Editor’s Note: What’s the best way to untangle a hair knot? Here’s an amusing guest blog post from NYC Dads Group member, David Lesser, as he takes us with him on a journey as he solves the dilemma of untangling an enormous knot in his daughter’s hair.
“This is going to sound kind of weird, but you should try peanut butter.”
Ah-OK. Yes, I’ve tried peanut butter. No, this wasn’t for some interesting noodle recipe. Or even a suggestion for a tasty way to top a hamburger (which I’ve never tried, but have heard is oddly delicious). This was the advice I received as a way to get that stubborn, painful, pain-in-the-ass tangle out of my daughter’s hair.
My wife was not as surprised as I was about this helpful hint. “Sure,” she said, “that’s how you get gum out of your hair, but I’ve never heard about it for tangles, though.” But this thing had gotten out of control. I figured worst case scenario: It turns into a giant mess, my daughter, Penny screams a lot, but we all do it together as a family and laugh about it later (probably later that night, once the kids are in bed).
Hair knot meet peanut butter
So we gave it a go. Even though we were instructed to put the PB on dry hair, we put her in the tub with some water doing our best to keep her hair dry. We were looking ahead to cleanup. (I guess we could have put her in crappy clothes and a smock. But we decided against it. We did it this way. What do we know from peanut buttering our kid’s head?) My wife, Allie, put the PB in. I would have used more; but, to each his own.
Then, Allie “let” me take over with the actual detangling process. I guess I’d have to say the PB trick worked well on her hair knot, but not like gangbusters. It was sticky, tedious work. I didn’t bother with a comb or brush, just using my fingers to unknot and untangle the rat’s nest clump of hair. Since Penny was in the tub and I was not, she kept moving away from my already awkward position. So the whole thing was KILLING my back. And she was, as predicted, screaming. I got the toughest of the knots out and decided Penny had had enough; I’d had enough; it was time to move on.
The next phase of this hair knot project involved an absolute “shitload” of conditioner. (“Shitload” is a technical term found in the fine print of the hair conditioner bottle, in the section titled “Only in Emergencies.”) Her hair fully conditioned, I used a comb that had a lot of space between the teeth. I started combing from the bottom and worked my way up, as Allie instructed me to do. There was still a good deal of squirming and whining, but not much screaming anymore. I continued to use my fingers to get out the trickiest tangles and we made progress. Distracting Penny with a TV show and a lollipop helped too. Taking it to the next level, she even let me move on to a different comb with smaller teeth.
One hour later — hair knot gone
Holy crap, it was done! And “only” an hour or so after we spread peanut butter on my daughter’s head. There was not a tangle to be seen. What a relief! My wife, near tears of joy, planted a big kiss on me. “I thought we were going to have to cut it off!” she exclaimed with a sigh. I took the praise and the kiss happily. But we agreed that the girl needed a haircut and we had to comb her hair EVERY day, probably twice a day. Even Penny agreed.
We got her haircut. We got a special brush called the “Knot Genie.” (Good stuff, that hair Knot Genie.) She’s even brushing her own hair now, with either Allie or I getting the missed spots. It’s become as regular and necessary a part of the morning ritual as brushing her teeth.
I know that it shouldn’t have taken this hair knot crisis situation to make hair brushing a regular habit, but what can I say? That’s what it took. This is a terrible excuse, but frankly, my daughter Penny was just such a pain in the ass about it! I’d try to brush her hair, she’d scream. I’d insist, but I knew I was hurting her and, ugh, the whole process just sucked. So I’d skip a day or two. Or a week. Whatever. Eventually, her hair would get so bad that it was beyond ignoring, and I’d struggle through it. And it would be horrible, but I’d get the worst of the knots out. Then, we’d repeat the process. But after this whole sticky, messy, painful for everyone process of detangling, I vow to comb my kid’s hair daily and never let this happen again.
A version of this blog entry is also cross-posted on Amateur Idiot/Professional Dad.