Manis, Pedis & Pigtails: A Dad's Dilemma

Andrew Dalton

Over at the always-relevant Daddy Issues blog, Mike Adamick tackles the toddler mani/pedi. And as usual I'm feelin' him -- his 3-year-old wants a salon pampering experience for her birthday and he wants one, too.

Sounds like a great idea to me -- some relaxing daddy/daughter time. Especially the "pedi" part. I've never had so much as a foot rub. Seems every girl I ever went out with was a huge pedi-phobe, when it came to both giving and receiving. Gave me a foot complex I'm not sure I can overcome so easily.

But I'm wary, for both myself and my daughter, because I've never been to a salon. I'm not sure I could sit still long enough. Never been to a barber either. And I've almost never owned a comb.

Truth is, I just suck at grooming. At a very early age, I embraced punk then grunge then proto-emo, where dirty and unkempt were not just okay, but required. It suited my natural slobiness perfectly. Now it has of course transformed into aging-quasi-hipster, which means more frequent showers and trips to the dentist, but still no comb.

Enter a little girl desperate for frills and pigtails. I had hoped -- assumed really -- that the kid would just embrace my style and do a dresses-with-boots-and-hair clumps thing. But no, she wants gelled elegance, and of course we all want our kids to go into the world looking like they've actually been fed and cleaned.

I hate the idea of the clueless dad, in movies and in life, and I've done a lot to overcome it with my somewhat skillful work in the kitchen and at the diaper table.

But in the bathroom on a deadline, I'm a pure fumbler straight out of Three Men and a Baby or Big Daddy or every sitcom ever.

So when I've got her, and my mom's not around, it's left to me. And damn it's hard to make pigtails symmetrical, especially on an unruly toddler, especially for the world's slowest learner. I can no more absorb it when my mom tries to teach me braiding technique as when my dad tried to teach me how to change a carburetor.

A lot of the problem -- and this goes back to cleaning the funny crevices at the diaper table -- is that I'm not rough enough. I refuse to pull the hair hard enough to get it where it needs to go. Of course by doing it gently and half-assedly I make the pain and annoyance worse by stretching it out over minutes. 

And nail-painting? A horror. A nightmare. A massacre. I'm like Jackson Pollock after a triple-bender, and my girl's nails are the canvas I was angry at, but I can't break them over my knee and throw them in the dumpster.

So the solution seems easy. Just take the little lady to the salon, and to the hairstylist, and be done with it. Well, besides the poverty involved, I'm even more clueless in those places.

I'm worried I'm going to violate some bit of protocol, touch something I'm not supposed to, forget to tip someone I am supposed to, or drink some liquid that is actually for sanitizing and force a 911 call.

As toddler years become big-girl years, I have gotten better with the hair. My skills have finally improved, just in time for the kid to start saying she can do it herself.

Anyone out there want pigtails? I'll hook you up. I can make them almost straight! And I've got my own comb!

But who can help me with the mani/pedi?


Image via AbigailBatchelder/Flickr

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