Child Psychology

In my last post, I shared my experiences as a recipient of corporal punishment. Here’s a look at the subject from a different perspective. This story is pure fiction. Since I never had kids, I didn’t have experiences to draw on. The idea came to me in a dream one night a few years ago, and I went to my computer and took it from there. Enjoy!

CHILD PSYCHOLOGY

Whack! Whack! Whack! The palm of my hand slapped my little boy’s pajama-clad bottom a few times while he screamed and writhed in pain and frustration. I picked him up and carried him upstairs to his room. He continued to cry. I spoke not a word as I removed his soiled pajamas and dressed him in clean clothes. He was sniffling as I said, “Now, are you ready to come downstairs and eat your breakfast like a civilize human being?”

His crying resumed in earnest. “Fine,” I said in disgust as I turned toward the door. “You can just stay there and cry. Don’t come downstairs until you’re ready to stop crying and behave.”

In the doorway, I stopped short. At the top of the stairs stood my neighbor Brenda. I braced for another round of negative criticism. “I heard Dylan screaming. Is he okay?” she asked.

“He’s fine,” I said as I pulled the door closed. “He just needs some time to himself.”

“Oh, Cheryl, did you spank him again?” she asked, her eyebrows raised in disapproval.

With a sigh, I answered, “I won’t deny it, but he needs to learn to control himself. You should see the mess in the kitchen.”

“It can’t be that bad. He’s only two. What do you expect?”

“I know how old my kid is. I turned my back for one minute, and there was milk everywhere, all over the table, all over him, on the floor. I swear to God this kid is the mess maker from Hell.”

“Okay, I was only trying to help,” she said, as she turned to descend the stairs. “I don’t have time to argue with you. Now that I know Dylan’s okay, I’ll go about my business.” She hurried down the stairs, and I heard the screen door slam.

Fuming, I rushed to the kitchen. I had a million things to do today, and I didn’t have time for this. Ever since Brenda moved into the apartment next door a few weeks ago, she criticized the way I disciplined Dylan. Whenever I spanked him, she appeared,, acting as if she thought the boy was involved in a serious accident. When she learned the truth, she uttered her famous line. “He’s only two. What do you expect?”

Brenda had no children of her own. She claimed to have a degree in child psychology. That didn’t give her as much knowledge about child-rearing as the actual experience, I thought, as I wiped the table, Dylan’s chair, and the floor around it with a wet rag.

The mess wasn’t that big. Dylan’s pajamas had absorbed most of the milk. There was a puddle on the table and maybe a few drops had splashed onto the chair and the floor. My anger evaporated, as I sank into a chair and placed my head in my hands.

I reflected on the events of the morning. Dylan was sitting at the table, chattering as he ate his cereal. I was washing dishes and thinking about the day ahead and not paying much attention to him. I heard the clatter of a plastic glass overturning and the dribbling sound of liquid being spilled. I turned around, and as I suspected, Dylan had upset his milk glass.

As I relived this scene, memories of my own childhood came flooding back to me, memories of times when my own mother spanked me for knocking over a glass of milk or spilling spaghetti down my front. At the time, I was a few years older than Dylan. Perhaps I should have known better, but the humiliation still hurt. Tears flowed down my cheeks, as I sat recalling these scenes. Like Dylan, I was playing while eating to keep occupied because my mother, like me, was too busy. I was about six or seven. Dylan was only two. Maybe Brenda was right.

Most weekday mornings were the same old routine. My husband left early for work before Dylan was out of bed. So it was my responsibility to get him up, dressed, and ready for the day. Although I was a stay at home mom, my days were filled with cleaning or shopping or trips to the gym or various volunteer obligations while Dylan was in preschool. So most mornings, I was preoccupied with the day’s schedule.

I blew my nose and shook my head, as I tried to remember the last time I sat down and ate breakfast with Dylan and talked to him about what he was thinking or what he wanted to do that day. Usually on weekends, the three of us ate a late breakfast together, but when had I recently taken the time to enjoy the meal with my son?

With determination, I marched upstairs to Dylan’s room. I opened the door a crack and peeked inside. He was lying on the floor face down, but he turned to me when he heard the door creak. The curtains were drawn, and in the dim light, I couldn’t see his face, but I knew he was hurting. I turned on the overhead light and crossed to where he lay, kneeling by his side. “I’m sorry, Mommy,” he said with a note of desperation in his voice.

“I’m sorry, too,” I said, stroking his hair. “I shouldn’t have spanked you. We all make mistakes. I spilled plenty of milk when I was your age.”

Dylan gazed at me in astonishment, as I took him in my arms and held him, drinking in the scent of the shampoo I’d used on his hair the night before. Fresh sobs erupted from him, shaking his shoulders as he snuggled against me. “It’s okay,” I said, as I rocked him and stroked his back. A minute later, I said, “Why don’t we go downstairs and eat breakfast together, you and me?”

“Can we really?” he asked, as he gaped at me in amazement.

“Sure, why not?” I said, rising to my feet and pulling him to a standing position. “We’ve got plenty of time.”

Hand in hand, we returned to the kitchen. A while later when Brenda appeared with a social worker from the Department of Child Protective Services, Dylan and I were sitting at the kitchen table, eating cream of wheat, laughing, and talking. “You’re right, Brenda,” I said. “He’s only two. What should I expect?”

THE END

Abbie Johnson Taylor, Author of We Shall Overcome http://www.abbiejohnsontaylor.com

abbie@samobile.net

Child Psychology

In my last post, I shared my experiences as a recipient of corporal punishment. Here’s a look at the subject from a different perspective. This story is pure fiction. Since I never had kids, I didn’t have experiences to draw on. The idea came to me in a dream one night a few years ago, and I went to my computer and took it from there. Enjoy!

CHILD PSYCHOLOGY

Whack! Whack! Whack! The palm of my hand slapped my little boy’s pajama-clad bottom a few times while he screamed and writhed in pain and frustration. I picked him up and carried him upstairs to his room. He continued to cry. I spoke not a word as I removed his soiled pajamas and dressed him in clean clothes. He was sniffling as I said, “Now, are you ready to come downstairs and eat your breakfast like a civilize human being?”
His crying resumed in earnest. “Fine,” I said in disgust as I turned toward the door. “You can just stay there and cry. Don’t come downstairs until you’re ready to stop crying and behave.”
In the doorway, I stopped short. At the top of the stairs stood my neighbor Brenda. I braced for another round of negative criticism. “I heard Dylan screaming. Is he okay?” she asked.
“He’s fine,” I said as I pulled the door closed. “He just needs some time to himself.”
“Oh, Cheryl, did you spank him again?” she asked, her eyebrows raised in disapproval.
With a sigh, I answered, “I won’t deny it, but he needs to learn to control himself. You should see the mess in the kitchen.”
“It can’t be that bad. He’s only two. What do you expect?”
“I know how old my kid is. I turned my back for one minute, and there was milk everywhere, all over the table, all over him, on the floor. I swear to God this kid is the mess maker from Hell.”
“Okay, I was only trying to help,” she said, as she turned to descend the stairs. “I don’t have time to argue with you. Now that I know Dylan’s okay, I’ll go about my business.” She hurried down the stairs, and I heard the screen door slam.
Fuming, I rushed to the kitchen. I had a million things to do today, and I didn’t have time for this. Ever since Brenda moved into the apartment next door a few weeks ago, she criticized the way I disciplined Dylan. Whenever I spanked him, she appeared,, acting as if she thought the boy was involved in a serious accident. When she learned the truth, she uttered her famous line. “He’s only two. What do you expect?”
Brenda had no children of her own. She claimed to have a degree in child psychology. That didn’t give her as much knowledge about child-rearing as the actual experience, I thought, as I wiped the table, Dylan’s chair, and the floor around it with a wet rag.
The mess wasn’t that big. Dylan’s pajamas had absorbed most of the milk. There was a puddle on the table and maybe a few drops had splashed onto the chair and the floor. My anger evaporated, as I sank into a chair and placed my head in my hands.
I reflected on the events of the morning. Dylan was sitting at the table, chattering as he ate his cereal. I was washing dishes and thinking about the day ahead and not paying much attention to him. I heard the clatter of a plastic glass overturning and the dribbling sound of liquid being spilled. I turned around, and as I suspected, Dylan had upset his milk glass.
As I relived this scene, memories of my own childhood came flooding back to me, memories of times when my own mother spanked me for knocking over a glass of milk or spilling spaghetti down my front. At the time, I was a few years older than Dylan. Perhaps I should have known better, but the humiliation still hurt. Tears flowed down my cheeks, as I sat recalling these scenes. Like Dylan, I was playing while eating to keep occupied because my mother, like me, was too busy. I was about six or seven. Dylan was only two. Maybe Brenda was right.
Most weekday mornings were the same old routine. My husband left early for work before Dylan was out of bed. So it was my responsibility to get him up, dressed, and ready for the day. Although I was a stay at home mom, my days were filled with cleaning or shopping or trips to the gym or various volunteer obligations while Dylan was in preschool. So most mornings, I was preoccupied with the day’s schedule.
I blew my nose and shook my head, as I tried to remember the last time I sat down and ate breakfast with Dylan and talked to him about what he was thinking or what he wanted to do that day. Usually on weekends, the three of us ate a late breakfast together, but when had I recently taken the time to enjoy the meal with my son?
With determination, I marched upstairs to Dylan’s room. I opened the door a crack and peeked inside. He was lying on the floor face down, but he turned to me when he heard the door creak. The curtains were drawn, and in the dim light, I couldn’t see his face, but I knew he was hurting. I turned on the overhead light and crossed to where he lay, kneeling by his side. “I’m sorry, Mommy,” he said with a note of desperation in his voice.
“I’m sorry, too,” I said, stroking his hair. “I shouldn’t have spanked you. We all make mistakes. I spilled plenty of milk when I was your age.”
Dylan gazed at me in astonishment, as I took him in my arms and held him, drinking in the scent of the shampoo I’d used on his hair the night before. Fresh sobs erupted from him, shaking his shoulders as he snuggled against me. “It’s okay,” I said, as I rocked him and stroked his back. A minute later, I said, “Why don’t we go downstairs and eat breakfast together, you and me?”
“Can we really?” he asked, as he gaped at me in amazement.
“Sure, why not?” I said, rising to my feet and pulling him to a standing position. “We’ve got plenty of time.”
Hand in hand, we returned to the kitchen. A while later when Brenda appeared with a social worker from the Department of Child Protective Services, Dylan and I were sitting at the kitchen table, eating cream of wheat, laughing, and talking. “You’re right, Brenda,” I said. “He’s only two. What should I expect?”

THE END

Abbie Johnson Taylor, Author of We Shall Overcome http://www.abbiejohnsontaylor.com
abbie@samobile.net

Corporal Punishment

When my younger brother was in high school, he was suspended for mooning out of a school bus. When I look back on my teen years, I wish I could have been reckless. Exposing my bare bottom out a window wasn’t my idea of a good time, though. I wanted to be the girl in The Beach Boys song who had fun until her father took away the car keys. But because of my limited vision, I never learned to drive. The only time I was ever bad was when I was in the second grade, as you’ll see in the following essay.

CORPORAL PUNISHMENT

In the fall of 1968 after my brother Andy was born, I started second grade at the Arizona State School for the Deaf and Blind in Tucson. My teacher, Miss Willis, an elderly woman, was also visually impaired. Every morning, after we said the Pledge of Allegiance to the Flag and sang “My Country Tis of Thee” or “God Bless America,” she said, “All right, boys and girls, it’s now time for us to take our vitamins.”

We lined up in front of her desk and each received a pill. Unlike the nurses at the infirmary, Miss Willis didn’t place the pills in our mouths and make sure we swallowed them. I concealed mine in my pocket or desk drawer.

One afternoon, I knocked over chairs and threw things, much to the amusement of other classmates and myself. I even tossed a figure of the Christ Child. Miss Willis sent me to the principal’s office, but since it was empty, I sat there for a while until Mother found me.

“Abbie, Miss Willis said you were bad today.” I shrugged.

My parents had recently given me a transistor radio for my birthday. When we got home, I hurried to my room with the intent of listening to it. But Mother followed me and took it away. “You’re not to listen to this for the rest of the day. If you’re good tomorrow, you can have it back.”

Although this saddened me, there were plenty of other things I could do to occupy myself. The next day, I was at it again. “She’s jealous of the new baby,” Miss Willis told Mother. “She’s not getting enough attention.”

This time in addition to the loss of radio privileges, I received a spanking. When it was over, I lay on my bed and sobbed. Why was this happening to me? I was only having fun.

I misbehaved at school several more times. WhenMother learned of my shenanigans, she took me home and spanked me. The last time it happened, it was Dad who found me in the principal’s office, took me home, and spanked me. For some reason, this left an impression on me, and I decided my fun in the classroom wasn’t worth the pain and humiliation of the punishment I received at home.

When Andy was in the third grade, he developed similar behavioral problems. Our parents and his teachers came up with a different plan. For every day at school when he was good, he received a point, and when he had a certain number of points, he got to do something he wanted such as go out to dinner or a movie.

This approach worked for a while, but in the sixth grade, he got into more trouble. In high school, he was suspended for mooning out of a school bus, and he was arrested for being in possession of alcohol. He also had one or two minor brushes with the law when he was in college. He became a physicist with a PH.D. and is married with children who have their own discipline problems.

As an adult, when I hear psychologists on television and radio say that corporal punishment isn’t a good form of discipline, I can’t help wondering how well these experts know their subject matter. Do they have children of their own? How successful have they been at raising them without spanking them?

It pains me to look back on the punishment I received during my second grade year, but I don’t know what else my parents could have done. Dad was working most of the time, and Mother had all she could do to take care of Andy. She couldn’t always be available like she was before he was born.

Miss Willis said I wasn’t getting enough attention. Maybe negative attention is better than no attention at all. In that case, I’m a testimonial to the effectiveness of a few hard swats on the bottom.

Abbie Johnson Taylor, Author of We Shall Overcome

http://www.abbiejohnsontaylor.com

abbie@samobile.net

When my younger brother was in high school, he was suspended for mooning out of a school bus. When I look back on my teen years, I wish I could have been reckless. Exposing my bare bottom out a window wasn’t my idea of a good time, though. I wanted to be the girl in The Beach Boys song who had fun until her father took away the car keys. But because of my limited vision, I never learned to drive. The only time I was ever bad was when I was in the second grade, as you’ll see in the following essay.

CORPORAL PUNISHMENT

In the fall of 1968 after my brother Andy was born, I started second grade at the Arizona State School for the Deaf and Blind in Tucson. My teacher, Miss Willis, an elderly woman, was also visually impaired. Every morning, after we said the Pledge of Allegiance to the Flag and sang “My Country Tis of Thee” or “God Bless America,” she said, “All right, boys and girls, it’s now time for us to take our vitamins.”
We lined up in front of her desk and each received a pill. Unlike the nurses at the infirmary, Miss Willis didn’t place the pills in our mouths and make sure we swallowed them. I concealed mine in my pocket or desk drawer.
One afternoon, I knocked over chairs and threw things, much to the amusement of other classmates and myself. I even tossed a figure of the Christ Child. Miss Willis sent me to the principal’s office, but since it was empty, I sat there for a while until Mother found me.
“Abbie, Miss Willis said you were bad today.” I shrugged.
My parents had recently given me a transistor radio for my birthday. When we got home, I hurried to my room with the intent of listening to it. But Mother followed me and took it away. “You’re not to listen to this for the rest of the day. If you’re good tomorrow, you can have it back.”
Although this saddened me, there were plenty of other things I could do to occupy myself. The next day, I was at it again. “She’s jealous of the new baby,” Miss Willis told Mother. “She’s not getting enough attention.”
This time in addition to the loss of radio privileges, I received a spanking. When it was over, I lay on my bed and sobbed. Why was this happening to me? I was only having fun.
I misbehaved at school several more times. When Mother learned of my shenanigans, she took me home and spanked me. The last time it happened, it was Dad who found me in the principal’s office, took me home, and spanked me. For some reason, this left an impression on me, and I decided my fun in the classroom wasn’t worth the pain and humiliation of the punishment I received at home.
When Andy was in the third grade, he developed similar behavioral problems. Our parents and his teachers came up with a different plan. For every day at school when he was good, he received a point, and when he had a certain number of points, he got to do something he wanted such as go out to dinner or a movie.
This approach worked for a while, but in the sixth grade, he got into more trouble. In high school, he was suspended for mooning out of a school bus, and he was arrested for being in possession of alcohol. He also had one or two minor brushes with the law when he was in college. He became a physicist with a PH.D. and is married with children who have their own discipline problems.
As an adult, when I hear psychologists on television and radio say that corporal punishment isn’t a good form of discipline, I can’t help wondering how well these experts know their subject matter. Do they have children of their own? How successful have they been at raising them without spanking them?
It pains me to look back on the punishment I received during my second grade year, but I don’t know what else my parents could have done. Dad was working most of the time, and Mother had all she could do to take care of Andy. She couldn’t always be available like she was before he was born.
Miss Willis said I wasn’t getting enough attention. Maybe negative attention is better than no attention at all. In that case, I’m a testimonial to the effectiveness of a few hard swats on the bottom.

Abbie Johnson Taylor, Author of We Shall Overcome
http://www.abbiejohnsontaylor.com
abbie@samobile.net

Corporal Punishment

When my younger brother was in high school, he was suspended for mooning out of a school bus. When I look back on my teen years, I wish I could have been reckless. Exposing my bare bottom out a window wasn’t my idea of a good time, though. I wanted to be the girl in The Beach Boys song who had fun until her father took away the car keys. But because of my limited vision, I never learned to drive. The only time I was ever bad was when I was in the second grade, as you’ll see in the following essay.

CORPORAL PUNISHMENT

In the fall of 1968 after my brother Andy was born, I started second grade at the Arizona State School for the Deaf and Blind in Tucson. My teacher, Miss Willis, an elderly woman, was also visually impaired. Every morning, after we said the Pledge of Allegiance to the Flag and sang “My Country Tis of Thee” or “God Bless America,” she said, “All right, boys and girls, it’s now time for us to take our vitamins.”
We lined up in front of her desk and each received a pill. Unlike the nurses at the infirmary, Miss Willis didn’t place the pills in our mouths and make sure we swallowed them. I concealed mine in my pocket or desk drawer.
One afternoon, I knocked over chairs and threw things, much to the amusement of other classmates and myself. I even tossed a figure of the Christ Child. Miss Willis sent me to the principal’s office, but since it was empty, I sat there for a while until Mother found me.
“Abbie, Miss Willis said you were bad today.” I shrugged.
My parents had recently given me a transistor radio for my birthday. When we got home, I hurried to my room with the intent of listening to it. But Mother followed me and took it away. “You’re not to listen to this for the rest of the day. If you’re good tomorrow, you can have it back.”
Although this saddened me, there were plenty of other things I could do to occupy myself. The next day, I was at it again. “She’s jealous of the new baby,” Miss Willis told Mother. “She’s not getting enough attention.”
This time in addition to the loss of radio privileges, I received a spanking. When it was over, I lay on my bed and sobbed. Why was this happening to me? I was only having fun.
I misbehaved at school several more times. When Mother learned of my shenanigans, she took me home and spanked me. The last time it happened, it was Dad who found me in the principal’s office, took me home, and spanked me. For some reason, this left an impression on me, and I decided my fun in the classroom wasn’t worth the pain and humiliation of the punishment I received at home.
When Andy was in the third grade, he developed similar behavioral problems. Our parents and his teachers came up with a different plan. For every day at school when he was good, he received a point, and when he had a certain number of points, he got to do something he wanted such as go out to dinner or a movie.
This approach worked for a while, but in the sixth grade, he got into more trouble. In high school, he was suspended for mooning out of a school bus, and he was arrested for being in possession of alcohol. He also had one or two minor brushes with the law when he was in college. He became a physicist with a PH.D. and is married with children who have their own discipline problems.
As an adult, when I hear psychologists on television and radio say that corporal punishment isn’t a good form of discipline, I can’t help wondering how well these experts know their subject matter. Do they have children of their own? How successful have they been at raising them without spanking them?
It pains me to look back on the punishment I received during my second grade year, but I don’t know what else my parents could have done. Dad was working most of the time, and Mother had all she could do to take care of Andy. She couldn’t always be available like she was before he was born.
Miss Willis said I wasn’t getting enough attention. Maybe negative attention is better than no attention at all. In that case, I’m a testimonial to the effectiveness of a few hard swats on the bottom.

Abbie Johnson Taylor, Author of We Shall Overcome
http://www.abbiejohnsontaylor.com
abbie@samobile.net

Hair

            When I was a little girl, Dad often took me to the barber shop. I sat in a nearby chair and watched with my limited vision, as the barber draped a sheet over Dad and clipped his hair with an electric razor that buzzed and often made snapping noises. It had to hurt, but Dad didn’t complain. I was grateful I didn’t have to endure this since I wasn’t a man.
            At the age of four, my luck changed. Mother decided it was time for me to go to the beauty shop. “We’re going to give you a pixie,” said the nice lady, as she sat me in the chair and draped a sheet over me, tying it behind my head. I inhaled the acrid scent of hair enhancing chemicals, and a knot of dread formed in my stomach, as she turned the chair to face the mirror. When she sprayed my hair with water, the quacking sound the bottle made and the cold water that assailed my scalp was my undoing. My stomach heaved, and in minutes, I was covered with vomit. I sat mortified, as Mother cleaned me up, and the beautician put a clean drape over me. The rest of the experience was uneventful.
            When I was in the first grade at the Arizona State School for the Deaf and Blind in Tucson, I was the only girl in a class of boys. One of them, whom I’ll call Isaac, sat behind me and delighted in pulling my hair. “Quit it,” I said, batting his hand away, but to no avail. My teacher, Mrs. Hamilton, either didn’t know or didn’t care.
            “He’s doing it because he likes you,” said Dad.
            “Just ignore him, and he’ll stop,” said Mother. But I couldn’t ignore the pain that ripped my scalp, as the little  monster’s fingers grasped wisps of my hair and tugged.
            One day, Mrs. Moore, one of the nurses at the infirmary, came to our classroom. “Abbie, you need to go with Mrs. Moore to the infirmary,” said Mrs. Hamilton. “Your hair is falling out.”
            It was then that I noticed the tendrils of hair that were cascading from my head and landing on my shirt. Fascinated, I rose and took the nurse’s hand, as we walked out of the classroom.
            “Mrs. Johnson, you’re not washing your daughter’s hair. It’s falling out,” Mrs. Moore told Mother on the phone. “You’ll have to come and take her to a doctor.”
            Aggrieved, Mother collected me and took me to a dermatologist the nurse recommended. Again, my stomach tightened, as my nostrils were assailed by the odor of alcohol and disinfectant, but I managed to keep my lunch down. After the doctor examined my head, he asked, “By any chance, is someone pulling your hair?”
            “Yes,” I said, hopeful that someone would finally do something about it. “Isaac pulls my hair all the time. He sits right behind me in school.”
            “That’s why her hair is falling out,” the doctor told  Mother.
            Later, Mother and I marched into the classroom. “I wasted a lot of time and money on a dermatologist to find out that the reason Abbie’s hair is falling out is because Isaac is pulling it,” said Mother. She pointed an accusing finger at the boy, who sat unmoving in his seat directly behind my desk.
            “Isaac, don’t pull Abbie’s hair,” said Mrs. Hamilton, and that was that.
            After the fiasco at the beauty shop, Mother cut my hair at home, but she was never satisfied with her work. I didn’t care. I was relieved when she was done, although after the incident with Isaac, I preferred Mother’s scissors to his sharp tugs. 
As I grew older, Mother let my hair grow longer and braided it into two pigtails at the back of my neck. In the summer heat of Arizona, I imagined myself cutting off the pigtails, but I knew better since an attempt at cutting my own hair brought similar results to that of Isaac’s hand barbering and a sharp rebuke from Mother. Occasionally, boys tugged at the braids, but not nearly as hard as Isaac did.
            When I was about twelve or thirteen, Mother and I finally worked up the courage to make another trip to the beauty shop. We’d moved to Sheridan, Wyoming, by this time, and we went to a place Grandma recommended. I remembered the scent of the chemicals from the previous experience, but this time, I knew what to expect. I just hoped I wouldn’t lose my lunch. To my embarrassment, Mother said to Barbara, the beautician, “My daughter’s visually handicapped so you’ll have to tell her what you’re going to do before you do it.”
But Barbara was nice. She sat me in the chair, covered me with a drape, and turned the chair to face the mirror. “I’m going to spray your hair with water now.”
This time, the sound of the spray bottle and cool water against my head didn’t bother me. While cutting my hair, she was gentle and careful. When she accidentally brushed a mole on the left side of my scalp, she said, “Ooh, does that hurt?”
“No,” I answered truthfully. 
The haircut was a pleasant experience, and I realized that going to a beauty shop wasn’t so bad after all. From that point on, I never let my hair grow long enough for pigtails. Mother was relieved not to have to braid it every morning.
Pigtails, permanents, and other hairstyles are great for people who can see well enough to make them look good. I prefer short, straight hair that I can manage easily. As I’ve heard said in shampoo commercials, “I want to wash my hair and go.”
           
Abbie Johnson Taylor, Author of We Shall Overcome  http://www.abbiejohnsontaylor.com  abbie@samobile.net
the barber shop. I sat in a nearby chair and watched with my limited vision, as the barber draped a sheet over Dad and clipped his hair with an electric razor that buzzed and often made snapping noises. It had to hurt, but Dad didn’t complain. I was grateful I didn’t have to endure this since I wasn’t a man.
            At the age of four, my luck changed. Mother decided it was time for me to go to the beauty shop. “We’re going to give you a pixie,” said the nice lady, as she sat me in the chair and draped a sheet over me, tying it behind my head. I inhaled the acrid scent of hair enhancing chemicals, and a knot of dread formed in my stomach, as she turned the chair to face the mirror. When she sprayed my hair with water, the quacking sound the bottle made and the cold water that assailed my scalp was my undoing. My stomach heaved, and in minutes, I was covered with vomit. I sat mortified, as Mother cleaned me up, and the beautician put a clean drape over me. The rest of the experience was uneventful.
            When I was in the first grade at the Arizona State School for the Deaf and Blind in Tucson, I was the only girl in a class of boys. One of them, whom I’ll call Isaac, sat behind me and  delighted in pulling my hair. “Quit it,” I said, batting his hand away, but to no avail. My teacher, Mrs. Hamilton, either didn’t know or didn’t care.
            “He’s doing it because he likes you,” said Dad.
            “Just ignore him, and he’ll stop,” said Mother. But I couldn’t ignore the pain that ripped my scalp, as the little  monster’s fingers grasped wisps of my hair and tugged.
            One day, Mrs. Moore, one of the nurses at the infirmary, came to our classroom. “Abbie, you need to go with Mrs. Moore to the infirmary,” said Mrs. Hamilton. “Your hair is falling out.”
            It was then that I noticed the tendrils of hair that were cascading from my head and landing on my shirt. Fascinated, I rose and took the nurse’s hand, as we walked out of the classroom.
            “Mrs. Johnson, you’re not washing your daughter’s hair. It’s falling out,” Mrs. Moore told Mother on the phone. “You’ll have to come and take her to a doctor.”
            Aggrieved, Mother collected me and took me to a dermatologist the nurse recommended. Again, my stomach tightened, as my nostrils were assailed by the odor of alcohol and disinfectant, but I managed to keep my lunch down. After the doctor examined my head, he asked, “By any chance, is someone pulling your hair?”
            “Yes,” I said, hopeful that someone would finally do something about it. “Isaac pulls my hair all the time. He sits right behind me in school.”
            “That’s why her hair is falling out,” the doctor told  Mother.
            Later, Mother and I marched into the classroom. “I wasted a lot of time and money on a dermatologist to find out that the reason Abbie’s hair is falling out is because Isaac is pulling it,” said Mother. She pointed an accusing finger at the boy, who sat unmoving in his seat directly behind my desk.
            “Isaac, don’t pull Abbie’s hair,” said Mrs. Hamilton, and that was that.
            After the fiasco at the beauty shop, Mother cut my hair at home, but she was never satisfied with her work. I didn’t care. I was relieved when she was done, although after the incident with Isaac, I preferred Mother’s scissors to his sharp tugs. 
As I grew older, Mother let my hair grow longer and braided it into two pigtails at the back of my neck. In the summer heat of Arizona, I imagined myself cutting off the pigtails, but I knew better since an attempt at cutting my own hair brought similar results to that of Isaac’s hand barbering and a sharp rebuke from Mother. Occasionally, boys tugged at the braids, but not nearly as hard as Isaac did.
            When I was about twelve or thirteen, Mother and I finally worked up the courage to make another trip to the beauty shop. We’d moved to Sheridan, Wyoming, by this time, and we went to a place Grandma recommended. I remembered the scent of the chemicals from the previous experience, but this time, I knew what to expect. I just hoped I wouldn’t lose my lunch. To my embarrassment, Mother said to Barbara, the beautician, “My daughter’s visually handicapped so you’ll have to tell her what you’re going to do before you do it.”
But Barbara was nice. She sat me in the chair, covered me with a drape, and turned the chair to face the mirror. “I’m going to spray your hair with water now.”
This time, the sound of the spray bottle and cool water against my head didn’t bother me. While cutting my hair, she was gentle and careful. When she accidentally brushed a mole on the left side of my scalp, she said, “Ooh, does that hurt?”
“No,” I answered truthfully. 
The haircut was a pleasant experience, and I realized that going to a beauty shop wasn’t so bad after all. From that point on, I never let my hair grow long enough for pigtails. Mother was relieved not to have to braid it every morning.
Pigtails, permanents, and other hairstyles are great for people who can see well enough to make them look good. I prefer short, straight hair that I can manage easily. As I’ve heard said in shampoo commercials, “I want to wash my hair and go.”
           
Abbie Johnson Taylor, Author of We Shall Overcome  http://www.abbiejohnsontaylor.com  abbie@samobile.net