“My real hair color is kind of a dark blonde. Now I just have mood hair.”
You all know our daughter K by now, right?
For the newbies: Kira is kiddo number two of four, has written several times for me here on this blog, future author, singer, songwriter, is obsessed with The Beatles, Anime, theater, music, tumbler and art. Personality wise, she’s the love child of Tim Burton and Gidget… an awesomely funny combination.
Since she could speak, the child wanted fantastically wild colored hair. Her gorgeous platinum blonde wasn’t the ticket in her book. We told her that she was too young to dye her beautiful hair all through elementary school. She accepted our arguments and patiently waited while faithfully checking each of our roadblocks off her list as she found her way through it or around them.
We started negotiations with her upon entering middle school but we made sure to set our bar just a hair out of reach. Oh sure, it was a great goal but let’s be realistic. Our expectations were a tad high to meet the criteria for pink hair.
She didn’t balk or give us static. There was no slamming of doors or muttering behind backs.
The kid just summoned all available fortitude and showed us what she’s made of.
The Handsome Prince and I talked it over and over until the subject was covered from all angles. I couldn’t figure out why it bothered me so much. I’ve had rainbow hair in my day so what’s the problem?
I was afraid of being judged.
Someone was going to look at my kid and think that I was a rotten parent.
That bothered me and then I had another revelation…
This had NOTHING to do with me.
This was about something my kid has always wished and hoped for. Something that makes her happy, just as it did me once upon a few decades ago.
She earned it. She followed through and found a way to exceed our expectations.
Before we dyed her hair “bubble gum pink”, we made a list of all the judgments that others may have about someone with wild colored hair. I wanted her to be completely aware of how others may perceive her. We looked at the list that had ugly words like loser, stoner, drop out and incapable of holding a job.
“That isn’t me,” K adamantly said.
“Then be prepared to be the example, the exception and the reason why people change their opinions if you’re ready to take this step,” I cautioned her. “No one can miss you with bright hair anyway so you might as well be the light.”
The reason why it doesn’t matter isn’t because we’re “cool” parents. She is what matters to us. How she sees herself and what makes her feel beautiful. Her self-esteem is far more important and any judgments or crossed eyed glances. Her happiness, her goals, want she wants and needs is what matters, as with all of our children. Isn’t childhood the one time in life that we can be totally supported, try new things, have experiences, grow, learn and morph into the weird humans we’ll become? She has well over three years before she can be employed part time and when she chooses to seek employment beyond our family businesses, she is aware that she has to keep the colors to a respectable roar, depending upon profession.
I didn’t love dying her hair pink.
Then it was almost fun dying it purple.
Now it’s just dang hysterical when we did her hair a mix of blue, purple and a combo of the two. We chat. We laugh. We complaint loudly and how long it takes. We got dye on the bath mat.
She shares more with us now than she did. She knows that we support her and have faith in who she is. It opened a wider line of communication when she felt like she had people listening to her and understanding the things she finds important. We compromised and everyone is happy.
The teen years are brutal the first time but then we get to do it over again with our children.
Do I think she tells us everything? Please, I’m not new to this rodeo but I do think we get most.
We tell them that we might not like what you do or say but we always love you so we will figure it out together… it’s the unofficial theme of the teen years I believe. We signed up for that job and it really is a privilege.
That kid with the bluish purple hair that you pointed at and rolled your eyes?
She’s designing the set for her school’s Fall Theater Competition- lighting, flooring, moveable hand painted backdrops, furniture, then has to defend her concept in front of a packed house of her peers from over 15 schools, a panel of judges, parents and she’s also the team leader for her DTASC Tech division.
She’s a very talented writer, guitarist and is dying to get into a specific performing arts high school next year. (Fingers crossed but chances are good!)
She’s been reading at a college level for years and reads an impressive amount.
She’s an honor student.
If a little bit of hair dye is what it takes to have a good relationship with my teen, hop in the car… we’re going for a new color!
But what about the family holiday photo?! It will be ruined with one neon kid!!!
Raise your hand if you ever looked at someone’s family photo and everyone looked super happy and angelic but in real life the kids are the devil’s spawn and the parents should be holding martinis.
No One? I digress.
My mother had a saying about holiday photos, milestone photographs that contained someone crying, something weird or off, “that’s who they are this year.”
Meaning: Our children are ever evolving people. If sitting on Santa’s lap scares the stuffing out of them at 3, this way you’ll remember. Or have documented proof of from whence those were anxieties came from, eh?
I do not let my own mistakes define me; I ask that they make me better. So why on earth would a bit of colored hair ruin my day, week, month, let alone an entire year? That’s who they are this year and they are great! My nutty bunch have been a riot lately. I am so grateful for each one of these nuts.
Take the dang photos and embrace it!
If you can’t stand it, make the photo saved on your phone be in black and white.
Some people feel better that way and that is totally okay too.
You don’t have to love it but accepting is a good thing and embracing is more fun.
Part of our deal is no tattoos or unauthorized piercings until a bit older than legally required and even then better we chat first. We’re cool but we have firm limits. Hair dye is not the gateway body art and if it is, it doesn’t scare me to have a colorful but highly educated kid.
I want her to struggle, to find peace, to learn, to grow, to be truly happy, to change and to know that no matter what, she’s got her whole family there for her. I want her to be orange, blue, green, red, yellow and maybe several colors at once if it floats her boat. Do it now while there is time to try on new hues and enjoy this season of youthful freedom.
Once upon a time Kira was my shrinking violet that never wanted to do or say anything to call attention to herself in anyway. Now, I’d say she’s over that. She’s come into her own and is a much happier person.
What was I doing the night before school picture day?
I was dying my kid’s hair pink again, because that’s what it takes sometimes.
I like the picture. It didn’t kill me. It didn’t make me sad and I’m still going to proudly pass them out as we have every school year. It is just hair! Get over it! I’ve got too much of it; the Prince’s is thinning, were both going grey. Big freaking whoop!
That’s who they are this year.
I told her if she got her master’s, I’ll dye my whole head Manic Panic purple for graduation.
We shook on it.
So that kid with the funky hair will most likely produce some type of art that you purchase, watch, buy tickets to, read, listen to or talk about in the future.
Our willingness to compromise, create great communication, a solid relationship and achieve successful results is an indication of our parenting, not the color of the kid’s hair this week.
There are always points and places in which we can forge strong connections during these critical years. Raising an artist is rough on the bath mats.
You always fit in here no matter the color,