The Truth About Being Hot-Headed

It is an hour and eight days past my bedtime. This time-change has messed me up, once again. Guess what, presidential candidates? You can get rid of daylight saving! I’m just saying…

The other night, I made a big decision. It was a hard decision, but it had to be made. As a mother, I always seek what’s best for my children. I had to bite the bullet… and cut Little Man’s hair.

Spoiler alert if you’ve never seen the movie (but seriously, where have you been hiding?). Remember in Napolean Dynamite, when Pedro sweats constantly because he has all that hair on his head? Little Man was having some serious Pedro days. If anyone or anything came within inches of his head, he would start to pour sweat. He was a radiator with those little curls. We also – well, someone, maybe once – clipped his hearing aids in his hair.

As hard a decision as it was to make, we had to cut his hair.

Curls one minute… buzz cut the next.

Actually, that’s a lie. It was curls one minute, flailing arms and screams the next several (several) minutes, a few buzzes here and there in the meantime, and then a final haircut with curls in a pile on the floor.

We tried to ease our way into it. We brought him to the bathroom, promising his favorite thing: bath. But first, we had to take care of hair. We took care of Daddy’s hair first. We let Little Man hold the clippers while they were off, and while they were on. We let him hold the #5 guard. Then, after we thought he was still happy and content with everything, we put the clippers to his head.

And all hell broke loose in our bathroom.

This right here – this is the moment captured when he was swinging open-palmed punches at me, screaming, “No way! No way!” So of course… we had to take a picture.

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I think I got most of the back of his hair done before we had to switch tactics. Hubs took over and Little Man clung to me with an absolute death grip, not letting go of my neck for anything. He went from assaulting me, to begging me in his own 22-month-old fashion, to save his life.

When Little Man’s fits continued as intensely as they had begun, Brent turned to me at one point and asked, “Is this how alien abduction stories come to be? They’re just poor recollections of first haircuts?” It was traumatic. To be sure.

After what took way longer than we ever imagined it would to cut his hair, I swept up my sweet little boy’s curls into a dustpan and threw them in the trash. He had his bath and recovered quickly from what seemed like a life-altering trauma he had experienced only moments before. He’s a tough one, this kid.

After bath and pajamas, I walked around the corner to see Little Miss, her Daddy, and there – standing on his own two feet, looking at his haircut-studly-self in the mirror and brushing his teeth with his people, Little Man. He had aged five years and now he was brushing his teeth with his curl-less head, like we had not just had Wrestlemania on the bathroom floor an hour earlier.

Seeing him there, toothbrush in mouth, and buzzed head, I started crying. My little boy…. my baby…. so grown up.

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A few days after her little brother’s ordeal, in surprising Little Miss for her birthday coming up in a few days I took her to the salon for a haircut she has been begging for, for almost a year. I didn’t dare use the buzz-clippers on her, so was willing to pay our dear stylist to do the dirty work of a bob cut.

Not only was Little Miss exceptionally excited, but she also grew up right before my very eyes. I tried to playfully talk with her on the drive home about who wouldn’t recognize her, how we could surprise Daddy with her new look, and what all her friends would say when she got on the school bus tomorrow, but as I was smiling and playing along with her imaginative possibilities, a few tears rolled down my cheek.

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These kids… they’re growing up. And there are days I pray for bedtime to come hours before it’s due. And there are days I take a really long time going to the bathroom, just so I can have a moment to myself. And there are days I bust out the “hallelujah!”s when Brent walks in the door after work. But there are also these moments when I wonder what happened to my babies, and who these smart, witty, sassy, incredibly genuine little people are who have stolen my heart.

It started out as a mission to get our son to stop sweating every time he turned around, but it ended up as yet another heart-wrenching lesson about the passage of time. Every moment matters…. because sometimes, all you get is that little moment. I don’t love that my son tried to karate chop my head, but in the next instant when he was trusting me with his life and gripping my neck like it was a life raft in the sea of electric clippers, I could have sat there holding his terrified self all night.

Earlier, when Little Miss came and snuggled with me on the sofa, curling up into my lap as tightly as she could, I was content to sit there as long as possible while her bony little buns carved canyons into my femurs.

It was so much more than just a haircut for him, or a haircut for her. These are memories being etched into our life’s journey as parents of some pretty special kids.

The Letter That Changed My Life

The Letter That Changed My Life

I spent the first 12 years of my life as a valley girl. I lived only a few blocks from the beach in central California. I had naturally bronze skin, naturally bleach-blonde hair, and – like – totally talked – like – I was – like – a valley girl. Watching home videos is painful for me.

The summer before I turned 13, we moved from our home on in Grover Beach (though it was Grover City when I lived there. Random fact.) to a tiny apartment in Powell, Wyoming.

It was the worst summer of my life.

It hailed. I had never seen hail before. And it would hail while the sun was still shining. It was the craziest weather I ever witnessed. I made two friends. My sister and I shared a room with bunk beds, and I grew pretty sick of hanging out with her. Both parents were gone to work every day. And when they were home, they argued. That summer was tough on everybody.

I missed my own room, I missed the beach, and I missed my friends. Especially my best friend.

Thankfully, we kept in touch through letters and phone calls. “Rose” as I’ll call her, was my saving grace. When I knew it was her on the other end of the line, nothing else mattered. She got me. She’d always get me.

Until the day she wouldn’t.

I’ll never forget getting her letter. I tore it open to read the latest goings on. What I read instead was a break up letter.

I never got a definitive answer as to why, but I distinctly remember the phrase, “I will always look back on our friendship with nostalgia.” Just like that, for the cost of a 29 cent postage stamp, my best friend became “someone I used to know.” The longest relationship I ever had was nothing more than memory. A vapor. Poof.

I was devastated. Crushed. Rose, my best friend, had now become a painful thorn in my memory bank. Not only was I struggling to make new friends, but my old ones didn’t want anything to do with me. For 13 year old Val, that was brutal. I’ve never liked the word “nostalgia”.

Thrust into the pits of loneliness, I had to make my new friendships really count, and I had to find more friends. Eighth grade was tough. I hated being the new kid in town. With gigantic glasses and an even bigger fro, it wasn’t easy.

I built a wall few people found their way over. Born a social butterfly, I suddenly tried to make a bigger, stronger, impenetrable cocoon.

In one of my most vulnerable, confidence-lacking moments, I gained a new best friend: Tiff (or Tigger, as I affectionately called her). She even had (has) huge hair like me.

Not only did I have a new best friend, but I began to develop several meaningful and long-lasting relationships. My 20 year reunion (in three years….is that right? It can’t have been that long…) will be full of hugs and high fives from some of the dearest people on the planet.

Tiff & Val

I tend to be a hoarder of relationships – I don’t want to let any of them go. Even if I have to keep them at the furthest arm’s-length distance possible, I can’t ever quite cut ties. I never understood how people could be so comfortable parting ways with other people. “Rose” was the first of many painful breakups for me. After Rose left my life, and after others bypassed the door that continued to my future, it stung.

As intense a sting any of them may have been, the pain hasn’t lasted forever.

I came into better relationships. I found my husband after my heart had been trampled on by a few former suitors. Tiff and I have a friendship that spans over 20 years, and 700 miles. I’m a lousy friend, but she loves me anyway.

Here in North Dakota, it took a long (l-o-n-g) time to connect with anyone on a real meaningful level. Now, especially after everything we’ve been through, I know we are genuinely loved and supported no matter what. At any given time, I could call a long list of people and know these midwesterners would give me everything they had to make sure I was taken care of.

I have the best people.

I’m glad Rose was brave enough to let me go. Maybe she looks back on our elementary friendship with nostalgia, or maybe she never thinks about me another day in her life. More importantly, I’m glad for the deep, nurturing relationships I have today.

Whatever you’re up against in relationships – know it’s a struggle for everyone. Life changes. People change. Some of us are revolving doors, and some of us use revolving doors. It’s not necessarily right or wrong. It’s life. Be encouraged.

But just know if any of you break up with me, I’ll have to blog about you.