Esmeralda always had trouble with her hair. When she was two, her mother cut her hair for the first time. It was so short her ears froze when she went outside. It was so short it stuck straight up on her head. It was so short people sometimes thought she was a boy. Her mother tried to put bows in her hair with gel which looked very silly. One day she walked up to her mother, put her hands on her hips and announced, “No more haircuts, never, never never”!
Her hair grew. Soon it covered her ears.
A few weeks later Esmeralda was able to put bows in her hair without looking silly.
It reached her shoulders. Esmeralda put barrettes in her hair, but they got lost, and she never removed them. Her mother said, “You have to brush your hair and keep it neat if you want it long.” Esmeralda just nodded and went back to playing.
As it grew, she liked to put her hair on top of her head, so Esmerelda pinned it up with chopsticks but never bothered to take them out. They drooped and clacked as she moved.
Her hair grew so long her mother tried to braid it, but tangles got in the way. Esmeralda never combed it, and it fell down her back in snarls and tangles. Esmeralda’s teacher, Mrs. Cleanwick, spoke to the class about the importance of brushing their hair, pointing at the messy heap on top of Esmeralda’s head.
It grew so long it reached her waist. Esmeralda liked to separate it in two and tie it into a bow at her neck. One day Esmeralda and her friend had a fight. They were so angry that they grabbed burdocks growing nearby and smashed them into each other’s hair. Her friend took the burdocks out, Esmeralda didn’t. Esmeralda’s mother just shook her head when she saw her. The burdocks scratched her cheeks as she slept.
Soon she could sit on her hair. She tried to brush her hair one day but the brush got stuck in the tangles, and she left just it there.
One night when she was sleeping, Teensy the mouse saw her hair dusting the floor and skittered up. He made a home and each night brought back treasures he found during the day, jittering about his adventures in her ear as she dreamed.
When she was swinging at the playground, Esmeralda’s hair swept the ground, leaving the earth neat and her hair littered with twigs and clumps of dirt.
Her hair grew down to her knees. One day Mama Bird flew by and decided her hair would be an excellent place to build a nest. Pretty soon three chicks hatched.
Esmeralda sometimes liked having the birds but Mama Bird was always squawking, the chicks were always chirping and the worms Mama Bird brought back to her chicks that sometimes fell in her hair and squiggled down her neck. Paying attention to school with all the noise was hard.
Jasper a little, brown chipmunk looking down from a tree thought her hair would make a wonderfully soft home to come to each day, jumped down and burrowed deep with his paws.
Esmeralda’s hair grew down on her toes. She kept tripping as she walked. Mama Bird squawked angrily at her because she scared the chicks. Jasper, the chipmunk, jittered at her to be careful.
One day her cat, Nubs, noticed the mouse, birds, and squirrel jumped on top of Esmeralda’s hair and stared at the smaller creatures. It was a difficult load to carry.
The next door neighbor’s dog, Buster, saw Nubs in her hair and started jumping against Esmeralda. She had to run inside to hide.
Esmeralda went to school the next day to find her teacher, Mrs. Cleanwick had called Officer Brown from the Animal Control department. Officer Brown gave a talk about the importance of not bringing animals to school unless the teacher was asked first.
The animals were making so much noise that Esmeralda had to sit in the school hall because the other kids in the class were so distracted.
When she and her friends climbed up a pine tree, Esmeralda’s hair got trapped in the branches leaving her hanging stuck in the air. Sap from the tree clung to her hair. Little pine needles were everywhere, tickling and itching her. She looked and felt like a fly trapped in a spider’s web. It took a whole day and two of her best friend’s help to get her free.
In fits of frustration the animals skittered and chittered and slid down the tree, running off to find new homes.
That was it! She ran home to her mother and cried “Cut my hair. PLEASE!!!” Her mother started cutting . . . Out came a branch from a tree, twigs from the playground, the mouse’s treasures, the bird’s nest, the squirrels home, and clumps of dirt from the swings. Next came the chopsticks, burdocks, barrettes and bows that had gotten lost, sap and pine needles from the tree she was stuck in, the brush that got stuck and hundreds and hundreds of snarls and tangles.
Esmeralda’s new haircut fell to her shoulders fell in soft waves. Her mother brushed until it gleamed and put a bright bow in it. She looked in the mirror and liked who she saw. She promised herself she would always keep her hair neat and clean . . . And she did.