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.