The Haircut: A Dramatic Production
"To cut my hair, or not to cut my hair. That is the question," Madison said. Rather than follow the obvious thread about haircuts, I asked her which of Shakespeare's plays the "to be or not to be" quote came from. She answered correctly and then I quizzed her on what she knew about Hamlet's soliloquy. She was in no mood for a lesson.
"English Schminglish. Mom, MY HAIR. I'm thinking of getting bangs."
Okay. I've always been liberal when it comes to hair. If Madison wanted to get a hot pink mohawk, I'd let her. I'd rather she express herself with a wild hairstyle than piercings or tattoos, which are NOT ALLOWED in this house. Since her taste leans toward what's trendy, hair hasn't been a huge concern. So, now she wants bangs? No big deal.
You're familiar with the hormonal make-up of a teenage girl, right? Then you realize few things in life are more traumatic than a bad haircut and bangs cannot be undone. I will have to drive Madison home from the salon and live with her every single day until her bangs grow out.
I tried to plant a seed of doubt. "Your hair is so pretty. You want to change it? Are you sure you really want to do that?"
She was sure. Madison had already discussed her plan with a friend, who immediately turned serious. "I got bangs last summer," she said ominously and pulled out her cell phone. "This is a picture of me the day after my haircut." The photo showed the girl using a headband to pull back her hair, camouflaging the bangs. "Don't do it," she warned. But even the friend's admonition didn't dissuade Madison. I ensured a "cooling off period" by making a hair appointment a few days out. And yes, she was still sure.
I took her to Great Clips and sat there like a person waiting for their loved one to come out of surgery. I read my Kindle, kicking my leg nervously, fidgeting. When it was over I asked, "Do you like it?" Stupid question. She's not going to say no in front of the stylist but I was looking for any signs of drama coming. Pouty face? Teary eyes? Nothing.
Then we walked out the door and the very first thing she said to me was, "Can we go to Target and get some headbands?"
Target was just a short walk around the corner in the same strip mall. Of course I said we could buy headbands. I had a teenage girl with haircut-regret. Get me headbands, STAT!
Before we even made it inside the store, paranoia was setting in. She thought everyone was staring at her.
"No one is staring at you," I said. "How do they know you got a haircut? As far as they know, this is the way you've always looked."
She pointed an accusing finger. "That guy was staring at me."
"Well, you're beautiful. People will look at you. There's no reason to think they're staring or attribute it to anything else." It's true that she's beautiful but flattery at this stage is very important.
Once inside Target, I rushed her to the hair products aisle. Bows. Elastic hair bands. Barrettes. Hair clips. Headwraps and headbands. Thank God for the headbands.
"Does it look all even?" she asked.
"Yes, I promise you. They look fine."
Without a mirror, just by simply running her fingers along her bangs, she was sure they were a jagged mess and declared she was NEVER going back to that salon again. And now what was she going to do? How was she going to even them out? How was she ever going to show her face in public again? Who was going to be her friend now that she has these rugged hairs on her forehead?
I kept her from an emotional breakdown using distraction. "How about these headbands? Do you like these?"
She found a few she liked, some black and some brown. I'd have bought one in every color of the rainbow to make her feel better. Yes, she was warned. Yes, she's old enough to have to live with her decisions. Yes, I'm her mother and not her friend but we're both girls and girls do not let each other deal with a bad haircut alone.
When we got home she asked her Dad, "How do I look?"
Lucas thought it over for a second and then blurted, "You look like a Russian spy."
WHAT?! Alright, I could kind of see what he was talking about. Long and straight, dark brown hair with bangs to her eyebrows. Like Angelina Jolie in Salt.
I was extremely concerned about Madison's reaction to this brutal honesty. And do you know what she did? SHE LAUGHED. She actually thought it was funny. Now if I had said that to her, things would not have gone the same. Not even close. But Madison and her Dad have a relationship where he gets a free pass for these kinds of comments. Maybe because sometimes you really do need someone to give it to you straight and sometimes you need someone to lighten the mood with humor. Pretty soon she did feel better and by the end of the night she was embracing her new Russian spy alter-ego, Natasha. She decided her bangs were straight after all and the Great Clips boycott was canceled.
You know what I think? I think next time Madison wants a haircut her Dad can take her.
by Melissa Choate
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