Not long ago a bunch of kids at school were getting their heads shaved to raise cancer awareness. Which really is awesome, if you ask me, but I wondered a bit about the parents would think. Would they care? Would they scream? If your child suddenly came home hairless, would you be the least bit upset?
The whole thing reminded me of when Jake was 6 years old.
We were at the hairdressers and he wanted a buzz cut. I'm not fond of buzz cuts. His thick, baby fine golden hair was just nice the way it is, and I didn't think he needed it cut off. So I made an arbitrary Mom decision. The sort of decisions that as a kid I resented with a passion.
I said no. I paid for a perfectly nice haircut, thank you very much.
About a week later we were watching TV and I reached over to muss his hair like I normally did. Although something about this time was different. Weird. Not the same. Something was...(gasp!) missing.
Different because he had cut a huge chunk of his hair off, right in the front. He strategically had cut in a place that couldn't be noticed right away, but my god, when you noticed it was all you could see; this huge, glaring hole in his hair do. He had even sliced it so close to the hairline that I had no choice but take him back and get all his hair completely buzzed off.
I should have seen this coming. I was the kid who wanted long hair but who wasn't allowed, and who, as soon as I left home, grew it to the middle of my back and left it like that for the next 12 years. It was my hair, and nobody was telling me how to style it; certainly not my parents.
This kid is so much like me sometimes it's a bit scary.
So I asked him about it.
"Oh, I did it at school. When the teacher wasn't looking. I really wanted a buzz cut."
I pictured him in his grade one class, while the other children were reading, hacking away at his hair with those plastic kindergarten scissors.
"But you just had a hair cut last week." A freaking haircut that I just paid $20 for, and now I'm going to have to take you back?
"I don't care. I wanted a buzz cut." He looked at me pointedly, his eyes saying, "It's my hair Mom, and if I want it cut, I'm cutting it even if you don't like it." This kid is the poster child of stubbornness.
Admitting defeat, I made another appointment and Jake received his coveted buzz cut. When the stylist was finished he was delighted. He ran around the shop as if to display his new found treasure, the lollipop reward clutched tightly in his fist, stopping only to invite people to "rub his head".
"It's so COOL!" he squealed. We laughed until tears pricked at our eyes.
Since then I haven't worried so much about his hair. I backed off. I even told him that if he wants to dye it weird colors, grow it, shave it, I don't care anymore. It's just hair, and it does grow back eventually. He continues to have it shorn into a buzz cut regularly because that's the way he likes it.
Awhile later, he came back with some stick on tattoos.
"Hey Mom, Vanessa and Jordan have these really cool tattoos......"
I knew where this was going.
"....and maybe when I'm older I can get one too!"
"No." Sorry, the hair was negotiable, this one isn't. Tattoos are permanent. I know he adores his older sister, and her tattoos are great...for her. Not for my six year old. Not going to happen.
"...but they are really neat! I promise I'll wait until I'm older!"
"NO. When you leave home, do what you want. Piercings and tattoos are something you can do then. "
To my amazement, he shrugged. Hallelujah! He's letting go of that one easily! I inwardly cheered, pleased with myself for diverting another small crisis.
"That's okay, " he chirped back happily..." I wasn't planning on ever leaving anyway."