If there’s one bit of sage advice I’ve learned from parenting, it’s choose your battles.
When it comes to the subject of hair — the color, length, style — back off parents.
Hair grows back (unless you are a man over 40), so really, it’s a case of no harm, no foul.
For the past year-and-a-half, my 13-year-old son chose longish hair. A cross between Justin Beiber and the Beatles.
He advised me that the plan was he’d keep letting it grow until one of his friends told him it was too long. I was alerted that I was not on the friends list from whom he’d be seeking counsel on this subject.
I admit, there were days when seeing his bangs cover his eyes and nose in a Shaggy Dog way worried me.
How does he see? Is his unruly hair a signal of inner discontent? Might people think I’m a bad parent for not giving him a haircut?
I was not perfect in my resolve to not make a big deal out of it. “You sure you don’t want a haircut?” I found myself asking every so often.
But to my credit, when he said, “Yes. I’m sure, Mom,” I didn’t argue. The conversation stopped there.
That’s the mistake some parents make. Arguing about hair style seems to make as much sense as arguing about what color shirt he should wear to school. Unless it’s a gang color that could potentially get him killed, why would I care?
True, a mohawk might not be the best choice for a young person trying to get a job, but my son is in middle school. Last I heard he wanted to be a lawyer / rock star. A mohawk might actually work for him in this scenario; not that I am advocating for that.
Recently, my son, on his own accord, came to the conclusion that long hair is a lot of work. Requiring a lot of morning primping time when he could, more happily, be sleeping.
Last weekend, while visiting his father, he got a (gasp!) haircut.
When he came home, I barely recognized him. It is short, stylish. He looks like a young GQ model now.
He seemed very pleased with his new, low-maintenance hairdo. “It’s soooo much easier now.”
The transformation was so significant some kids at school didn’t recognize him at first. “Who are you?” one friend asked.
“Albert,” he told him, giving him an alias.
Recounting the story to me later that afternoon, he explained that it would be very handy to have such an alias should he ever need it.
“And why would you need it, Drew? Planning a crime spree?”
“Just saying. You don’t want me to go to war do you? I might need to get the social security number from a baby who died same year I was born and change my identity.”
“You get this from Bones or CSI?”
“I dunno. It’s good to think about these things is all I’m sayin.”
Raising teenagers. If that’s not a hair-raising experience, I don’t know what is.
Meanwhile I’ve told my kids they are welcome to have as many piercings and tattoos as they want — just as soon as I’m dead.