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Social Studies

Doing Hair On Daddy's Girl

Emily Flake

By Vincent Williams | Posted 4/16/2008

In a sign of things to come, we actually didn't find out my daughter's gender until, literally, hours before she was born because, well, she just wasn't cooperating. In every sonogram we took, she was always facing backward so that we didn't know for sure whether she was going to be a boy or a girl. That's right: My child was literally showing her ass months before she even got here. The point is that I didn't have a long time to get used to the notion that I was going to have a daughter. One thing about it, though, in the few hours before her birth when we knew for sure we were having a little girl, I swore I wasn't going to be one of those fathers. I would learn how to do my little girl's hair.

Because when it comes to the line of demarcation between traditional fathers and the kind I'm trying to be, it always comes down to the hair. We've all seen little girls out with Dad, and their hair just looks crazy, almost as if they just rolled out of bed. There are pieces sticking out everywhere, there aren't any barrettes, and, if there are, they're just kind of stuck on there. And, as a community, we say, "Yep, she's out with Dad," as if that's an excuse for the little girl to look like some kind of nut.

As it is, I'm on thin ice every time we're alone. Since we've been parents, my wife has had to travel without us a few times, and every single time, both my mother and hers are quick to ask who's going to take care of their grandchild. And, when my wife tells them that, well, she's going to be staying with me, both grandmothers just sort of grunt and roll their eyes as if leaving a child alone with her father is some kind of young people foolishness. So the fact that I can be left to tend to my daughter's appearance, and can not only choose clothes but also be left near her hair, is something unheard of. Quietly, I think both of them might be learning that I sometimes do her hair right now, as they're reading this column. Um . . . hi, ladies.

I have to say, three years later, I do a'ight. I mean, I'm not making parts or doing a whole lot of braiding and plaiting or . . . OK, I can't really do hair, per se. But, if my wife has done it the day before (or even the day before that), I can do that brush, brush, gather, and pull the hair up into a barrette thing so that, when it's just me and her in the house, I can make her presentable when we go out. In fact, I've gotten so good at the polish, if you will, that my wife let's me do it even when she is around.

And, lemme tell ya, this is something that is brand new to the Williams men. You're not supposed to speak in absolutes, but I can confidently say that my father never, ever came near my sister's hair. My dad was old school; my mom did hair, child bathing, etc. Hell, truth be told, I'm not really sure my siblings and I were allowed to go on errands and stuff with my father until we were potty trained.

Still, more than gaining a new ability, being able to do hair opens up a whole new mind-set in regards to having a daughter. This kind of girl-centric activity is not something I grew up doing, and learning how to, within the context of doing it with my own daughter, has been quite the education. Now, besides the hair, I'm an old pro at being a guest at a tea party, engaging in those incredibly intricate hand games girls seem to learn through osmosis, and, frankly, I've had more than my share of barrettes in my own hair. I'm not really that happy about it (certainly not when she wants to play photographer in the middle of "doing Daddy's hair"), but there's nothing like staring into those big brown eyes and going along with whatever she wants.

"Daddy's Little Girl." It's an old phrase, but more and more I'm finding out just how true it is. She and I are continually forging a unique bond; my wife already calls her, "Vince's child." But what no one really talks about is that, while we're focusing on how these little girls gravitate toward their fathers and do things for them they won't for others, the opposite is also true. I do things for her that I wouldn't do for anyone else. Doing hair is just part of the deal. H

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