Resident bluesman Todd Mauldin explains why this ritual with his son is one he enjoys. And it all started with an experiment with poofy hair.
My son is eight years old. Most evenings, after his shower (assuming his mother and I can get him to take one) and before his bedtime, I blow-dry his hair. Me—not his mom, not his sister, not himself—me.
Here’s the deal. My son is a goof, and very creative. When he was six, apropos of nothing, he announced to his mother and me after a bath that he wondered what he’d look like with “poofy” hair. So, I got the blow-drier and starting blasting his hair back, spiking it up all over. My son is blessed with hair as thick as a beaver pelt, which is a source of both relief and jealousy for his bald father. When I was done, he looked like he’d stuck his finger in a light socket. He loved it.
He wore it to school, to his first-grade class, the next day. He goes to a liberal, hippy-style charter school, so there was no rule against having hair that looked like he’d been electrocuted. It was a big hit. He started requesting it every day, to have his “poofy” hair done after bath time. And since I’d done it the first time, only I was qualified to do it, in his view.
Over the next two years, his blow-dry spiked-up mane became a part of his character, his persona. When he started playing soccer, and the other guys were wearing faux-hawks, my son still stood out because of his spikey, flowing, flopping, and awesome hairstyle. We adjusted the name of the style, however, toward the end of second grade…we’d just made the playoffs in indoor soccer and he’d become our permanent goalkeeper, and “poofy hair” just didn’t sound right anymore. We dubbed it “warrior hair”
So Warrior Hair it was, and Warrior Hair it is. And here’s why I do it. I do it because it looks cool, and because he likes it, and this look is part of the person he’s growing into, iconoclastic, expressive, brave and free. However, the real reason for me is, it’s an excuse for me to touch my son tenderly, almost every day. See, he was not a bottle baby—he was what we call around here a “boobie baby,” so I didn’t get to hold him as much as I wanted when he was little. I didn’t get to feed him. But I did get to hold him on my chest while we listened to music, and pat his back gently and put him to sleep.
I can’t even begin to describe how much I miss holding him and patting him to sleep. I miss those tender moments of just me and him, being together, physically touching. But we have this now, and I get to run my fingers through his hair, and spin him around, and blast him with hot air from a blow-drier, and help him look like he wants to look, and it’s a real thing for me.