“Mama, can I have green hair for picture day?” my 4-year-old says in her sing-songy voice.
Normally, you’d expect this question from a tween or a teenager.
“Um, maybe like a braid or something would be good?” I say.
“Okay, Mama. But, I really wanna be pretty like you.”
Officially, my heart melted.
1. She wants to be like me. (I currently have green hair.)
2. She thinks her mom (me) is beautiful.
3. She thinks her mom (me) with green hair is beautiful.
I’m elated on all accounts.
Picture day in preschool is indeed looming.
The teachers have been talking about it, emailing about and even sticking stickers to our children’s clothes that read: PICTURE DAY IS TOMORROW. WEAR BRIGHT COLORS. WEAR YOUR SMILE.
We get the picture, it’s picture day. Mmkay?
Before the green hair request, I really hadn’t planned on making my daughter look different than any other day. I didn’t plan on a dress. I wasn’t gonna style her hair special. Who’s got time for all that? I was not about to wake up early on a school morning to do anything that involved primping. I gotta primp my own damn self (this involves swiping a deodorant stick across my stubbly pits).
It’s a miracle we get out of the house on time most mornings. Picture day would indeed look like any other day for my daughter: cotton Gap play clothes, a messy ponytail, stained socks and sneakers.
However, when my daughter asked for green tresses, I totally toyed with the idea of dying her hair. I mean, the sticker said, “WEAR BRIGHT COLORS,” right? Give her the green light? We still have the green Halloween hair spray-paint from last year in the closet. That would work, but it stains everything.
Okay, so then there’s option No. 2.
I have copious jars of Manic Panic sitting in my bathroom that I could use and just slightly dip her ends.
Did I mention my daughter is 4 years old?
Yes, dear readers, I know it’s a bit cuckoo to consider coloring my 4-year-old daughter’s hair any color, let alone crazy, I mean, vivid colors.
I get it.
But when your mini-me shows the desire to be you—and wants to copy you, especially with something so stylistically unconventional—you will swoon.
See, it’s one thing for my daughter to compliment me on my eyes or my blingy rings. But, it’s even better when she says, “Mama, I wike your wips!” And my lips are bright red.
Or “Mama, I wike your nails.” And my nails are blue or black.
Or “Mama, I wike your hearts,” and she’s pointing to my tattoo on my wrist.
In the suburban town where I live, these types of unconventional styles are pretty few and far between. It’s kind of a capris/yoga pants, flip-flops and vanilla anything kinda town. The only real “different” person she sees around here, is me—her own mother—and that other mom with purple hair and piercings at library story time last week.
So because my kid likes bright red lipstick, black nails and tattoos, does this mean I’ll consider giving into those requests as well? Abso-fuckin-lutely.
Okay, maybe no lipstick to school. We’ll save that for the weekends if she wants to experiment.
If I find time, I’d love to paint her nails black or blue.
And duh, fake tattoos only.
I come from a long line of creatively accepting mamas. My own mother let me go to school with multicolored pipe-cleaners in my hair (don’t ask), a jewel in the middle of my forehead (Gwen Stefani was my inspiration) and a spiky dog collar around my neck.
It was the fullest expression of myself at the time. My mom let me go for it 100 percent (sans desired piercings in tongue and lip).
Truthfully, if it weren’t for scary language in my daughter’s school handbook, I would totally color her hair and not think twice about it, but I’m choosing to pick my battles with these schools my kids attend. I don’t like everything they mandate. I feel most of it is bogus and stifles kids’ creativity. Let me say that again, most standard U.S. public schools educate our children out of creativity.
But, I feel strongly that I have to reward my 4-year-old daughter somehow for thinking about beauty in unconventional terms. Green hair could be just the start of her acceptance towards all different types of standards of beauty—different body types, different skin colors and different textures of hair.
I will reward her this weekend, after picture day. With green hair chalk and a camera. Chill out, green hair chalk washes out. We’ll gussy her up with green hair, and whatever the hell she wants, and take shameless selfies. All in the name of redefining beauty.