Monday, March 8, 2010

Personal hygiene for a pre-teen

Leo has always had a ton of hair. But, he's a boy. I was able to keep it relatively short, and if I didn't brush it smooth every morning, well... let's say he had a recognizable look. La tignasse they called him (lightly translatable as mop head).

These days he has decided to let his hair grow long. The last time I was allowed to come near him with scissors was this past summer. The hair is now past his shoulders. And, blessed as we are in this family with incredibly thick pelts, he has a ton of hair.

The teachers at school are beginning to complain. So we got him a bandanna to hold it down and permit him to see in class without needing to permanently wipe the hair from his eyes, and to limit the flick of his head to the right (and a possible krick in his neck at the tender age of 12 1/2). I've chosen not to make this a battleground. Let him test out the long hair thing now. And likely, just as my brother did when he was a teenager, he'll get it out of his system and in the end prefer a simpler style that requires less maintenance.

The bandana helps -- though he often forgets it at his father's over the weekend, so I cut up old sheets into large squares as replacements. Soon a rubber band will be in order (though for the moment, this latter he scorns). I realize that my child has never learned to properly use a hair brush. Or rather, he knows how to physically manipulate one, but that this can and should be done on a daily basis escapes him. After a shower, he is often caught combing his hair for hours in front of the mirror, trying different doos. But in the morning? fresh from bed? So, for Christmas he found a brush in his stocking... along with a razor and shaving cream.

The next step is to get him to shower more frequently. When he was a little boy, the nightly bath was just part of the ritual. Somehow, we've lost that, and it's a job getting my child into the shower after hand-ball practice. Hey, I tell him, you're an adolescent now, three times a week is the minimum! And, your hair is not only full of dust, but it's getting greasy and heavy. It's all part of your age and where you're at. You don't stink yet, but that too will come. And if you want to avoid getting pimples you need to keep your hair clean and off your face, and no poking at them with your fingers. You'll need to cultivate a daily routine of washing your face and your hands frequently...

Yes, this is part of our patter and discussion these days. Slowly, the message is getting through. Now, the next thing to learn is that showers can be a mere fifteen minutes long... not thirty.

Curious. I don't think mothers of girls go through quite the same routine and educational process.

1 comment:

Gillian said...

No, girls spend hours and hours on their grooming amid a sea of discarded clothes strewn about the floor and just about all over the house, whose need to be 'groomed' into shape is totally ignored despite frequent rants from a mother seemingly condemned to live in a messy home!!!