While waiting for my niece outside a movie theater, my sister entertained herself and her 11-year-old son by walking up and down the aisles of the only store still open in that strip mall late on a Sunday evening. They had already purchased “Wonder Woman” on DVD, and the electronics store was closing.
“Mom! They have bath salt bombs,” My nephew exclaimed, and immediately started begging for the bomb.
The white, baseball-sized salt ball glistened with pink glitter and pressed green leaves.
“I just bought you ‘Wonder Woman,’” she said.
“But this is for the bath and you always say not bathing is not an option,” he argued.
Always delighted to promote solid reasoning and good hygiene, my sister immediately caved, under the condition that he not use it that night as it was already getting late.
The next night, my nephew barely contained his excitement and requested to bathe in the master bathroom tub to maximize the depth of the bomb’s effect. He climbed into the big tub, leaving the door to the bathroom open. My sister and brother-in-law heard him talking to himself and relishing every effervescent moment as they finished up some work on their laptops in bed. (Yes, they bring their work home sometimes. Don’t judge.)
Half-an-hour into the fizz extravaganza, my sister went in to remind him to use soap and shampoo before getting out. When he walked out of the bathroom wrapped in a huge towel, he announced that the shampoo he used – the one in the blue bottle with the pink pump – smelled funny.
My sister is remarkably cool, calm, and collected by nature, which made her training as a high-risk obstetrician a perfect fit for her personality. However, it’s not every day that your kid shampoos with Nair. Panic-stricken, she sprung into action.
If Wonder Woman wants to learn how to fly for her next movie, she should take lessons from my sister, who doesn’t remember her feet touching the ground as she leaped off her bed into the bathroom. She admits to screaming “Oh shit!” and bounding into the shower stall with her clothes on. She scrubbed my nephew’s head with one hand while maneuvering the hand-held nozzle with the other. When she asked him why he didn’t use the regular shampoo, he calmly explained that the bottle said “hair remover,” which he interpreted to mean having the ability to remove extra dirt from hair.
That night, my brother-in-law told my nephew not to worry if a few hairs shed on his pillow and, when they tucked him in, he was wearing his Yoda beanie to “help make the hairs stay in place.” Clearly he was still fuzzy on the process of hair growth and removal.
My sister was a bit traumatized when she cleaned the fizzy residue from the tub and noticed one-inch hairs stuck to the rim, but my nephew’s hair was intact. The hair removal chemicals did not stay on his head long enough to cause bald patches, burning, or any real damage. His hair thinned a bit, but hair grows and lessons are learned. In fact, she and my brother-in-law managed to help my nephew rally to such an extent that he couldn’t wait to go to school to share his war story. He and his friends began composing the sound track to the movie during recess:
Nair, Nair, it’s good for your hair.
The more you use, the more they stare.
If you use too much, you’ll be bald as a pear.
When I heard the story, and after I recovered from my own “what-ifs?” and “holy shits!”, I couldn’t help but marvel at the support and humor my nephew found among his friends. May their bond be as thick as his hair will grow. May we, as adults, take notice and support each other with humor because, sometimes, all you can do is laugh.
Laughter is a great healer, although sometimes it’s not enough. Hair is just hair, and it grows, right? Not always. My sister, tremendously grateful that nothing worse had happened, passed a blessing onto those whose hair is not “just hair.” She donated her long ponytail to charity. Then she exhaled.