The Single Dad’s Guide to Kid’s Hair Care

In the beginning, it was just me + a cheap garden rake dollar store hairbrush + a heart full of hope.

Here I was, a newly single dad, and here she was, a five-year-old little girl who needed her hair brushed and made decent. Even though I had never even come close to doing her hair before I figured, how hard could it be, right?

Well, I should have known better. As it turns out those three things, when combined in unison, will lead you directly to the Gates of Hell, my friend (just in case that’s a place you happened to have jotted down as a “Must-see!” on your dumb bucket list of stuff to do before you croak).

It only took me maybe a second and change before I had Violet bawling. You never see this stuff coming, really, but when you’re messing things up big time, the world has a way of letting you know it before long. At one point soon after I began my attack on my own kid’s head, she swung her weeping face around like a rabid fox and actually tried to bite my arm in a desperate effort to stop my advance. Right then, right there, that’s pretty much when you know, buddy. That’s when you kinda catch a notion that you’re doing it wrong.

Poor Violet. I probably traumatized my only daughter more in just a minute or so of dad-brushing (aka child abuse) than I can even imagine. Her shrill cries for mercy will stay with both of us for a long time to come, I’m sure of that much. And so, desperate and shaken and quivering in the wake of so much chaos and pain, I admitted massive defeat and reached out to Monica, Violet’s mom, and the people of Facebook for help.

The first thing they told me? There’s a million YouTube videos that show you how to brush a kid’s hair. Ugh. That figures. But I’m an idiot, what can I tell you? The thought to look there never even crossed my mind. Anyway, people helped. They gave me all sorts of advice and ideas and now these days, I’m combing and prettying up my baby’s thick hair with mad skills, thanks to all of the feedback I got from Monica and the kind folks in cyberspace.

So look, I want to return the favor. I want to leave you with a couple of short but sweet tips. They’re nothing revolutionary, mind you, but I’m hoping that any single dads out there who run across this mini-horror story of mine might find them helpful. I just hope you’re lucky enough to run across this BEFORE you try to brush your daughter’s hair with what will feel to her like a hatchet and a dried-up severed grizzly bear paw.

Here we go then: three things single dads need to know about when it comes to fixing her hair first thing in the morning …

1. Television

Hey, this might not work for every desperate dad in the world, but it sure does work for me. I was advised to get the kid seated in front of the tube before beginning any hair work and it has proven to be the Golden Tip if there ever was one. I know there are plenty of parents who shun TV because they want their kids to be well-rounded and intellectual and able to speak six languages by the time they’re in second grade, but screw all that stuff. If you are a single dad and you need to get some hair combed, take advantage of the fact that sticking your kid in front of a little Sponge Bob is like using Novocaine at the dentist.

2. Spray Bottle

Do not, under any circumstances whatsoever, try and brush/comb/touch/or even look at your young lady’s hair without a cheap spray bottle full of water on-hand. Trust me on this one. You need to put a little towel around their neck and shoulders so they don’t complain about the wet and the chill, and sit them down in front of a TV, and then spray the hell out of their knotted morning hair with a lot of water. This makes things a thousand times easier than getting all up in her dry hair with your pitchfork ways. Get that hair good and soaked and then watch how much easier it is to work with it. Of course, if she’s fresh out of the shower or bath, just make sure her hair is still wet and you’re good to go.

3. One-Inch-at-a-Time

Once you have that wet mop in front of you, then you’re ready to make your move with that brush (I recommend this one by the way — it’s worth every penny). Don’t try and go too fast. And don’t think you can plow through an acre at a time, Farmer John! You need to start from the bottom with short strokes, never trying to brush much more than an inch or so at a clip. As you get more experience under your belt, you’ll be able to maybe stretch things out to two or even three inches at a time, but don’t ever try much more than that, okay? By using short and slow diagonal brush strokes you will get the job done the right way, without yanking her hair back and pinching her like the clumsy barbarian that you know you are.

Good luck, gents.

Image: Bielanko Private

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