It was a rather dreary Tuesday afternoon, late in the year when daylight was sparse. Christmas was still weeks away but reality remained vigilant that “Winter is coming." I picked up my kiddo after school and his mood seemed unusually aloof.
“Hey buddy, tell me about your day!" I asked, expecting his typical answers of “Good," followed by “But I forgot what I did…"
Instead, with a very red face and obvious reservations, he asked me this:
“Daddy, can I have blue hair?"
I practically slammed on the brakes, as visions of myself in high-school ransacked my brain. I recalled being steadily rejected for each of the piercings I wanted:
Ear ring? “Nope."
Nose ring? “Hell no."
Eyebrow ring? “PEOPLE PIERCE THEIR EYEBROWS?!"
And so on and so forth. My parents never allowed me to adorn my body how I chose, so I had to be sneaky. To this day, they have no idea that I pierced my nipples when I was 17 (still are). It was my body, and I wanted to express myself the way I wanted.
Now my kid, significantly younger than I was then, is requesting his own individuality.
Honestly, I lit up at the idea.
Prior to this moment, I witnessed many of his soccer teammates with various rainbow colors of hair. Apparently it had become a trend and my son wanted to put his own spin on it.
I replied “Buddy, that's fine with me, but we have to run it by your other dad." I secretly knew he would be fine with it, but had to ask out of respect.
We called 'O'Daddy' (side story: when Briggs was 2, he couldn't say the words “other Daddy," so my then-spouse became O'Daddy, which, let's face it, is adorable) and he was extremely supportive. I did a U-turn and headed straight to the closest Target.
Awestruck, I perused the options when we encountered the hair dye aisle. When I was a teen, you had two choices if you wanted unusual hair: Manic Panic or Kool-Aid. Today, there is a broad spectrum of colors to select from–a virtual Crayola box of hues.
I knew that experimenting with my own hair during my teen “rave years" gave me a level of expertise that assured his dye job would look professional. His haircut was already badass–the modern skater cut. So I surmised which direction to go to make him look killer.
And then I warned him. At Target. “We have to bleach your hair first, bud."
I'm well-aware now that he had no idea what bleach even was, but I was fully invested in the procedure and we weren't cutting any corners.
He chose a shade of blue that I can only describe as “Smurf." There were several others–including a breathtaking cerulean that he quickly shunned to my dismay. I hastened to the check-out before he could change his mind, then spent the entirety of our trip home talking about how cool he would look.
Once back, I ripped open that box like it was a fabulous present. I emptied its contents on my kitchen counter and mentally prepared my son for the burning sensation he was about to feel on his scalp.
The bleaching went smoothly. He's a natural dark blond, so after 45 minutes it was platinum white. It was an exercise in patience for him because he had to literally sit still and not move (I loved that part). He complained about the burning, but it was mild. It really only itched him slightly.
And then came the blue. It looked as though I was applying octopus ink on his head, it was so dark and thick. “What the hell am I doing?" played through my mind like a broken record. I started thinking about possible repercussions, which at that point was way too late.
I combed the blue goo through and through, making sure it was an even hue. He remained calm for yet another 45 minutes before we were ready to rinse and reveal.
I should mention now that we did this in my kitchen, and my anal-retentiveness assured the process was hospital clean. Past experiences warned me that this could get very messy, which set off red flags to prevent any blue disasters.
The sink made for a perfect basin and I dunked his head back, hosing his scalp down like it had been on fire, rather than a gentle baptism.
And then…there he was. My son, the seven-year-old trendsetter, with shocking blue hair.
Briggs' new hairdo: regular, bleached, and "smurf"
I was so insanely proud.
He adored himself – bouncing all over the house finding all of the available mirrors and exclaiming “I've got blue hair, Daddy! I can't believe I have blue hair!!"
“Yes you sure do little man! Everyone is going to love it – I'm very pleased with your decision to do this..."
And I was. I ruminated afterwards, and realized we just endeavored a bonding experience. I can't imagine too many other fathers saying that they've bonded with their son over dyeing hair, but we sure the hell did.
I explained that some people might look at him strange, but he should just smile and ignore them. I loved telling him that. What a wonderful lesson to learn at such an early stage of life.
The next day, I made sure to color-coordinate his outfit so it wouldn't clash with the blue, and I sent him off to school, beaming with pride. Zero problems occurred. In fact, he was complimented all day and it boosted his confidence.
Over the next couple of months, the blue faded, his hair grew, and he got used to being stared at strangely in public. He's normally a very shy kid, so I noticed it helped him come out of his shell. His hair had become a natural ice-breaker, which was exactly what he needed.
Now his hair is back to his natural color – he still has that skater cut, but understands that Summer is not a good time for hair dye (the chlorine in pools would make it an uphill battle). Regardless, he still has the confidence he earned during the experience, which is priceless.
As far as this coming Winter? This time Daddy gets to pick, and we're going for that cerulean.
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