One of the things my three-year-old just does not want to do these days (along with wear socks or sometimes pants) is to brush her hair. Almost never can I brush her hair without some kind of fuss and the times that I can usually are made possible by some lovely distraction. It’s not just her, either — my six-year-old often hates it, too — though she understands more that it’s pretty much a necessity of life. I do vaguely remember at least one instance very vividly of being very stressed out by a particularly epic hair de-tangling session as a child, so I suppose they come by it naturally. We each have LOTS of VERY FINE hair which is apparently a recipe for chaos and knots.
I often think that so much of growing up is just learning to tolerate life’s discomforts. We have come up with elaborate procedures needed to take medicine that tastes bad (honey spoon + medicine + immediately followed by another honey spoon, if you’re interested); we have offered lollipops for hair detangling sessions, abandoned entire packs of underwear or socks that were bothersome for some inarticulable reason, and all of this is usually after trying to reason until we’re blue in the face.
On the one hand, as a parent, it can be pretty frustrating to help our children navigate these things: hair must be brushed, medicine must be taken, underwear must be worn. These things are not negotiable. On the other hand, that’s just where they are in life. They don’t want to have anything to do with things that are at all painful, yucky, unpleasant, or uncomfortable. And honestly? Join the club, kiddos, I get it. Granted, I no longer complain about minor pains or the flavor of medicine, but goodness knows it is hard for me to tolerate discomfort. Like surfing the wave of a toddler melting down over socks, for example: I’d rather not. Or like being put in situations where the future is volatile and having to wait for direction…it’s not pleasant.
In those times, when I start to panic or visit that sliding scale of vague to spiking anxiety and I find myself demanding that the painful, yucky, unpleasant and uncomfortable to just STOP, I am really thankful for a Heavenly Parent who can relate. He is no stranger to suffering, He knows I’m just dust. I don’t think He rolls His eyes at my pettiness and wishes I would just grow up, spiritually.
He is infinitely patient. He’s usually got a honey spoon or two waiting for me somewhere in the process if I look to Him for relief. He doesn’t promise there won’t be some tugging or pulling and a few hairs might break as He gently but skillfully works out the knots, but since He knows the number of hairs on my head on any given day, I can trust Him when He assures that I’ll be alright. And at the end?
“Good job, sweetheart. We did it! Doesn’t that feel better?”