Kids, Thoughts

My Toddler Eats Hair

 

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Well, not really. He kind of just pets it and sucks on it. He  is addicted to it though. I mean, if he doesn’t get his hairs he gets the shakes and becomes violent. I’m serious. When he receives the strand(s), freshly ripped from my scalp, he pins the top of it to his left thumb and wraps the tail around and around his left hand using the kind of deft, quick movements an Amish furniture maker or longtime machine operator might use. He leaves an inch or two hanging from the left fist and plugs the left thumb into his mouth. This allows him to suck his thumb and the hair at the same time while still having a soft thread hanging at the bottom of his fist to stroke with his right hand. Sometimes as he sucks contentedly he’ll sigh and squeeze his eyes shut with the kind of pure, extreme pleasure only a very small child or heavy drug user seems to be able to experience.

It started when he was an infant. I have long hair and whenever he would nurse he would contentedly hold a hank in his chubby little fist. It was cute, but I didn’t think anything of it. He never pulled or twisted the hair or did anything that would hurt me.  He just seemed to enjoy feeling the texture, almost admiring it, like an upholsterer lovingly fingering a luxury fabric.

The problems started when he he was ready to leave my lap but needed to take his hairs with him. He would toddle off, still clutching a few strands when the jerk of the still connected hairs would catch him up short. He’d look around in surprise and give em a quick yank, like you might a dawdling dog on a leash. This would effectively remove the hair from my head, yoink!, and on he’d go. Problem solved. Although mildly unpleasant, it didn’t happen often enough for me to consider it a real issue. But then I stopped nursing him.

He weaned himself early, around 8 months, because he was a super social baby and nursing was boring. It was emotionally hard to give him formula, but I couldn’t force him to nurse and he switched to bottles with no problems. But after that, whenever he needed comfort, a scraped knee, a bump on his little noggin, and it was straight to the hair he went. After he figured out how to remove the hair from my head, it was all over. He’d sneak up, rip a handful out, and take off, quick as a flash. I tried wearing my hair up but he’d just reach around to the back and get him some kinky bottom layer.

At some point around his second birthday he got lazy. Suddenly he didn’t even want to put forth the effort of getting the hair himself. He wanted ME to pull it out and bring it to him. He would call, “hairs, hairs, HAIRS” until I delivered the goods, each word increasing in volume until it was a piercing shriek that couldn’t be ignored. He pronounced it, HAY-er, like a deranged southerner, and enjoyed yelling it into my face in public. He often did this in the grocery store where people turned and stared, wondering what kind of horrible mother was denying her child either food, water, or love.

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 I developed bald, stubbly patches behind my ears, where I thought I could pull the most hair with the least visual impact. In desperation I offered him my hairbrush and a kind of hairy stuffed animal, both immediately disdained and flung aside. I gave him a barbie like doll with long flowing golden curls. He dubbed her mama and in a matter of weeks, he turned her head into a dreadlocked wasteland.

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 Once mama was scalped, I picked up a replacement doll named by the company that forged her as, Kellan.

“Look buddy,” I chirped in false and bright tones, “this is Kellan, she’s your new mama!” He dubiously received her and waddled off. After working her strawberry blonde mane into a strange H shape for an hour, he flung her under his bed and yelled, “NO KELLAN! hairs, hairs, HAIRS!” And on it went.

But today is the last day. I’ve decided the only way I can help my locks obsessed little prince free himself from the chains of his addiction is to go cold turkey. I gave him one last succulent strand to savor and That. Is. IT. I’ll let you know how it goes, but for now I’m gonna fix myself a cocktail and massage my scalp. They say it’s good for hair regrowth.

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