn't take it any more and took my little sis and me to the "pooty parlour" where she had those curly locks snipped right off, to the protestations of the beauticians who said it was a crime to cut off our beautiful hair.  To which my mother responded, "Well, then, you come over to our house every morning and comb out the knots!"  Which, of course they weren't going to do.  So they cut our curls and taped a couple of them to their mirrors, and we went home with bouncy little bobs and said goodbye to the silver comb of torture, thus ending the days of the pigtails.

For Nina and me.

Though they really aren't the thing anymore, we still do the "do"  here at our house occasionally.  And let me say this about them -- from the other side of the comb: Pigtails are not just a hairdo, they are art.  

I spent a good ten minutes this morning making Anna some before school and we're both still recovering from the stress. It's a job requiring the skill of a watch maker, the eye of an artist, and the patience of a saint.  First, you have to find something to make the part straight, which in our house is a challenge in itself. As there are never combs to be found, we have to be creative.  It was a pencil we resorted to this morning. After four daughters and many years of doing this, we've discovered that pencil lead doesn't leave a mark on the scalp. A mechanical pencil with the lead stuck in is our parter of choice, generally, but we couldn't find one, so a yellow number two had to do. 

Once you've found a parting instrument, the real work begins, though.  It's all about dividing the hair evenly into halves with as straight a line as possible from the bangs to the hairline at the neck.  Considering a fairly artistic eye and a steady hand, this would be easy-peasy if  I didn't have to factor in the wiggling little girl who belongs to the head I'm working on -- who turns her head just when I'm drawing the part and whines at every knot the brush finds. But, with perserverence, after two or three attempts, I get the part down the actual middle of her head and, with a little tweaking with the pencil, I manage a fairly straight line.   Then I grab my brush and smooth out the first section over her left ear, and gathering it into my left hand, I take the pony-tail holder from between my teeth  and wrap it around the pigtail several times, nice and tight up against her head.  But, you know those funny, messy little hair-bumps you get when all the hair's not quite brushed smooth?  Yeah, well, can't have that. We do it over, and, successfully rebrushed and refastened, Anna wriggles and sighs and rolls her eyes.  But  we aren't done yet.  There's still the second pigtail to capture and secure and it's the problem of getting that second pigtail even and symmetrical that ends many a pigtail quest...

But, in the end, it's worth the trouble.

Have you seen that greeting card?  It's right when it says:

They're like a party for your hair.

Yep.  Because we all know how much behind-the-scenes work goes into a party.


Linda Higgins said...

oh there is an awesome web site for little girls braids and hairdo's but...then again it would take hours to do! I thought the trend was to have the back of the hair all zig-zagged the then the piggies pulled half-way through so they are all spiky! LOL ohh, the tricks and treats of pig-tails! I do remember!

Mum2eight said...

Amelia recently got a bob because she and I couldn't take combing all the knots out any more.

Oh and whenever I do pigtails, I don't care if they are not symmetrical.

Laura said...

Pig tails- so cute. My mother had the opposite problem with us. We had (and still have) stringy, unruly hair.