Sunday, April 26, 2009

Hair Inheritance

We blame our parents whenever we can. I can't blame my mom for my hair, though--hers was a beautiful black, thick and glossy with healthy bounce. Mine is fine, straight and brown, making up in quantity what it lacks in quality. I wish I'd received a free haircut every time I heard the stylist say: "You've got a lot of hair." It would have saved me a bundle.

Of course there are other attributes I inherited from Mom--though she was only quick to point out the negative ones. I wonder now at her self esteem, the way she owned to our similarities only when it came to failings.

"I'm afraid you take after me," she'd say often, referring to my big bones, my haphazard organizational skills, or my general clumsiness.

I still wonder if she thought I was a chip off the old block in good ways, too.

For better or worse, I was born a blonde. During puberty, my hair transformed to a mouse brown shade, the color working its way from the outside layers in. At twelve years old, when I wore my hair in pigtails, the back of my head revealed a distinct line between the brown of the outside layers and the blonde beneath.

"That's so ... weird," friends commented until, with typical adolescent self-consciousness, I stopped wearing pigtails altogether.

Since my daughter refused to wear pigtails (or tie her hair back for any other reason) since birth, I'm not sure if her hair faded from blonde to brown in a similar manner, but fade it did.

She still hasn't forgiven me. "It's all your fault," she says. "I got your ugly brown hair. I wish it was still blonde."

"Yes, it is all my fault," I admit, "but it's also my fault that you've got dimples and that charming smile."

She rolls her eyes, but at least she knows I see the good in myself as well as the bad. While some traits are inherited, others don't have to be.

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