Thursday, April 21, 2016

On the Color of My Hair

By: Susan

I got my first gray hair when I was twenty one.  I knew then that someday I would have a completely gray head.  I have never been comfortable with wearing too much make-up.  I feel like I am pretending to be someone else and everyone knows it.  I do admire women who have the patience and the talent to enhance their natural beauty and always look well-put together.  But I can't handle it.  I don't have the stamina for it.  In my thirties, the number of gray hairs became too many to just pull out and I had to make a decision about whether to color my hair or not.  My husband, who usually has no opinion about appearances, pointed out that since our children were very small, maybe they would want their mother to look young for a while longer.  I listened and for the next twenty five years I covered my grays with a color very close to my natural dark brown.  But as I said, I am not good with anything that requires maintenance and more often than not my roots would begin to show before I had a chance to buy another box of hair color.  Several times over the past few years I threatened to let my hair go gray but changed my mind as a special occasion or a work presentation came up.  This past Fall, I went to a convention in Minneapolis to be part of a roundtable with my writing partners and I did not color my hair in time! Once I had presented myself to strangers with gray roots growing, there was no going back.  

As my hair has turned completely natural, with lots of white around my face and salt and paper in the back, I have been getting compliments from friends and co-workers.  My friend Paulette, who is a beauty in her natural hair, made a point of telling me how much she liked my hair color.  Others that I usually don't interact with come up to me and say how beautiful my hair looks.  Even my mother, who is an expert in style and beauty, approves of my look.

The response from other Persian women, however, has been very strongly negative. With a great sense of concern friends pull me aside and tell me that I am too young to let myself go.  Those who haven't seen me for a while, cannot hide their shock. I am surprised at how comfortable people have felt letting me know of their disapproval.  All this has made me very curious.  What is it about my decision that is so upsetting?  I know that they truly care about me but could it also be a little bit about their own vanity?  Have I let the cat out of the bag that most Persian women are not naturally blonde? And they would probably look like me if they didn't dye their hair regularly? I promise I do not mean any offense.  I am no one to judge others.  As I said, I admire women who have take the time to enhance their beauty.  But this is me.  I like me this way.  And my husband and kids like me this way too. And that's all I care about. 

Thursday, April 7, 2016

Reserve Judgement by Carolyn

Last weekend I inadvertently traumatized my younger son, Kyle, who has just celebrated his 30th birthday. Here's how it came about . . .

A bunch of my family members had gathered to watch my great-nephew's soccer game. I was holding my grandson, Jude, who is 13 months old. He was very eager to get down and toddle around, which was not possible because of the soccer game in progress directly in front of us. I remarked that we needed a leash for him like the one I had used for Kyle when he was a toddler. When he overheard that, Kyle was incensed. "Mother!" he shouted. "How could you do that to me?"

I tried to calm him down. "Son. I was trying to keep you safe." Kyle was an energetic child, to say the least. He did not appreciate lounging in the comfort of a stroller. He wanted down. He was also an escape artist. He could wriggle out of the stroller straps in the blink of an eye. He was curious and fearless as well. He took off in a shot whenever he saw the least opportunity . . . down the street,  across the store, anywhere. (Actually, all of this is still true about him, even as an adult, although I haven't actually tried to keep him strapped in a stroller in many, many years.)

So, with the trouble I had keeping him contained (and with another son just 23 months older to also keep under control), in desperation I bought a leash especially created for children. I tried explaining that to Kyle last Saturday. "Son. It wasn't a dog leash. It was made to keep children safe." In spite of my explanation, he still seemed shocked and resentful. Discussing it at the soccer game reminded me of the affronted looks and snide remarks I used to get from other people when they saw me with my toddler son on a leash. Even with logical and valid reasons, there seems to be something innately shocking about the idea of having a child on a leash. I'm not sure why. We think it is perfectly fine to keep our dogs safe by using leashes. Shouldn't we be as careful with our children? Maybe we think it looks like we haven't successfully taught them to sit still and behave themselves if we resort to such measures. I freely admit I was not totally successful in that area when my children were toddlers. Toddlers are hard-wired to want to move around and explore.

Every few minutes for the duration of the soccer game, Kyle exclaimed, "Mother! Really! A leash?" or something similar. At one point, he launched into a discussion of how he was going to do it differently when (if) he has children. He told us he was going to discuss the need for safety with his toddler and use reasoning to keep his child safe instead of (gasp!) a leash. We all laughed heartily at those unenlightened remarks. We'll see.

After we all went our separate ways on Saturday, I was rather worried that Kyle was still upset over the whole incident. From listening to him that day, you would have thought that I had just informed him that we had found him living in a den with a pack of wolves when he was an infant and hadn't ever told him until just then. Fortunately, he called a couple of days later to chat. Before we got off the phone, he assured me that, while he had been surprised to be told of his time on a leash, he had mostly been exaggerating his horror to entertain the group. I breathed a sigh of relief. As a parent, you hate to think you have caused your child (even a grown child) horrible trauma. Just before we ended our phone conversation, I told him, "Well, if you decide you need therapy to get over this, I will pay for it." :)