You know how we all have those random childhood memories where our parents let us down in some miniscule way, but for some reason we still remember it clearly 25 years later?

I’m sure I’ve already given my kids libraries full of these, and their childhoods are only 1/2 and 1/3 complete.

Obviously I hardly have ANY of these AT ALL because my parents were nearly perfect in every way and they also loyally read this blog. But let’s assume for a second that my IDYLLIC childhood was a bit more normal – like yours, for example.

Foam rollers were a on-and-off part of said childhood. I loved turning my board-straight hair into beautiful wavy locks, even if it only lasted approximately 25 seconds after the rollers came out. I wanted the curly hair to last, but no matter how hard I willed those curls to stay boingy, they never listened.

I remember this one little girl I knew. I was about Ali’s age and I admired her curly high ponytail every time I saw her. Her hair was always gathered in a perfect knot of extremely curly curls – curls I was pretty sure were not natural, but clearly bounced eternally longer than mine. She always had a glow about her that I was sure was brought on by her fantastic hair.

I wanted to experience this perfection of a look. Maybe there was magic in putting one’s curls into a high ponytail. Or maybe she was just magical.

I needed to find out.

So I asked my mom if she would curl my hair. I didn’t tell her my final styling plans for fear that she’d think I was silly – one must be careful not to provide too much information to one’s parents on the front end of a request.

She lovingly curled my hair, taking forever as it did to have any chance of the curls sticking around. Then, when we took the rollers out the next morning, I popped the question.

“Now can you please put my hair up into a high ponytail?”

She looked at me as if I had just requested to eat cat vomit for breakfast and said something along the lines of “After all that work YOU WANT IT IN A PONYTAIL?? Uh, no.”

And she stuck to her ruling. There would be no high ponytail curl perfection for me.

I was saddened but accepted the fact, (perhaps begrudgingly since I still remember it,) that my request was inconceivably wasteful of my mother’s curling efforts. And I moved on with life, never achieving that mystic curly high ponytail.

Now I have a daughter who occasionally loves a good curling. Her hair is longer than mine was and a good deal thicker, so the process is arduous and can tend to give me back and shoulder aches that require the consumption of large amounts of chocolate after her bedtime.

But fortunately for her, her hair holds the curl much better than mine ever did. We’ll foam curl her hair when it’s wet and watch over the next three days as the curls get longer and longer.

(Yeah we still keep our two baths a week schedule. What of it?)

Not long ago, she asked me for curls. Really tight curls – use the little rollers, mom.

As I was patiently selecting tiny strand after tiny strand and wrapping it around miniscule roller after miniscule roller, she informed me of her styling plans.

“When we take the rollers out tomorrow morning, can we put it in a high ponytail?”

My aching fingers stopped.

My gut reaction was the exact same as my mom’s had been.


After all this work.

You want it in a ponytail.

Nope, nope, nope.

But I stopped myself.

Then I started up again.

Nope, nope, nope!!

Then I internally sent myself to therapy.

I knew I had to end the cycle. The cycle of Childhood Curly High Ponytail Negligence. No matter how much my spasming shoulders protested.

And so, the next morning, after I carefully unwrapped each tiny tendril from each tinier roller, I gathered up all of those perfect curls and created the most amazing, most curliest, most magical high ponytail that ever existed.

Curly High Ponytail

As the day wore on, the curls kept getting longer,


and her smile kept getting wider.

IMG_0304 3

And that was when I knew. That even though my kid is bound to have a Britannica-Sized collection of Childhood Grievances with me, the refusal to create curly high ponytails will not be among them.

Editor’s Note: I asked my mother’s permission to write about my deep-seated ponytail issues. As expected, she has absolutely no recollection of this traumatic incident.

10 thoughts on “High Ponytails and Parental Grievances.

    1. This is what I was going to say-put her hair in a ponytail then roll it. My sister was a cheerleader and that’s how they had to do their hair for every competition. It’s much faster and produces almost the same curls. Btw, Ali’s hair looks beautiful!

  1. I wanted Candace Cameron-style long wavy curls. I talked my mom into a perm when I was roughly 10. It was not a good look for me.

    Sadly, I acquired several more perms before I learned my lesson. My 7th grade picture is poodly perfection. I always had an image in my head and the reality never matched.

    (What’s funny is that now, 23 years later, I’ve finally figured out how to make my hair beachy-wavy instead of poodly-curly.)

  2. This morning as part of my daughter’s Annabeth (Percy Jackson) costume I straightened her hair. It took forever, her thicker bouncy curls and tight curls underneath need about 3 passes of the straightener. She admired her straight hair and said “we should really do this more often”. Hmmmm, no. Let me share that she hates high pony tails. When you have a lot of curls, getting into that high pony means sometimes separating knots and ringlets and a lot of work. At least it does with my 9 year old. She has been known to scream and accuse me of awful things during the process. Sadly for her, the curls will likely be back in the morning!!

  3. It’s so funny how we all want opposite of what we have-hair. And wow. Ali’s high ponytail IS magical! Gorgeous.

  4. Ali’s ponytail turned out gorgeous! What’s funny is when I sponge roll my daughter’s hair it just about always ends up in a ponytail because that is the only way to keep it from looking like a fro.

  5. My daughter has thinner hair than a 90yr old and more brittle than peanut brittle. I hope, since I have really thick hair, that hers will strengthen and thicken, and if it does… I’m sure my sister will be happy to curl it for her.

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