Wildebeest’s Hair

Wildebeest is 15.
Wildebeest decided he wanted dreadlocks.
After several failed lunch-hour attempts by friends
to dread his hair, Wildebeest mentioned
another dread method: neglect dreads.

Wildebeest started sporting a snarled head of hair.
I assumed neglect dreads.
And said nothing.
Until he mentioned we needed to order the dreadlock kit
he’d researched online.
The kit with wax.

I said, “But you’re doing neglect dreads.”
He said, “No.”
I said, “Then what’s going on with your hair all snarled up?”
He said, “I’m too lazy to comb it.”

(Insert EXCLAMATION OF YOUR CHOICE)

Yesterday we spent several hours combing out the hair
we’d coated with a half-bottle of conditioner.

I’d comb for a while and then leave him to it,
all the while hoping he’d just give up and ask me to cut it all off.
But the next time I’d go in to where he sat in the bathtub in swim shorts,
he was still working on it.
Tears of pain and frustration in his eyes.

I’d comb some more, apologizing when I yanked his hair.
Still hoping he’d give up and have me cut it.

But then something happened.
I started to root for Wildebeest.
I wanted him to stick with the agony of the comb
until the very last snarl was smoothed from his head.
I didn’t want him to give up.  Give in.
I wanted Wildebeest to keep his long hair.
His major accomplishment.
His freak flag.

So at the end, it was me combing out the last snarls.
Him in tears.
Me crying for my stubborn son who always does stuff the hard way.
I wept, wondering if his life would always be this way.
Him choosing the rockiest path.

We finished. Both exhausted.
I wish I had after photos but I don’t.
Despite the abuse his hair was smooth and silky.

Wildebeest is reconsidering getting dreadlocks.
He has a whole new appreciation for the fact that
dreadlocks require hours of backcombing.

I’ll go with whatever he decides.

45 thoughts on “Wildebeest’s Hair

  1. Some of the most important lessons in life are the most painful. This one, for example. It’s not about the dreadlocks, is it? Not for Wildebeest, nor for you.
    Kudos to you, mama, and to Wildebeest. You came through this experience with flying colors.
    *dabs eyes, thinking about a similar experience involving my own son and a Mr. Rogers-/Kurt Cobain-type sweater*

    Like

    • Now I’m so curious about the Mr. Rogers/Kurt Cobain sweater. But you both survived, right? And your son is doing all right out in the world, right?
      We’ll make it, too. Thank you for sharing this little piece of the journey with me, Melodye.

      Like

  2. My sweetie got locks at 18 and still has them. He tried wax and aloe juice and all kinds of gunk in his unruly hair before giving in and going to a pro. Now he gets his hair did every month or so. Too funny. Hope your kiddo gets the dreds of his dreams very soon!

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    • Wildebeest wants me to do them. Somehow he’s decided he doesn’t need a pro since those who first had dreads created them themselves. Or something like that.
      I’m glad your sweetie still has his beloved locks, and I hope my sweetie figures out what’s best for him.

      Like

    • Always the hard road. Maybe that means the path will seem smoother to him along the way. At some point. Maybe.
      Thanks for sharing in the mom stuff with me, Robin.

      Like

  3. Oh Tracy, this post made me smile…even though I know it was a tough experience for you both. I’m amazed he let you help him–mine wouldn’t let me even come close! And I agree with Robin, you’re a wonderful mom. 🙂

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    • The whole thing does induce smiles. After all, it was a triumph on a certain level. Wildebeest has many issues with me but when it’s about hair, he trusts me to be on his side. I guess that’s as good a starting place as any.

      Like

  4. What an awesome lesson in natural consequences! I’ll bet he combs his hair every day now. LOL.
    Yeah, being a Momma is THE toughest job! Especially when we have to let them learn for themselves. Good for you!

    Like

    • He came upstairs before his shower this morning to retrieve his big tooth comb from the bathroom we used yesterday. He combed and brushed his hair before school.
      Mom is the toughest job. Or maybe that’s teenage boy. Hmm….

      Like

  5. What an awesome lesson in natural consequences! I’ll bet he combs his hair every day now. LOL.

    Yeah, being a Momma is THE toughest job! Especially when we have to let them learn for themselves. Good for you!

    Like

  6. Ouch.
    One son was thinking about the dread kit. I worried about the wax on the couch and the sheets and would he be greasing up my house!
    He went with his brother who was getting a haircut and the barber told him that he could permanently damage the roots (beats me how) but heck, he decided to cut his hair!

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    • I didn’t even think about the grease. At this point, that’s the least of my worries. HA.
      Isn’t it funny how one comment from someone can completely change the trajectory? At this point, I just want him to have the hair he wants. And if that means short hair, that’s okay, too.

      Like

  7. Ouch.
    One son was thinking about the dread kit. I worried about the wax on the couch and the sheets and would he be greasing up my house!

    He went with his brother who was getting a haircut and the barber told him that he could permanently damage the roots (beats me how) but heck, he decided to cut his hair!

    Like

    • I thought of you yesterday, Laurie. I know we’re living parallel lives (in some respects, at least). This stuff is so hard, especially when we know they’re strewing their own rocks. But we just have to hang together and cheer each other on. I appreciate your moral support. Really and truly.

      Like

  8. I hope you told Wildebeest you admired his tenacity.
    He’ll remember that combout moment, and years from now will laugh about it when he tells your grandchildren what he did.

    Like

    • You know what? I didn’t tell him until I read this comment. And then I went downstairs and let him know I was rooting for him and his hair. I detected a note of wonder in his voice when he thanked me.
      Thank you, Kelly, for reminding me. My exhausted brain lost track of that little gem.

      Like

  9. I hope you told Wildebeest you admired his tenacity.

    He’ll remember that combout moment, and years from now will laugh about it when he tells your grandchildren what he did.

    Like

  10. Go, Wildebeest! Gotta let that freak flag high!
    And Tracy, I hope you have an inkling of what a great writer you are. I can’t wait to read your books.

    Like

    • YES to the freak flag! He did it!
      Thank you so much for your kind words regarding my writing. You have no idea how much that means at this point in time, especially from you. Perfect timing, Carolyn.

      Like

  11. Go, Wildebeest! Gotta let that freak flag high!

    And Tracy, I hope you have an inkling of what a great writer you are. I can’t wait to read your books.

    Like

  12. Now I’m so curious about the Mr. Rogers/Kurt Cobain sweater. But you both survived, right? And your son is doing all right out in the world, right?

    We’ll make it, too. Thank you for sharing this little piece of the journey with me, Melodye.

    Like

  13. Wildebeest wants me to do them. Somehow he’s decided he doesn’t need a pro since those who first had dreads created them themselves. Or something like that.

    I’m glad your sweetie still has his beloved locks, and I hope my sweetie figures out what’s best for him.

    Like

  14. Always the hard road. Maybe that means the path will seem smoother to him along the way. At some point. Maybe.

    Thanks for sharing in the mom stuff with me, Robin.

    Like

  15. He came upstairs before his shower this morning to retrieve his big tooth comb from the bathroom we used yesterday. He combed and brushed his hair before school.

    Mom is the toughest job. Or maybe that’s teenage boy. Hmm….

    Like

  16. I didn’t even think about the grease. At this point, that’s the least of my worries. HA.

    Isn’t it funny how one comment from someone can completely change the trajectory? At this point, I just want him to have the hair he wants. And if that means short hair, that’s okay, too.

    Like

  17. You know what? I didn’t tell him until I read this comment. And then I went downstairs and let him know I was rooting for him and his hair. I detected a note of wonder in his voice when he thanked me.

    Thank you, Kelly, for reminding me. My exhausted brain lost track of that little gem.

    Like

  18. YES to the freak flag! He did it!

    Thank you so much for your kind words regarding my writing. You have no idea how much that means at this point in time, especially from you. Perfect timing, Carolyn.

    Like

  19. This is a GREAT post. I agree with Carolyn about the power of your writing, and with doc about how that stubborn determination is an admirable character trait. Although so hard on parents to be parents of! Your son is fortunate to have a strong mama. And yay for Kelly reminding us to share that admiration. I love reading this whole page!
    Here’s hoping our strong, stubborn, independent-minded sons don’t kill us.

    Like

    • It makes sense you’d like this post since you’re on the 15-year-old cusp. Don’t look down, Dot!!!
      And amen to them not killing us.
      Thanks for chiming in and sharing on the mama journey with me.

      Like

  20. This is a GREAT post. I agree with Carolyn about the power of your writing, and with doc about how that stubborn determination is an admirable character trait. Although so hard on parents to be parents of! Your son is fortunate to have a strong mama. And yay for Kelly reminding us to share that admiration. I love reading this whole page!

    Here’s hoping our strong, stubborn, independent-minded sons don’t kill us.

    Like

  21. It makes sense you’d like this post since you’re on the 15-year-old cusp. Don’t look down, Dot!!!

    And amen to them not killing us.

    Thanks for chiming in and sharing on the mama journey with me.

    Like

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