Question: Why does my teenage daughter play with her hair all the time?
As much as I love to be consulted like the Oracle at Delphi, I must confess that I really do not know the answer to everything. Nevertheless, my faithful readers will confirm that although I do not have an answer for every conundrum, I always have an opinion. As a Southern woman, I consider bossiness to be my birthright, and I take great pride in my work. For example, I have no idea how a pair of dirty socks goes in to the laundry hamper, and yet only a single sock survives the trek through the wash-and-spin cycle. Neither do I know why any human male intentionally wears his pants pulled down to the half-moon position. That’s not flattering on anyone. I certainly don’t know why no one in my household is capable of changing the toilet paper roll except me. It’s not an arduous task. It takes thirty seconds—tops. Maddening. Finally, I have no idea why teenage girls play with their hair all the time. That drives me crazy, too.
Here’s how I see it: There is no more vain creature on earth than a teenage girl. On the tip-top of her vanity list: her hair. Current hair fashions favor long, straight hair. As a result, my teenage daughter spends hours and hours coaxing the natural curls out of her hair with an iron (think about that idiocy for a second) so that it will fall straight and sleek down her back. Frankly, I cannot possibly care less how she styles her hair, as long as it’s clean and out of her face. However, I sympathize with this week’s reader who is clearly irked by the constant petting of the hair by the teenager in her house. My daughter indulges in hair petting, too. She strokes it like it’s a cat clamoring for attention or the mane of a pony poking through the fence at the petting zoo. Teenage hair is a beehive (could not resist the hair pun) of activity. My daughter spends more time on her hair than her homework. There’s no question about it. When she talks on the phone, listens to me spout words of wisdom, or rides in a car, one thing is for sure: one hand will be mindlessly stroking her long brown locks. It makes me want to screech through two octaves.
Bottom line: Teenage girls are hair-centered humans. There’s not a lot you can do about it. I’ve tried. I hound my daughter constantly: Get your hands out of your hair! Our conversations go like this: “Did you finish your homework? Excellent. Do you want a sandwich? No? Are you sure? Quit petting your hair! Thank you. How was cheerleading today?” The hair preoccupation is a common parental complaint. Unfortunately, it’s not illegal. It’s merely irritating. I have a long list of irritating things that I wish were illegal that I have to suck up—things like poor grammar on billboards, loud talking by moviegoers, and other people’s horribly behaved children. In the scheme of things, hair petting is way down my list.