At some point in the day, I took my young son (he's 5 believe it or not) to the pediatric clinic. He said his ear was bothering him and I had noticed some drainage the last few days. Long story short, he has tubes in his ears and spent the better part of his younger years not being able to hear which in turn caused a speech problem we are attempting to correct. My point is - we take his hearing and his ear health pretty seriously. I was praying they wouldn't tell me we needed another ear surgery (partially because of the pain for him and partially because I am still paying for some of the first surgery and all of the second one).
Andre and I headed into the house to prepare for his appointment (leaving his sister who is 6 and my husband outside to care for two very sick cows and do all of the farm chores for the day). Andre enjoys going to the clinic and even though he wouldn't be seeing his regular pediatrician or his ear surgeon, he felt it was a special enough occasion that he asked:
"Mom, can I have a blue mowhawk today?"
I didn't think much of it and agreed as long as he got dressed quickly and brushed his teeth. See - Andre has the type of hair cut that looks like a clean cut high and tight most days but with the right products can quickly convert to a cool mowhawk. I had always empowered the children to make their own choices. When they went for haircuts they were told "you tell them how you want your hair, it's your choice" and we would look through books and find what THEY liked and go with it. One day, my little princess with her long golden hair decided she wanted short hair and not long after, my little man with the military buzz cut decided he wanted a blue mowhawk. I'm not afraid to tell my children "NO" but hadn't I been the one empowering them all along to make their own decisions? Wasn't it just a hair cut? Why argue about hair when I could save my negotiating skills for future years when the questions sound more like
-can I get a tattoo?
-why can't I stay out until midnight?
-when can I get my naval pierced?
-why won't you buy me beer and cigarettes?
-what's wrong with having unprotected sex?
|This is us - thanks Oh! Photography|
|My princess with her short "do"|
I talked to the hair dresser(s) and we came up with a suitable solution. My daughter has a lovely little pixie style cut that works with her curls and brings out her big blue eyes and my son has a mowhawk that washes out and is modest and low key for church and other times when a mowhawk may not be appropriate (caroling at the nursing homes for instance).
I really believe in offering people (even children) choices. I could tell you it's because having a say in things makes you feel good about yourself, but ultimately I think too many people go through life unable to make choices and they go along with things they shouldn't. Call it peer pressure if you like, but choices are empowerment and the ability to make good choices means less worry for me as a mom.
Andre and I left the clinic and we were waiting for his prescription to be filled. (We live in the country so going home for 20 minutes then turning around and coming back is not an option.) We headed to a local restaurant. I gave Andre two choices that were suitable to my mood and pregnancy cravings and he chose the restaurant. Most people commented on how cute his hair was and our waitress said something interesting "I really like your hair, but I'd never let my son do it. I would be embarrassed to be seen in public with him" Andre thanked her for the compliment and didn't seem to notice that it wasn't really much of a compliment at all and I just smiled as my well-mannered "date" pulled out my chair, ordered my drink, and engaged me in fabulous conversation. Part of me wanted to ask the waitress if her son was embarrassed to be seen in public with her since her three teeth were stained yellow and her hair looked unwashed ... but I put on my big girl panties and reflected before reacting.
|Andre with his stylist and friend, Stephanie!|
It's really about choices again, isn't it? She made a choice to tell her son "no" and for whatever reason she wouldn't feel comfortable going in public with him if he got a particular hair cut. I've made a choice to allow my children to decide what they want to look like. Andre went to school with different shoes on because he thought it was cool. He did that once and hasn't asked again. I didn't ask what his motivation was or what changed his mind, I just let it be. He felt great when he left the house with a red shoe on his left foot and a blue shoe on his right. Some days my children wear socks that match but more days than not, their socks are different styles, shapes, and colors (truth be told, sometimes they wear each others socks). They've even gone to school without wearing underwear - that also was short lived (especially after Andre's zipper incident but I'll let him tell that story himself someday).
What choices do you make for others when you wouldn't have to? What choices do others make for you that you would prefer to make for yourself? What choices do you make because you fear the reaction of others? There's no right or wrong here - I am certainly no mother of the year and I'm just doing what works for our little family so feel free to pipe in with your ideas and stories - I'd love to hear from you!
May your paths be abundantly filled with lemons, sugar, sunshine, and so many choices that you're bursting at the seams with excitement!!