Monday, November 13, 2006

What hill am I going to die on?

Early on in parenting I realized there were at least couple of hills I was not going to die on. One is perfectionism with my home. Just not happening in a house full of kids (although that doesn't keep me from occasional rabid tirades wishful thinking about this when I walk into my kids' rooms...).

Another is hair. I just don’t have patience for it.

For all my good intentions, we’ve gone round and round on the hair issue. Starting with hair bows, hair bands and barrettes, and then on to hair styles and hair cuts (or with our son, the lack thereof!), we’ve tried hard to ask ourselves: Is this the hill we’re going to die on (in a more pensive mood, I might ask myself: is this a moral issue?).

For all my angst, the answer, when it comes to hair, is usually, NO.

This year we’ve been tested on our biggest hair hill yet: the hill of color. For her 13th birthday, and yes, against my better judgment, I let my daughter get highlights on her quite-dark brown hair. “NO STRIPES” was my only instruction. And since I am her personal, amateur “colorist,” they came out quite nicely (amazing what a $6 box can do!).

That was three months ago. Since then, we’ve highlighted a couple more times. Had to. We had begun the fight with the sordid underbelly of the hair world: roots. Within two weeks of the last highlighting session, she was already pointing them out to me. I proceeded to point out that her hair was going to be little more than a pile of straw at the rate she wanted to process it.

“Maybe it is time to go back to your natural hair color,” I suggested. But, oh, the futility of trying to reason cost-versus-benefit, or even beauty-versus-fad, with a young teen!

As I applied the “beauty cap” (as we call it) yet again, I questioned myself: “Did I really say this is not the hill I’m going to die on!” How can I possibly survive another round of blood-letting (coming mostly from biting my tongue IN TWO) ? All this, and it's only hair, right?

Then one day, without much of even a sermon from me, she came to terms with the root of the matter (har, har!). My daughter finally admitted she was tired of trying to keep up the “do.”

“I’m tired of highlights. I miss my natural color.” At last, the voice of reason!

This weekend was the designated time to get back to “normal.” We went to the store, picked out the “perfect” color, and (in typical form for me) did the all-over, permanent color at about 9:00 p.m.

Instead of coming out a nice “medium brown” as the box purported, the nightmare occurred: it was jet black. Oh. My. Gracious.

I tried not to panic, but the look on her face said it all: What have we done?

Once the tears (and the suggestion I had turned her Goth), subsided, the words were inevitable: “I can’t go to school looking like this!”

Now I know some of you might be thinking this would have been a perfect time to be tough and make her live with the consequences of her hair decisions. But I do have a few, albeit vague, memories of the importance of hair to a middle schooler. Call me a wimpy mom, but there I was, at the store at 11:00 p.m., having what seemed to be an out-of-the-body experience with my black-haired daughter, trying not to cry together in the hair-color aisle.

We finished the first round of highlights to “fix” everything around 12:30 a.m.

Still too dark! What on earth is this stuff made of?!

The rest of the weekend was filled with tears, clarifying shampoo, tears, dish soap, tears, and yet another round of highlights. And then, no more tears. There was even a little laughter. Wait, there was a LOT of laughter! And tons crazy memories (sorry, she refused camera requests!).

What’s left of her hair is finally within a shade or two of natural. Definitely livable. Success.

But maybe the bigger success is that I’m on the hill, but hey, we're both still alive! Woo-hoo!

Now if we could just do something about that room….


Anonymous said...

OMG I can just imagine! My sister tried going back to blonde once and ended up turning her hair orange! Not funny to her at the time, but everyone else had a good laugh. That's why I only let professionals do mine lol, I'm sure I'd screw up somehow.

Shannon said...

You are a GREAT mom for going back to the store! I have some experience being the daughter in this senario and my mother's grace (and tongue biting!) is a memory I still cherish!

Susanne said...

Laughing along with you. I have been going down this road or should I say up this hill, for 2 years now. The first time we did her hair she wanted this dark brown with red undertones. I tried to tell her you had to have dark hair to begin with. She's blond. Wouldn't listen. So we did it. Can I say her hair was red? Not Christmas red or anything but red nonetheless. But she got a million compliments. We've since gone to auburn to mahogany to what it is now. Bleach blonde bangs, auburn on the on top layers and dark brown on underneath half. Sounds weird but actually looks quite nice. As long as it's not purple, pink or blue kinds of colors we let them express their personality a bit through hair. I'd rather have that than piercings!

Jennifer said...

What a great mom you are! Good memories and lots of laughs in the process (har, har!). :-) I love that question (what hill am I going to die on?).

Gwen Sirmans (Ivey's Mom) said...

You are a very brave woman! You have years of processing ahead of you....good luck.

Chris @ Come to the Table said...

I have had many of these momenets with my own oldest daughter. I love the part when she realizes that she no longer wants to continue with keeping up with the color. When they grasp what we were trying to communicate at the beginning and own it themselves goes much further than trying to win the battle at the front. This is only on non-moral issues. Ohhh what memmories.

I finally posted nine weird things back on the 3rd...........

Chris @ Come to the Table said...

sorry, my fingers went a little crazy on the words "moments" and "memories"

lrlwreath said...

Oh sometimes I would trade you in a heart beat. I love doing hair. But, yes, good memories. Will be a family story for years to come =)

AJ said...

Wonderful memories you made this weekend! I love that you stuck it out until you laughed.

Andrea said...

Wow, Katherine, you are such an awesome mommy. :) Loved reading this, and the "grace" you had with your daughter.

Laura said...

As traumatic as this must have been for her it will be a wonderful memory that she'll talk about forever! How fun and what a great bonding experience. Laura

Theresa said...

LOL! I JUST did this with my older sister this weekend. I usually go to a salon and have it professionally done. But being in a somewhat new area, little ones, hubby traveling, etc. She talked me into doing a "Home Job". (She flew in town this weekend) So of course I couldn't say no. The roots were giving me nightmares.

Needless to say, I need to schedule an appt. with the beautician - very soon! :) I have yellow/orange roots! And, my sister claims there is a spot in the back that didn't "look right". I still have yet to see it.

I feel your pain for your daughter. My $10 box was NOT worth it. I'll post pics on my site soon!

Anonymous said...

Oh my - this is hilarious! Just thinking of the funny memories she'll have to share some day.

Gina Conroy said...

My hair dresser mom highlight my four year old's hair last year. All her baby blonde was growing out, and when she suggested it I agreed. I wasn't willing to let her blonde go, so while mom was highlighting my dark brown hair, we painted a couple of streaks on her.

Now mine is growing out, but with my curly hair it's hard to tell. Don't know when mom will coming again for a visit, but like always, she'll be doing hair on her vacation.