“My New Hairdresser,” July 2, 2019

Let me introduce you to my new hairdresser, Eleanor Rose.

I call her “El.”   She calls me “Nana.”

El is new to the hairdressing profession, but what she lacks in experience, she makes up for with style and flair and a major, take-charge personality.

“Turn your head this way,” she orders. So I turn to the right.

“No!” she shouts, snapping my chin to the left. “This way!”

It’s her way or the highway. I just say, “Yes, ma’am” and do as I’m told.

El is my granddaughter. She is 4 years old, going on “ready to rule the world.” Hazel green eyes. Honey brown hair. A smile that lights me up like Christmas.

I wish you could see her.

We’re taking turns doing each other’s hair. I took the first turn. While El was entranced in a “My Little Pony” video, I brushed the tangles from her waist-length curls, taking care not to yank on the snarls. Then I pulled it back from her face, gathered it up in a ponytail and fastened it with a pink elastic band. Perfection.

When the video ended, El snapped back to attention. 

“My turn!” she said, snatching the hairbrush from my hand.   She climbed up on the sofa and stood by my shoulder, studying the top of my head.

“Nana,” she said, wrinkling her nose, “your hair is hard!”

“It’s just hairspray,” I said. “It keeps my bangs out of my eyes.”

“But, Nana,” she said, looking as if she’d just discovered I had a really bad case of head lice, “it makes your hair hard!”

Wielding the hair brush like a machete, she brushed away the hairspray, leaving a few wisps of what had once been my bangs. 

“That’s better,” she said. “Now you need a haircut.”

I gave her a look.

“El?” I said. “No scissors, OK? We’re just pretending, right?”

“Right,” she said. “I’ll use these.” She held up two fingers, snapping them together, her own personal pair of pretend hair cutting shears.   Then she pretended to lop off every last inch of my not-pretend shoulder-length hair.

It felt surprisingly good. At some point, I began to nod off while El kept whacking away. Half asleep, I drifted back to a place and time when I was El’s age, playing hairdresser to my grandmother and my mother and any of my aunts who showed up for Sunday dinner.

They’d sit on the porch in summer or by the stove in winter, gossiping and arguing about everything and nothing, while I worked my magic from chair to chair with a hairbrush and high hopes of transforming them all into beauty queens.

My mother and my aunts were picky. No matter how great a job I did, they always had to redo it.

Not my grandmother. I could make her look like a cat that had just been flea-dipped and she’d smile and give me a dime.

Not everyone found her easy to please. But I did. And it made me want to give her my best.

My reverie ended with a whack on my head from a hairbrush.

“Sit up, Nana,” El said. “I want to curl the back of your hair.”

“You’re curling my hair?”

“Yes!” she said, “and you’re going to love it!” 

Her curling technique involved twisting clumps of my hair into coils and tying them in knots. It was not exactly the kind of look I was hoping for, but I decided to let her finish. 

After a few more twists and coils and knots, she grabbed my hand and dragged me to the bathroom mirror.

“Do you like it?” El asked.

I stood for a moment, staring at the mirror. I looked like a cat that had just been flea-dipped. 

“Yes,” I said, “I, uh, love it.”

She laughed and took my hand. “No, Nana, you look crazy! Come on, I’ll fix it.”

So she uncoiled the knots and brushed out the twists and kissed the top of my head.

She gave me her best.

And I gave her a dollar. 

Maybe next time, I’ll let her dye my roots.


  1. Shirley Isin says

    Dear Sharon, I love reading your weekly stories that come out each Sunday through the Salina Journal, Salina, Kansas. The one about the NEW HAIRDRESSER that was published this morning had me in stitches! I had to read it three times that brought laughter resulting in tears running down my cheeks every time that I read it. It was one of my favorites! Keep up the good work and I will be looking forward to your story in next Sunday’s paper!
    Shirley Isin
    Salina, Kansas

  2. Oh, I got so excited to read this! I have my first granddaughter coming this August and I’m ready for every minute of adventure and experimental make-overs! So happy you get to enjoy this!

  3. Kate Sciacca says

    Wait now just a doggone minute!!!! This story makes no sense at all… I recall quite well when little miss Eleanor Rose was born!!! It was maybe six months ago…. perhaps a year. But there ain’t no way on God’s green earth that the little princess is four years old. No ma’am. No way.

    Whoever it was that did your hair… I’m sure she was awesome…. but dang….

    • Thanks, Kate. Believe me, I understand the confusion. Our grandchildren have been arriving with such frequency and regularity that it’s hard enough for us to keep them straight, let alone some kind soul like you, who tries to follow, but is not connected in any way, other than in spirit and in print. As of today, we have eight grandbabes, 5 boys, three girls: Randy is 8; Charlotte and Henry are 7, not twins, but born a day apart; Wiley is 6; Eleanor is 4, Archer is 2; Beatrix is 4 months; and Jonah Joshua is 3 months. I’m exhausted just naming them. And you’re right, they grow up so fast it seems like they were born just yesterday. One day, they’re newborn, and the next, they’re whacking you on the head with a hairbrush. OK, it’s your turn. Names and ages of your brood, please?

      • Kate Sciacca says

        Ok…. I’ll try my best 😃. An even dozen… six boys, six princesses…

        Ryan Joseph, is 17. Jack and Vince are both 10, two different sets of parents. Max is 7. Charlie and Caleb are four, two different sets of parents.
        Rachel Elizabeth and Rose Marie are 8 – different parents. Abigail Anne is six. Annalise Genevieve is 5, Clara Louise is 18 mos and Charlotte Jane is 4 mos… hope that adds up to twelve!

        Four of mine are married, number 6 gets married on August 2 and numbers 5, 7 and 8 are single… yep… sometimes they answer to their number 😃👍🏻

  4. Linda Elliott says

    This brought back some great memories….
    I loved “fixing” my grandmother’s hair, which involved “rolling” it into pincurls & fastening with bobbie pins. Fast forward more than 60 years & I have two granddaughters who also love to do hair & makeup. One day during a wild & crazy makeup session with them, I was getting ready to remove the makeup, in preparation for going to visit my mom, 98, at her nursing home. The oldest granddaughter screamed & quickly told me that I must change nothing! She was convinced I was a work of great artistry. So against my better judgment, off the three of us go….the normally little if any makeup & hair in ponytail/ballcap grandmother, now looking like a clown/harlot with bright red lips, glittered turquoise shadowed eyes & hair in a “do.” As we arrived at the entrance, Savannah said, “You look beautiful.” I knew I had made the right decision❤️. Still not sure if younger sister, Harper, disagreed or was embarrassed, but their great grandmother liked it & got a manicure from them😊. I did a little explaining to staff members who looked perplexed to say the least😣. On the verge of tears when the girls left a couple of days later to return to their home, 700 miles away, I could still smile when I thought of the fun we had. Thanks for reminding me again, Sharon.

  5. Beth Heeren says

    I need me some grandchildren!

  6. Sally Merrill says

    My 4 year old granddaughter, Avery, is very much like your Eleanor Rose! She has a wonderful way of telling me things to do in a very “matter of fact” tone of voice! I’m also Nana and she likes to fuss at me about my “stiff” hair too, also like you, hairspray to keep my bangs out of my eyes! I do so love our time together!

  7. I use to do that too and it came true, I became a hairdresser and worked at it for 47 years. For 40 years my shop was attached to my house, I didn’t have to employ a sitter and if the two kids were sick I could still work and check on them. One time the youngest, age 10 decided to run away, left me a note, I did not know this until the phone call she wanted to be picked up because her friend who lived three miles away wasn’t home. I was very unhappy about this because she walked down a busy highway to get there. That was her last time to do that. I love doing hair and the friends my clients became.

  8. Wonderful times!!!! I did this when I was young and my daughter and two granddaughters have made into a beauty queen so many times. Love the time spent together and the stories they tell while styling hair. and then we usually had a tea party when I was beautifully styled.

    Thanks for the memories….

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