Every morning after breakfast, Mom would brush and brush and brush Leslie’s hair. She would pick out an outfit for Leslie to wear, and then Leslie would watch cartoons and have to sit so, so still while Mom tried out lots of different hairstyles.
She would watch videos on the computer or look at pictures and then start tugging and pulling and twisting Leslie’s hair. Even if her hair was pulling on her head, Leslie wasn’t supposed to follow it and twist her head and turn.
When Mom got her hair just how she liked it, she would undo it all and brush and brush her hair again. Now, Leslie needed to sit in a chair and face the wall. Mom would do it all over, stopping to take pictures and write down notes. Then it was time to curl the ends and spray it. More pictures.
Leslie would go back to her cartoons and Mom would start typing on the computer. And finally it was lunchtime. Mom had been doing this for months and months, and really it wasn’t so bad. It made Mom happy, and Leslie’s head didn’t get sore at all any more from all the brushing and twisting and pulling.
But, one morning, Leslie woke up feeling grumpy. “I don’t want you to do my hair,” Leslie said. She was wearing an outfit she picked out and not the one Mom left out for her.
Mom frowned. “But Leslie, I had a great idea last night. Look, I drew a picture. I think you’ll love it. It looks like a flower, see.”
Leslie looked at the picture and looked away. It did look nice, but today, Leslie hated it. “No,” Leslie said.
“I’ll give you some fruit snacks,” Mom said. “The ones that are all strawberry-shaped.”
Leslie loved those. But not today. “No.”
Mom looked sad. “All right dear.” She sat on the couch and started flipping through a magazine.
“I want cartoons,” Leslie said.
“Not today dear,” Mom said. She looked up and smiled. “Why don’t you go play with your blocks.”
“I want cartoons and I want fruit snacks,” Leslie said. She stomped her foot angrily.
“That’s not the polite way to ask for things,” Mom said.
Leslie screamed. She roared. She stomped. Mom left the room. Leslie started to cry. Mom didn’t come back in. Not even when Leslie threw the tv remote at the wall. Finally, feeling defeated, Leslie went and found Mom. “You can do my hair,” she grumbled. “But I want three fruit snacks.”
“Two,” Mom said, and closed her magazine.
“Three,” Leslie said. She stomped her foot and scowled.
“All right,” Mom said. She stood up from the kitchen table and got the fruit snacks from the cupboard.
Leslie had already missed the first of her favorite cartoons. She folded her arms and scowled at the tv. She growled every time her mom pulled on her hair or twisted it, and sometimes she angrily jerked her head.
“Leslie,” Mom said once. Leslie growled louder. Mom didn’t say anything else.
When Mom was busy typing, Leslie stomped off to the living room. Her head hurt from the crying and the growling. She didn’t want to watch cartoons. She stomped to the kitchen to get a drink of water. There were scissors on the counter.
Leslie took the scissors and hid them under her shirt. Then, she snuck into the bathroom. She sat on the counter in front of the mirror and grabbed her braid and snipped it off. It took a couple snips to get all the way through.
The cut ends of braid started to unravel. Leslie looked at the braid sitting in her hand, looking dead and broken. She suddenly felt alarmed. She jumped off the counter and stumbled a little. She shoved the braid in a drawer with the soap and ran to her bedroom and hid under the blankets.
A little while later, Mom came in. “Leslie, are you feeling okay? Were you grumpy because you feel sick? What’s wrong?”
“I’m fine. Go away,” Leslie said. She clutched the edges of the blanket tightly in her hands in front of her face. But mom flipped the blanket off of her from behind.
“Oh, Leslie,” she said.
Leslie began to cry. “I’m sorry. I’m sorry, mom.”
But Mom was smiling. “I’ve always wanted to try hairstyles for short hair. This was a great idea. Let’s go even out the ends.” She held out her hand.
Leslie couldn’t believe her luck. She took Mom’s hand and followed her out of the room.
“No more playing with scissors,” Mom said, as they walked down the hall.
“Okay,” Leslie said. And that was that.