Like any proud and loving mother, I swear I have the most beautiful children on the planet! (I’m sure you do too.)
This week is birthday week for both of my youngest girls.
They are both so interesting and unique (and exasperating) in their own ways.
So baby girlie has asked me a few times if she can do some fun color accent in her hair. Omgosh! I can just hear my dad now! Thirty years ago when I was a teenager, bright hair color was very uncommon (even in the heart of the big city). If ever my dad saw any unnatural-looking hair color, he would point it out to me and express how much he disapproved of it. “Need attention, much?” he would say (to me, of course; he’d never say that actually TO someone). You should’ve seen him go bananas when people started piercing stuff in the mid 90s. Even as an adult, if we were ever out together and he saw it, he’d look at that person like a deer caught in the headlights and just shake his head.
So… I say this because I just knew… y’know the stuff you just know from your parents say (and don’t say). I was a pretty good girl and I just wasn’t going to do that kind of stuff (including getting hickies… which OMGOSH my dad had opinions about that for sure!). I respected my parents and wanted them to respect me too. They taught me to respect others, so I just did.
Well… times have changed. I started to highlight my own hair in my mid-20s (just brightening to the lighter blonde I used to be as a younger girl). Once, I did attempt to color it a strawberry blonde, but that was a freakin’ total failure! I don’t know what the heck happened, but it turned green almost all over! There were some tinges of purple as well. It was a trainwreck! I stayed up for HOURS trying to figure something out, but nothing was making the situation better!
After having stayed up until after midnight, I was exhausted. I was in college at the time (student teaching, as a matter of fact). I waited tables for the early shift at Perkins Family Restaurant & Bakery as a waitress. Before leaving the house about 4:30am, I had french braided my hair and put on a thick headband to hide the disaster underneath!
There were typically about 30 employees on a Sunday morning and I didn’t get past the first one without them alarmed at my hair! It was a nightmare. On my break, I had called to see if ANY hair salon was open and of course, only Supercuts was open. I didn’t even get my hair cut there! There might be some great stylists who work there, but (having had a sister get a cosmetology license) I knew that the bulk of their employees were fresh out of school. The company could pay them a lot less while they got experience. I get it! I had no trust in such a place, but I was desperate. As soon as I got off work, I rushed as quickly as I could to get it fixed (and though it was fried beyond recognition), it was no longer green nor purple. That was 1996 and the last time I ever put anything besides a little lighter or a little darker subtle highlight in my hair.
When I had a child with red hair, I was so excited to have a baby girl with the precise color I had attempted to color my own hair way back when! Too bad people are complete… I do try not to swear on my blog, so … caught myself there… anyway… people are seriously freaking rude jerks sometimes.
When my baby girl was little, I cannot tell you how many times I walked into the bathroom at a store to sob or just left completely upset– always in tears– sometimes in sadness, frustration, or flat out anger. I freaking hated how people tried to form an opinion about the personality of my child merely based on her (stunning) hair color. “OOoohhh y’got a red head on ya. Good luck with that one!” or “She’s gonna be a hot-head!” hundreds of people for YEARS. So completely effing rude and hurtful. I know just as many asshole blondes and brunettes, but nobody ever says something like that about those hair colors. In fact, my other child (who’s 3 years older than that one) was always present for those store trips. This remark was pretty common, “Oh wow. A red head! (Snide tone), but look at this one with the beautiful blonde hair!” Can you BELIEVE people?!?
I began to write a book about redheads. In doing so, I did some research. I learned that 70% natural redheads color their hair to other tones. There are some serious implications that go along with that. Here’s an idea… stop red-head-shaming (if for no reason than for the sake of their mothers).
When my 10-year-old started to mention wanting to put a bold color highlight in her hair, I sort of flipped… on the inside (on the outside, I did keep my cool). I said, “I don’t know, Honey. Your hair color is just gorgeous. I don’t know if I like the idea of you changing it.” And with that, she dropped it (for about as long as a 10-year-old who wants something can drop it… like 4 seconds. “C’mon, Mom!” We didn’t argue about it, but I did tell her, I wasn’t a fan of the idea. I said, “That doesn’t really mean, ‘no,’ but I don’t know if that’s something either of us are ready for.”
A couple months pass and the burning desire within her did not fade… at all. Unlike her usual method of operation, when she broached the subject again, she was super sweet about it. I didn’t say yes to her, but I did really think about it. I thought… I’m so glad I’ve still got her respect enough to ask me. I was really thrilled that all she wanted to do was something small. She even asked if we could do something that washes out after a few washes. She was actually winning me over on the idea.
On the morning of her birthday, I told her I had a surprise for her after work. She had no idea. She has a special buddy (a friend of mine from church) who she gets together with on Wednesdays and those two had a blast being that Wednesday was also her birthday this week. Trip to yogurt shop, gifts, and trip to see kitties at the local animal shelter. When she got back to my classroom and I got off work, we made a quick trip to the little shopping center down the street. I’ve been in there before for nail polish remover or hair conditioner, so it wasn’t completely weird to be there, but when she saw me looking at wild hair colors, I got her attention, “Mom?”
“Surprise! Ready to pick a color?”
She squealed with delight! (And continued the delightful squeals all evening!)
That’s right. I decided… y’ know what? It’s JUST hair. If I hate it, I can cut it or re-color it. I do it to my own hair. AND, probably most of all, we are at the point where the relationship between the two of us where she’s got to know that I will not judge her based on her personal preferences being different than mine and that no matter what, she can come to me. So… ya… I don’t know if this was the perfect avenue, but it was a good solid couple of hours of just her and me. It was awesome. We talked about big stuff and little stuff. We laughed and we sat in silence. We were excited and frustrated together, but more than anything, we were… together. I LOVE how the color turned out (truth be known, I think more of the teal would be totally fine with me). WHAT?!? Ya. I know. Crazy .
I love being a mom.
Happy Birthday, Sweet Girlie.