Monday, August 18, 2014

I love you(r hair)

In the town where my husband grew up and his parents still live, everyone has straight hair. No, that's not true. Everyone who's anyone has straight hair. If you have curly or frizzy or unruly hair, you're either late for your hair appointment, or you're just not that important.

The first few times my mother-in-law suggested I go with her to get my hair blown out, I declined. It just seemed like a strange thing to do, and I didn't want her taking responsibility for my grooming. When she kept asking (prodding, nagging, insisting) over the years, my husband convinced me to go along with it. "It makes her happy to do something for you," he said. So I would get in the car with my mother-in-law and drive to the beauty parlor. I'd let her hairdresser trim and straighten my hair, and she would pay the bill, as though I were her teenage daughter. I would say thank you, and then I'd spend the rest of the weekend fitting in without any curly locks to reveal my ultimate unworthiness.

A few years ago, I found a hairdresser at home who I really like. I started having her color my hair regularly, and I happened to start wearing it straight more too. My mother-in-law stopped inviting me to the salon during our visits. She'd check out my head, nod approvingly, and leave on her own for her biweekly coiffing.

I could laugh it off if it had stopped there. If "hair checks" were just about making sure I met her standard of beauty, I could let it go. Then my son started getting hair checks.

My son -- my wonderful, unique, brilliant, and creative son -- has severe ADHD. He's depressed. He has low self-esteem. He also has long, wild hair that he loves. And my mother-in-law started giving him hair checks. She took to dragging him for a haircut every time she saw him. She'd visit us at our home and take him for a haircut. We'd visit her at her home, and she'd take him for a haircut. Finally, during our visit this weekend, we'd had enough. We told her no haircut. He likes his hair. We like his hair. And we like him. No haircut.

We may as well have said he's not allowed to eat. We may as well have dropped him off at the play area in the mall and picked him up eight hours later. My sister-in-law was so disgusted with us, she stormed out. My mother-in-law said we're ruining his self-esteem by not encouraging proper grooming. From what I hear, there was a big family confrontation about us when we were already in the car, well on our way home.

First thing this morning, we had an appointment with our son's therapist. She said what she always says to him when we walk in: "I love your hair."

 

28 comments:

  1. Seems to me the only people ruining his self-esteem are those who can't accept his hair as it is. It's a shame that can't see beyond the surface.

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    1. I agree 100%. Thanks for your comment. :)

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  2. I'm sure your son appreciates your support and that will mean the world. My sons grew out their hair a few different times and some family members told them they looked like girls. :( . They eventually decided to cut it when it became annoying to them to take care of.

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    1. Thank you, Marcy! Family members sure can have a way of "helping" that doesn't much seem to help.

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  3. As someone who adores curly hair, your mother-in-law and I would have had words. Extended family is hard enough without forced conformity!

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    1. Yes, family can be tough, in so many ways.

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  4. Wow, sounds like your in-laws have a strong sense of.... Uniformity? Besides, throughout my life, I've probs had at least 10 different ways to comb my hair. It shouldn't be something you stick with for life. If anything, that sounds... well, boring really.
    Thanks for sharing. And kudos to your son, and his hair! ^_~

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    1. Yup, it's their way or the highway, in many areas. Thanks for reading!

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  5. Poor kid! And poor you. That's ridiculous. I balk at any forced conformity but that is just plain cruel. Kids should have rules and all that, but there are some things that are harmless that they should be free to choose for themselves...like a hairstyle. It's not like he showed up with a green mohawk, but you know, I almost would, just to make a point ;-) My mother-in-law recently complained that I and my son don't pronounce our words properly (she's from England). She didn't get very far with that! I'm sure your son really feels secure knowing you will stand up for him.

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    1. Hmm, I'm liking this green mohawk idea.

      You were told you don't pronounce your words properly? I would have given her an earful on that one!

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  6. In-laws can be such a nightmare at times and I absolutely loved your line about you having your hair paid for as if you were a teenager. Somehow their intentions come from a good place, but have got so lost along the way! I hope that you are all well and living happy hairy lives. Really good read and I enjoyed how you managed to interject humour at points, despite the serious underlying messages.

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    1. "Their intentions come from a good place, but have got so lost along the way." That is exactly right. I know they're only trying to do what they think is best.

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  7. cleary i'm unworthy and not important enough to go to their town. and i think i'm okay with that...especially if that means no contact with people like your in-laws. yeesh. it's HAIR. but i do totally get it b/c my mother in law is constantly scoping out my 4yo's hair. drives me NUTS. whatever. SO glad you guys finally told her ENOUGH. i was really hoping for a pic of your sons hair though. :)

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    1. Oh, that would have been good to add a picture! Why didn't I think of that?

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  8. Lovely story! Well-written, flows nicely, AND a happy ending. Nice job!

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  9. A perceptive take on the current peception that we all need to be the same to 'fit in'. That we need to be some generic bland clone of one another, like we've come from an assembly line. We were meant to be different. How boring would the world be if everything was the same. I'd rather live in a world where we are who we are. Plus I love curly hair!

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    1. I love curly hair too. Strangely, I was just at the salon yesterday and heard a very similar story reenacted by a mom and her early teen daughter. The mom introduced her curly-haired daughter to the stylist as "Mufasa" and complained about the daughter's impossible hair right in front of her! I couldn't keep my mouth shut. I told the daughter I loved her hair. :)

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  10. Now I remember that there are good reasons we moved thousands of miles from all family connections... :) I love the message of "do what works for us."

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    1. Some distance can be very helpful. Thanks for your comment!

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  11. Thank heaven for therapists. It's a pity they can't work on family with an exaggerated need for everyone to be the same.

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  12. Lovely piece of triumph! I love stories of championship, especially one between a DIL and MIL! Awesome read!

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  13. Love this, love this!! Yes to wild frizzy hair!! Yes to long hair on boys!! Thank you, thank you!

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  14. First, this is so well written. Second, I've encountered weird hair stories lately! I discovered there is a pastor, devoted to patriarchy, who advises all women to make their hair wavy in order to divert men's attention from their bodies. I suppose hair issues are as old as the Bible. But geez...

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    1. Thank you for the compliment! How strange about the pastor. People definitely have some weird ideas.

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