Last night, my wife got a text from her ex. A photo captioned “this just happened” gleefully chirped into her Inbox. We were settled in for the night, Netflix up and running, Stranger Things queued up for a binge. Jen opened up her text and looked at me sheepishly out of the corner of her eye. “Before I show you this, let me know go ahead and say that you were right,” she said. I rubbed my hands together in anticipation. Me, right? I’m always ready to see an example of that.
Jen handed me the phone and silently waited for my reaction. It was a photo of Mia, cheesing away proudly. At first I didn’t see anything out of the ordinary, so I squinted and zoomed, searching for another missing tooth (her front two are both gone so that wasn’t a new development), and wondering what it was I had been so right about. Then I saw it. A cluster of hair on the front of her head, about two inches long now, sticking straight up from her head. Our child had given herself a haircut.
I stifled a gasp that was mixed with a choked laugh and managed an “Oh, no” before gloating. A couple of months ago, Mia went on a spree of cutting her Barbie’s hair. I made a passing comment that we might want to consider either limiting scissor privileges or insisting she only use her “kid scissors” while supervised before she runs out of Barbies and decides to experiment on herself. Jen whipped her head around and looked at me in horror.
As a self-proclaimed tomboy, playing hair salon with your own locks isn’t something that had ever crossed her mind. I, on the other hand, have a vivid memory (or just possibly an imprint of the story because my mom has told it so many times) of my own attempt at self-styling that resulted in my first and only bowl cut. I’ve seen gotten better with the shears. Just ask my college roommates and their temporary bangs. It’s a right of passage after all.
This haircut was the main event that had culminated after a slew of opening acts, including a classroom wide thieving epidemic and some furniture graffiti that have resulted in a ban of both Barbies and “grown-up” (read: permanent) markers. A class full of girls who swipe each other’s Dollar Store bracelets and a chest of drawers covered in abstract artwork are just two more examples of the ways Mia and the rest of her first grade peers are trying to exert some sense of control, and as frustrating as it is, I’m secretly here for this early onset boldness and rebellion.
In a world where we’re told to look a certain way, color between the lines, and obey without asking questions, I can’t help but smile internally every time this little firecracker asks “Why?” before following instructions. At least three times a week, Mia laments over why she always has jobs to do, which is how she sees brushing her teeth and getting dressed on command. And while it’s not exactly the same as the fact that we really just need to get out the door for a soccer game, it doesn’t seem like a far journey to what motivated me to quit my 9-5 office job and pursue a lifestyle where I can be my own boss.
Rules are rules, and we’ll of course be telling Santa not to bring an American Girl doll down that chimney in December if these scissor hands don’t get a little less enthusiastic. But I’ll admit, I can’t wait to see what this little girl can do when she spreads her wings, and I hope she asks why every time someone tries to stop her.
In what ways have your kids tried to rebel? How do you react? Sound off in the comments!
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