My daughter has always been a hair twirler. As soon as her hair was long enough and her fingers agile enough, her right hand found comfort there. She is constantly looping & unlooping those wispy brown strands.
Recently, it’s gotten worse. When she was a baby, it was a sign that she was getting tired. Now almost two, it’s a sign that she’s alive; she is always always twirling. It’s getting her into trouble. Yesterday I had to cut her finger loose because her hair was wrapped too tightly and was cutting off circulation. Every morning, the right side of her head is a nest of knots. I have to brush out chunks, leaving damaged frizz behind.
Jame and I actually had a discussion about it last week. How do we make her stop? When we pull her hand out of her hair, she puts it right back. We don’t want her to hurt herself or (for vanity’s sake) leave herself bald on one side.
I decided to do some research (i.e. Google it). The first article I came across said that hair twirling is a self-comforting activity. That’s why initially Leanor was doing it when she was tired. It was just her way of decompressing. The article further explained that she will most likely grow out of it in the next year, and since she isn’t showing other signs of distress (lack of communication, fear of being touched) that it’s probably just a developmental stage.
Instead of being stern with her when she twirls, the article suggested to “fight stress with love.” It said that often when new stresses come up in a child’s life (weaning off a bottle, a new sibling arriving, etc.) the behavior can intensify.
*Cue Lightbulb Moment* That exactly explains our circumstances. The last three months have have brought a ton of baby sister snuggles and kisses and squeals of delight…and about triple the twirling. Perhaps this is the way Leanor is adjusting to her new role as big sister.
My problem is letting her twirl. I’m a fixer. I see a problem, and I have a solution for how to untangle it. There’s strategy for undoing the snags and a plan for avoiding future knots. As much as I want to scold her for messing up her hair, I’m beginning to realize that I’m not actually helping.
Sometimes people need to twirl. When a problem or stress comes up, they may not need a fixer or a solution. They just need someone to love them through the stress, to pray for them & be there for them while they live in the emotion of that unexpected circumstance.
There is a time to speak, and a time to be silent. We tend to jump on the former and disregard the latter. It’s instinctual for us to want to make it all better, to speak the wisdom that brings about life change. But good advice isn’t accepted unless it falls on open ears and soft hearts. And the key so often to keeping ears open and hearts soft is just to listen and love.
It’s humbling to not fix it. Listening and loving sometimes feels idle and useless. And giving advice gives us a sense of control and power over a situation.
But God is the one who is the ultimate Fixer. Before we jump in to help, we need to ask ourselves if we’ve even brought the Lord into the solution. The Holy Spirit might want us to hold off on all the talking and simply love and pray and listen and wait….and let Him do the work of speaking. In His sovereign solution, “not fixing” may be the best fix there is. He has a way of untangling our messes better than we could ever imagine anyways.