Being fifty-something, I know that the difference between a crappy haircut or hair colour and a good one is just a few weeks’ growing time.
Still, it’s no consolation for mothers of teenage princesses who choose to use their hair to express themselves (the princesses, I mean, not the mothers).
I recently had coffee with my fifty-something friend W whose teen daughter is doing just that.
I haven’t seen it for myself but apparently she is sporting one of those asymmetrical looks … you know the one: shaved up one side of the head and long flowing locks on the other. I think of it as the someone-got-to-Barbie-with-their-safety-scissors-while-Mum-wasn’t-looking look. W’s daughter is beautiful and I’m sure she’s rocking her ‘do big-time. No consolation for W. Especially when her daughter’s plan is to dye the ‘do purple.
Ah, it takes me back. My Girl spent her teen years sporting red hair. Not a natural shade of red. No. She insisted on bright, scarlet red. I think the hair dye colour was “Scarlet Shimmer”.
Shimmer she did. For years on end. Relentless years while we waited for her to “outgrow” it.
Meanwhile, Mr P and I took it in turns dyeing her hair. It was a great opportunity for bonding and saved us big bucks. Mostly, it let us retain a glimmer of control, a scarlet shimmer of parental involvement. Her friends thought we were pretty groovy … we thought we might be crazy.
I’d read that folk who rebelled as teens were less likely to succumb to a midlife crisis in later years. We clung to incredible not-based-in-science positives like that.
We consoled ourselves with “better than a tattoo” (that was yet to come) and “better than a facial piercing” (also yet to come).
There was the failed attempt at a nose piercing that came loose during a tearful night of teenage angst. Seems there’s a window for having your nose stud reinserted and if you miss it because your mum won’t let you take time off school to do the deed then … well, it’s too late. School attendance (unlike hair colour) was always non-negotiable in our house.
Just when we thought we were growing used to the hair colour, My Girl’s cousin’s wedding day rolled around. A big fat family wedding. It was a busy morning trying to get organised and I hurriedly sent My Girl down to the hairdresser for a professional “tidy-up” for her long, single length hair, omitting to give any instructions. A teenage girl, at the hairdresser with no firm boundaries set. Trouble. She returned not long after with a high-volume, chunkily layered, product-boasting mullet that any rock chick would be proud of. Not so much me. I was horrified. When we purchased a layered tulle skirt for her to wear to the wedding, I’d seen hippy princess; she’d seen rock goddess.
At least she’s easy to spot in the wedding photo’s.
Now twenty-six, My Girl has tried out most of the available hair colours. Her naturally strawberry blonde hair has been white blonde and black (sometimes concurrently) and is now (as at last sighting) dark, dark brown. She’s as gorgeous now as she was then. I just didn’t see it so much because I was so tied up in the responsibility of parenting and wondering how we were going to weather that storm and what people were thinking.
That’s why I so admire my friend W and how she is choosing to handle the “hair” situation at her house.
She doesn’t make a fuss. She doesn’t nag about it. She doesn’t comment.
She ignores it.
Whenever possible, she positions herself on the “good” side of her daughter (the unshaved side) and pretends everything is just fine.
Because it is.