#45: French Braiding

Posted by Megan on June 18th, 2013

Bonjour Je m’appelle Megan. Comment allez-vous?

I have just exhausted my French-speaking abilities.  Even though I took French class for five years, I can barely utter my name. Actually it was more than five years if you consider that I had to drop French 301 twice before finally squeaking by with a C in the last semester of college.  I think the prof passed me not because I had any mastery of the French language but because I tried really hard, studied endlessly, had a tutor… oh and I cried in class – twice.

French Canadian Toast.

Since then, I’ve been intimidated by all things French. I can’t even make French toast correctly. I always end up with chunks of egg white clinging to a piece of soggy Wonder bread. I think this is technically called “French Canadian Toast.” (SLAM Canada!) Not surprisingly the art of French braiding has always been out of reach. I held a grudge against Joanie all through junior high because she was seemingly the only mom who didn’t know how to execute the super trendy hairdo. I was stuck with a regular old American Working Mom braid. (aka a stumpy tangle that was decidedly non-francophone).My braid jealousy returned fiercely when intricate braided up-dos spread into the young adult genre. People magazine regularly taunts me with red carpet shots of beautiful actresses rocking braid-based styles.

I tried to talk my husband into learning how to French braid so that I could finally be part of the 6th grade click. He declined.

It occurred to me abruptly, after 25 years of yearning,  that I could just learn to do it myself. It was an epiphany! For some reason I just assumed it would be too difficult master that I never even tried it. It was decided in an instant. I would teach myself!

I watched several youtube demonstrations. Not surprisingly, they were all hosted by pre-teen cheerleader types.  They promised it would be the perfect hair style for a school dance, a football game, and picture day. Clearly I was coming to this a bit late.

My virtual French braiding tutor helped me learn the basics while simultaneously making me feel super old.

My virtual French braiding tutor helped me learn the basics while simultaneously making me feel super old.


I sat in my bathroom sink awkwardly attempting to wind my thick stands into a flowing decorative pattern. I sat, trying, trying again, trying some more. I felt like a failure. I was reliving my college French classes all over again. I tried until my arms were so tired I physically could not hold them above my head any longer.  I sulked, feeling frustrated and defeated. Then I marched back to the bathroom determined to defeat my unruly hair. This cycle repeated itself for about an hour until then – Sacre Bleu! I did it! And then I did it again, and again. After ten minutes of practice, I had it down! I taught myself something I had always longed to know and it wasn’t even that hard!


The only problem? French braids look pretty stupid on me. Maybe my mom was right to stick to more basic hair styles.  My Norwegian head just doesn’t yield  to its southern rival’s staple hair style.

Despite this, it feels good to master a skill I’ve always longed to have. Excuse me while I find my time machine to travel back to 8th grade. I have some awesome hair to show off!

Ce qui est fait n’est plus à faire.
(I had to google that)

  • © 2011 Megan Steil