Look at that beautiful fuzz!
My friend posted on facebook that she was planning to take her little boy for his first hair cut and since our boys are the same age I felt a wave of maternal anxiety at the idea.
My youngest arrived with a precious layer of strawberry-blond silk that glowed in the sunlight and stood out around his head like a halo in every photograph we took. But now, like his little friend, his hair is getting a bit untidy. It still curls charmingly at the nap of his neck, but it also hangs in his eyes and is frayed with split ends. The thought of cutting it, though, nearly breaks my heart.
When my oldest son was little he would sit perfectly still on my lap as I ran my fingers through his hair. Now, at four, he stands on a dining room chair once every few weeks as I painstakingly snip and trim. As he squirms, all itchy and twitchy, I watch large swaths of thick dirty-blond hair falling floor. His wiggling wears me thin, but when I threaten to stop half-way through he stills himself immediately, relishing these rare moments of maternal attention.
My daughter doesn’t let me play with her hair, but nearly every day of kindergarten she asked for two braids and stood hopping from foot to foot as I wove the strands in place. After years of trimming her long locks at home I now take her to Holiday Hair and sit in the empty chair beside her watching her watch herself in the mirror.
Sophia's first day of school braid.
I number their hairs, these children of mine. I scrub and rinse, watching the water as it pours down over them. I chant “look up, look up, look up,” begging them to tip their heads back so that the soap won’t run into their eyes. I pat their heads and trim as needed, watching bits of their childhood fall to the floor with each snip of the scissors. These are some of the many little ways I care for them – brushing and combing and smoothing down – some of the many ways I express my love.
The intimate relationship a mother has with her child’s hair reminds me of the place in scripture where we are reminded that God numbers the hairs on our heads. As I marvel at the little curls that form on their sweaty heads during nap time, I hear the passage anew as yet another picture of God’s great love for us; God who knows and loves us with something like the intimacy between a mother and her tow-headed children.
It won’t be long until they’re cutting and combing and numbering their own hairs, but on days when they feel lost or alone, I hope they’ll remember the feeling of my hand on their head, my voice saying, “Look up, look up,” as the water runs down. I hope they’ll remember the One who loves them even more than their mother does, the One who numbers the very hairs of their heads.
My boy's beautiful locks.