Thursday, May 30, 2013

“Me and My Mommy Love Each Other”

On the way home from Teddy’s t-ball practice last Saturday morning, Annabel and I were singing along to the radio when Teddy, just done chomping on his nutritious breakfast of Starbursts from the vending machine, yelled a question up to me in the driver’s seat. Mommy, when is your hair going to be wegulah? 

I was stumped, and, I admit, a bit hurt inside. To buy myself some time, I asked him what he meant. When is your hair going to be wegulah? he repeated. OK, fine then. I knew I was cornered.

Do you mean, when is it going to be longer?


I don’t know buddy. It’s growing fast, don’t you think?


You don’t like my hair the way it is now?


How would you like it to look?

How it looked before.

You liked it that way?


Do you think it’s weird that there aren’t lots of other moms with my haircut?


Man, this was hard.

I tried to explain that I really don't mind that I don't look like other moms. I like my hair and I don’t mind if other people don’t like it. But I don't like to hear that you don't like it because you're my bud. 

But the boys in the car said mean things to you about your hair. Damn. Nothing gets by that kid. 

Certainly Teddy didn’t read my blog about being called a terrible name by a car full of boys as I ran down Washington Street back in March, but I know that he overheard me matter-of-factly telling Brian about it.  Now that I think about it, I can see why it stuck in Teddy’s mind – Brian was mad and upset and wanted to do something about it. I told him it was absolutely fine and I explained to Teddy that sometimes people say mean things but as long as we are happy with ourselves, it’s all good. Still, I couldn’t believe that he would be thinking about those stupid boys months after they startled me.

I repeated to Teddy that I wasn’t hurt by those boys yelling something mean to me; that even though they were mean to me, I wasn’t mean to them in return (as if I had the chance to be). He just repeated that he wanted my hair to be regular again.

The whole hair thing has been such an interesting part of this journey. It has meant so little to me, yet, I think, so much to other people. Then again, I know I was in a different position than those people because they could see my hair (or lack thereof) and, aside from the few minutes a day that I see myself in a mirror, I could not. On a deeper level, however, I was relatively unaffected by people's curious stares or repeated glances because all they were seeing on my head was the truth – I had cancer and my medicine killed my hair. If they happened to find that interesting, so be it. I really didn't care.

Now that my hair is back but still short, I’m enjoying the fact that it’s so easy to style in the mornings. I love that it doesn’t get in my way when I exercise and it’s never hanging in my face when I'm at work. It’s just there – plain and simple – and most days, I expect that I’ll keep it short. I think to myself, Why would I want to waste a precious minute on my hair every morning? I'd rather write or read a Clifford book to Annabel one more time. 

Then, some days, I think about how awesome it would feel to grow my hair out long. My hair has come back thick and curly and since I have had thin, straight hair for so many years, a new style sounds fun. But I always seem to end up back at the fact that there are so many things I’d rather spend my time on than my hair.

Enter Teddy and his thoughts on the matter. Do I owe it to him to be “regular”? Are his friends teasing him about his mother with a boyish haircut? Should I protect him from that? Or should this be the first in a long series of lessons about acceptance and diversity? I have no clue.

Last night I didn’t get home until a few hours after the kids went to bed. I stayed late at work for the second of our Writing Saves Lives board meetings and when the kids called my office after school, Teddy asked me why I would be home late. I told him that I had a meeting with a group of my friends and Uncle Sean to talk about writing. He said he wanted to write a story and Brian agreed to help him do so that night. Since Brian is Brian, he followed through on this plan and a few hours later, just before I went into the meeting, I received the following “story” over email. Brian swears that he didn’t give Teddy a prompt and that he didn’t edit a word (apparently Teddy even chose the title). Brian claims that he simply transcribed exactly what the little lad dictated to him.

Aside from the fact that Teddy has grouped several different events (for example, our April trip to Bowdoin and the Memorial Day cookout with our neighbors) into a short span of a few days, his story is otherwise, pretty right on. In fact, if I had to write about some of the happiest times I have had in the last month, my story would look a heck of a lot like his.

“Me and My Mommy Love Each Other”

Mommy and I were playing.

Mommy and I were playing together and then we came inside.  We wanted to do something else, so we went to the bead store.

At the bead store, we bought all different kinds of beads.  Gaga went with us.  We bought blue, pink, green, and orange beads.

We went home and went to a cookout at Max and Penny’s house. I played with Annabel, Max, Declan, Jonathan, and Matthew.

Mommy and I went golfing. When we finished golfing, we went over Gogo and Gaga’s house.  And then we came back home and played basketball.

My mommy is the best basketball player. 

Mommy and I had dinner. Then we had our cookout.  After the cookout (after some of the people left), my friends and I played.  Me, Maggie, Huck, Brendan and Dean played cooking.  And then I went to bed.

The next day, Mommy and I went on vacation to a cookout up in Bowdoin.  Mommy talked up in Bowdoin.  Before we went to our hotel, we went with Gogo and Gaga to lunch.  And then after we went to our lunch, we went to our hotel.  The rooms were very nice.  On Friday night we went to a cookout that Mommy talked in.  We then went back to our hotel and went to sleep.

The next day, me and my Daddy went to a Bowdoin College lacrosse game.  Then we picked up Mommy and went to get some lunch.  Then we went back to our hotel.  The next day we went home.

At home, I played with Huck and I just want to say hi to my friends again. And then we played a lot.

Me and Mommy relaxed after that busy, busy vacation.  And we watched Dinosaur Train because I (Teddy) love Dinosaur Train.  And I love Mommy.

The End

In the end, Teddy's story didn't help me with all of the confusing parenting questions that have popped up recently. But it did help me realize this – as long as I continue to play sports with the kid and keep on bringing him to cookouts, my haircut is a small and irrelevant detail. 

*  *  *

An After-Thought:  I wrote most of this post on the train to work today. When we pulled into South Station, I stepped onto the platform smiling about my adorable little boy. Then I got a text from our wonderful babysitter telling me that Teddy had been a total pain in the ass since I left and he had even convinced Annabel to join in his annoying disobedience (OK, she said it much nicer, but I know that's what she meant). I ended up yelling at Teddy over the phone as I walked to work; tossing out empty threats about losing baseball because I couldn't think of anything else to say and because I was so frigging mad. Anyways, I figured if I was going to mention truth even just once in this post, I had to give a fuller picture of life with a five year old. I am certain that every parent out there knows exactly how "full" that picture can sometimes be. 

1 comment:

  1. As someone who has fought the hair struggle their whole life I can tell you that when you are comfortable with your look, beauty exudes from within. I was teased my whole life for my hair, from comments about whether I was a boy or a girl to "number 9 is a d..." spray painted all over the soccer field in HS. I was kicked out of a wedding party because I refused to grow my hair longer and about six months ago a former HS classmate who got in touch with a sibling and saw my picture on FB said, "she's married, she still looks gay." I can't speak about how you feel when your son questions it, but if you like it rock it. You are doing a great thing by giving your son an early education about stereotypes. And honestly, I think you look gorgeous with short hair, not many women are blessed to wear it like you!!!!