Hair Up by ChildGrower Annita Woz.


My six-year old thinks that Mohawks are “cool” and he has asked me ever since school began to give him one.

Just a fake mohawk, just for the day, not a hair cut, just some hairspray and hand shaping to make it stick up.

He notices hair on big boys and lately, we have seen more mohawks than ever. Some are even blue. Some are really pointy, somewhat impressive in height to those easily impressed.

I don’t know when boys started “doing their hair”. But they are doing it.

We’ve also marveled together at the hybrid hawk as we call it.  No hair is cut at all,  but instead it is plastered forward, like rolling fields of wheat, and instead of ending in a point in the center of the forehead, it somehow weaves to the side, as though a strong wind took hold on the bike ride to school.

He asks for the hairdo frequently, especially after he’s been in the bathtub with sudsy very formable hair.  He can sort of see it of in the reflection of the tub faucet and asks me to go get the mirror so he can admire himself.

I’m okay with a mohawk in the tub.  So is Dad.

However, Dad is not so keen on a mohawk outside of the house. He probably feels about as comfortable with this as he does with boys wearing fingernail polish. Even black.

Dad extends this same aversion to a boy piercing one ear and he advocates a no-longer-than-the-collar rule for the boy in his house. He models a common haircut that we saw on the wrestling team at the high school,  short on top, even shorter on the sides, a cut that is easy to wash and wear after a tough practice.

My little guys reminds me two minutes before it’s time to head to school that he has a need for a mohawk today. His new friend Collin has never worn a mohawk and he explains how he is going to show him how it’s done by sporting one today.

Today is the day.  As a parent I want to raise confident kids and reluctantly I admit to myself this mohawk is giving me just what I’ve been asking for.  Moms be careful what you wish for. 

I hesitate.  This is the same boy who does not “do” his hair in the morning but will sometimes catch a glimpse of himself in the review mirror as he exits the carpool to the sidewalk and gasp when he sees he has some bed head. Just short of a panic, he freezes and wrestles with the worry of going in or just going home. He is red-faced and worried about getting laughed at? about someone noticing him?

In desperation to be rid of the offensive strands,  he pats his head repeatedly with the palm of his hand. He has been known to try the spit and stick method to get the offending rooster tail to flatten. He winds up the worry,  starts turning circles and gets into his whiny voice that is actually hard to understand as it is a combination of snorts and grunts of frustration interspersed with words like, “silly”, “lay down” and “I cannot…” It is at this point that I make eye contact with the older siblings telling them not to laugh.

Then all three of us start lying.

“It looks fine.”

“I cannot even see it.”

“Your friends will not even notice.”

A tantrum for bed-head, but a mohawk is okay?

I wonder how much effort I should put in to making the mohawk, knowing that I might very well be the one who has to get out on the sidewalk and make it go away if he catches sight of himself in the review mirror today.

I dip into the product, putting in some thick pasty stuff that hardens to cement strength.  With my hands on his little head, I form it as best as I can and flatten down the parts by his ears.  He is in heaven! He giggles and struts and then runs back to the bathroom mirror to check himself out. He carefully judges the height and marvels at all the bottles that it takes to create a hair sculpture.

He gets into the car, grinning from ear to ear. The sisters nod their heads, raise their eyebrows, but chime in convincingly with some “Wows” and “Coool,” when I give them the c’mon, go along with this head tilt.

We arrive at the school. He looks out the window to see the friend he wants to impress but we are a bit late due to the doo.

He sits back down firmly in his seat. There is no one to carry his excitement. He has no sidekick to give his look credibility. He looks at me with his hand midair, wrestling with himself. Should I flatten it? He rolls his eyes in worry.  But isn’t it so cool? His eyes dart from the rearview mirror to the schoolyard, seeking confidence from somewhere, someone. The work of art on his head is as solid as when we left home.

He announces he will not go in unless his sister goes with him.

Delighted to be a star of the moment, this classic middle child of mine leaps at the opportunity to be wanted,  to be the rescuer of her little brother. In her best and most tender voice, she announces “C’mon. I’ll walk right beside you! It will be okay.”

Together, they evaluate the hair one more time, grin with satisfaction at the feat they are about to undertake and rush headlong and hair up, into the school.

### for EmpoweringParents blog, by Annita Woz. October 1, 2009.


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