Love’s a free spirit

By Mir
July 16, 2009

Otto and I have endless discussions about being A Visual Person vs. not being A Visual Person. Otto is visual. He sees things that I don’t. He remembers how to get somewhere if he’s been there once before, and can point out all of the relevant landmarks.

I am most definitely NOT visual. Vision is perhaps my weakest sense, both literally and figuratively. I’m moved by sounds, scents, and most especially feel. I can identify something I last smelled years ago, or one of my children by the curve of the hand snaking around my chair to tickle me, but how things look is not much of a cue in my world.

(Unless we’re talking about pretty shoes. That’s a different paradigm, intrinsically linked to the double-X chromosome set, I guess.)

Anyway, I find myself meditating on hair a lot these days. How it looks, how it feels, and whether it has to MEAN something.

Monkey’s hair has been short for months, now, and he’s decided to grow it long again. I’ve gotten a lot of, erm, “feedback” over the years on my son’s hair. I would prefer he keep it short, I guess, but I don’t care enough to make it an issue. If he cares, and he wants it long, what do I gain by arguing or forcing him? Nothing. Nothing I want, anyway. I am not a terribly permissive parent. I’m working on saying “yes” more often. And if we’re talking hair, do I really NEED to say no? I don’t think so.

So he’s growing it out again. And every morning he bounces down the stairs and comes to see me in my office, and then goes off to enjoy a bit of television while he finishes waking up. As his hair grows, the bedhead becomes more and more impressive. I try not to laugh at him, but it’s getting harder. Of course, then he comes and curls up in my lap and that soft, wavy hair presses into my face and neck and I breathe in Essence Of Monkey—a fine blend of sweet and slightly salty, not unlike a puppy who’s been caught devouring a bag of Pixie Sticks—and I marvel at the softness of his locks versus the all-knees-and-elbows pointedness of the rest of him.

I let him wait to brush his hair until lunch, sometimes, because it doesn’t feel the same when I walk past and tousle it, after it’s been brushed into submission.

* * * * *

So I posted to Facebook that we’d streaked Chickadee’s hair and dyed it with Kool-Aid, and got several comments about what a “cool mom” I am. They made me laugh. I am so NOT a cool mom, but again, do I really care if she wants to do something with her hair? I don’t. She’s experimenting, and I’m happy to aid and abet rather than having her either make a giant mess (and possibly damage her hair) or choose grander ways to rebel.

Chickadee’s hair is currently undergoing a bit of a puberty transformation. My hair, of course, is curly beyond measure, and I’ve always wondered at the relative straightness of the kids’ hair. Chickie’s hair has been getting wavier, and wavier, and looks like it may indeed go ahead and curl right up, pretty soon. So she plays; one day she asks me to help her encourage the curl, the next, she asks me to flat-iron it. I oblige. And when she asks for the orange streak, I oblige then, too.

I don’t so much see how it looks, which is perhaps why the streak is unremarkable to me. I know how it feels when she rests her head on my shoulder. I know the tickle of flyaway cornsilk strands as they reach my nose when she hugs me. I know that she will brush it out completely straight, while wet, and it will slowly dry and curl up and be at its softest for covert nuzzling when it’s almost (but not completely) dry. And I know that now, her head smells like tropical fruit.

* * * * *

Happy Love Thursday, everyone. What are the free spirits around you wanting to do these days? Maybe it’s time to close your eyes and find out.


  1. mamalang

    I always swore that I would let my kids have their hair however they wanted. And for the most part I’ve kept that promise. But I have to draw the line at the continual dying and such, because I don’t want them to damage their hair. And I don’t want to pay for it. But mohawks? Go for it! Long, short, go for it. Now I have to try the kool aid dying.

  2. Megan

    My Male Child spent about three years with hair the color of whatever soccer team it was on – including a happy summer where it was on TWO teams and got to be half green, half red. It was easy enough to let them express themselves with mohawks or dye but now two of them are past the wing-stretching phase and are poised for flight. So in the next few weeks it’s going to be a gulp and a plunge and some frantic fluttering and then independence for two of them. It’s bitter-sweet, but mostly sweet, to see how those small freedoms through the years have built up into a confident individuality that is ready, with only a few moments of panic, to take on the world.

  3. Jenn C.

    I’m curious, did you have to bleach it to get the orange to show up so nicely against her dark hair?

  4. Melinda

    I think it is a great idea to let kids have some say in how they look. It is a great way to build individuality with something that can’t really do them any harm. It shows them also that their parents support the individual they are becoming. :-)

  5. Crista

    Seeing Chickie’s short(er) hair reminds me that she had her hair cut when Monkey did, to make him feel better. And that is a lovely thing to remember on Love Thursday.

  6. Susie

    I am a Not Visual person too – I’m always trying to explain it to my fiance, and I thought I was weird that I’m tactile and then auditory! Lucky, too, because I lost ~50% of my (already poor) vision in my right eye to optic neuritis… ahh inexplicable medical maladies, aren’t they fun?

  7. Scottsdale Girl

    This free spirit would like to Bo Derek her hair and sit on a beach for about 2 months. With all the books she can possibly read and fried foods and lots of BOOZE.

  8. exile on mom street

    nothing is free, for me, today.

    but there is still love, and it’s nice to be reminded of that.

  9. Flea

    The free spirit that lives in the middle bedroom wants to spend lots of time with his “girlfriend”. I’m afraid that’s been a struggle all summer. Making time for them – in group settings – but not too much time. Argh.

  10. Tracy

    There is nothing like self-expression. Good for you to allow both your children that freedom. I applaud you!
    Happy Thursday everyone!

  11. Jamie AZ

    Since my boys were born, I’ve always said that if the worst they want to do in changing their appearance is having blue hair, then where’s the dye? I think giving that bit of leeway is helpful in being able to rein in other things. Right now my boys (8 and 5 1/2) are wanting to grow their hair out, so we’re letting them. I love the clean, neat look of short hair, but these floppy mops are fun, too. We’ll see how long they get. The young one said he wants his hair down to his bottom. Good luck!

    Happy Love Thursday, Mir!

  12. TC

    Em’s curly toddler hair turned to stick-straight kid hair…until last year, when puberty hit. Today? It’s almost as curly as it was during the toddler years.

    Until this happened, I had no idea that was a side-effect of puberty! The things you learn…

  13. Monica

    My son had bright purple hair for a very very short period before it all faded out, much to his dismay and he lived for months with a dirty gray/brownish roots look. He also went through a couple of years of long hair. I’ve always been of the opinion that hair grows out, and there are is no easier way to have them rebel AND still have the possibility of a perfectly straightlaced adulthood :D

    The hardest part about his periods of hair extremism was dealing with my inlaws. They could never quite hide their dislike of it.

  14. Anna Marie

    I just want to say that Monkey has the most beautiful hair I’ve ever seen. And I love that you let Chickie have a streak.

  15. Mom

    You’re a better man than I, Gunga Din.

    Love to y’all, all the time,

  16. Sara

    I want to touch Monkey’s hair. It looks nummy. I have my own curly-headed boy. I love to run my fingers through it and he loves it when I do, so that’s good. I am, like you, of the opinion that it’s just hair. My husband however, is a bit more, er, opinionated, so when the boys’ hair gets too long, they all take a trip to the barber. I keep trying to gently remind him that this is an easy sort of rebellion (if there is such a thing)and a much better option than what we could be facing. So far, he’s not buying it.
    I hope that you’ll have many more years of soft hair and bony knees and elbows crowding your lap. I’m hoping my boys are too big for my lap before they figure out they’re too big for my lap…

  17. Sheila

    Hair goes through puberty, too? Well, I’ll be! My hair, apparently, is something of a late bloomer, for it is now and always has been poker-straight– no matter how many nights I prayed for curly hair. Maybe my daughters and I will go through Hair Puberty together! Yay!

  18. Karen

    My parents were pretty permissive with us. You want to jet skiing with the drunk neighbor – Sure, no problem. 6 weeks in Europe on a tour bus – Well, you are 12. You should be able to take care of yourself for 6 weeks. You got your driver’s license this morning – Heck if that was me I’d be grabbing my friends and heading on a road trip. (Luckily we all survived).

    But for some reason they were really anal about our hair and our appearance.

    I think I like your approach much better!

  19. Jennifer

    I agree. Some things just aren’t worth fighting. You gotta save your energy for the things that matter.

  20. MomCat

    Lovely, both of your young mop tops! Give ’em love through self-expression, I say. They will thank you for it. One day.

  21. Beth

    Somewhere in the back of my mind is always lurking this tidbit of parenting philosophy that says you need to make sure your children have enough rules so they don’t have to rebel BIG in order to rebel. You know, if you tell them having pierced ears is Evil they’ll sneak out and get their ears pierced instead of doing drugs.

    Not that I agree with that! I think it was my dad’s philosophy…no makeup until 15, no pierced ears at all “over my dead body”, etc. (I got my ears pierced when I was 18 and Dad spluttered like he was going to explode when he realized he couldn’t do anything about it.)

    I was a “good” kid with a lot of inner rebellion and resentment. I don’t want my kids to be that way. I can’t think of any specific examples of how my kids are free spirits, but I do know that we’ve tried very hard to not lay down laws that we can’t back up with good logic. We have had to back down and apologize for some rules we made that we shouldn’t have…some of them were made because we as parents wanted to look good to our peers. (urgghhh)

  22. Aimee

    Well, I think you’re a cool mom. :)

  23. Pepper

    I think its great you let your children be their own person, hair color and style are the small things in life. Too often children aren’t allowed self-expression and end up hating their parents for it.

    I thank my mom everyday for letting me be myself and not trying to mold me into something that I’m not.

  24. Dawn

    What are the free spirits around me wanting to do? Huh. Live off me for free. At 20. That WOULD make me a permission parent. Get thee a job, slattern!*

    You have chosen your battles wisely. Hair decisions are temporary and not worth the fight.

    But oh, Monkey’s hair. The hair of my dreams. I have baby fine, thin, not quite straight hair. It doesn’t curl, it just kind of hangs down and then bends about 30 degrees for the last inch and a half. It’s like it has the shape of straight with the strength of will of curly. Very odd.

    Re Chickie’s Kool-Aid hair, above-mentioned 20-year old, when about 14, had $70-worth of blondish foils put in her brunette hair at a salon, courtesy of this lovin’ momma. It looked lovely. This happened on a Saturday.

    The following Saturday morning, I went to pick her up from a sleep-over to find her with nearly platinum blond hair. I say nearly, because not only was it not quite that white, but having been done by 14-year olds, using a box of drug store dye, it hadn’t quite reached all the way to the roots in places. *sigh* I didn’t cry, but it was a close call. One week. A $70 colouring lasted one week. That’s not much bang for the buck for a single mom, I can tell you.

    *To her credit, she is actively seeking employment. She also has avoided blond hair like the plague ever since. Also, I’ve gotten GREAT mileage out of, “Less than a week! $70!!! LESS THAN A WEEK!!!” for the last six years. I think that may well have been worth the money.

  25. Heather @ critterchronicles

    My hair was also straight as a pin (with the exception of those times that I had a perm – yikes!), until I got my last perm in my freshman year of high school… and the curls never went away. My daughter has straight, straight hair, too, but only time will tell, I suppose, if she’ll suffer my fate of the curly locks at puberty.

  26. Paula

    What beautiful hair your son has, I can understand that he does not want to cut it. Ours had similar hair. Some day when he was eight, he wanted to dye it blue or pink, and although we had an agreement that he could wear his hair like he wanted, he was not allowed to do so. The reason we explained to him: being the class clown will not be helpful for your school career. He accepted it.

    Later on he preferred to wear it supershort because of his soccer team buddies. Once, when he wanted to almost shave it completely, we pointed out that we do not like nazi-skinheads. And he agreed again.

    Everything is possible, within limits set by social appearance.

  27. margie

    hair. big deal. not a hill to die on.

  28. mom, again

    My oldest went through a punk phase. I agreed she could dye her hair any color she wanted, the day she brought home straight-A’s (something she was capable of, but couldn’t be bothered to do.) Until then, she could only dye it a single color off the usual hair colouring shelf, and no bleaching. She went through high school alternating between the blackest black and the reddest red that L’Oreal had to offer. Hot pink wasn’t enough enticement to actually do homework.

  29. Katie in MA

    Yes you ARE a cool mom…because you care in all the right ways. You’ve learned how to hold close and when to let go and I really, really hope I can learn from everything you’ve shared with us.

Things I Might Once Have Said


Quick Retail Therapy

Pin It on Pinterest