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Help! My Kid Wants Blue Hair

Tips on handling this and other tricky parenting dilemmas
Help! My Kid Wants Blue Hair

When my daughter Laura walks into church—or anywhere, for that matter—heads definitely turn. At 16, she's into wearing black: black fingernail polish, long black skirts, clunky black boots, black stockings, black shirts. If it's cold outside, a black sweatshirt. Her accessories are simple: a ring on every finger, a choker around her neck made of miniature handcuffs, assorted rings in her ears … and a diamond stud in her nose. For variety, she pairs a purple Willy Wonka T-shirt with whatever pants or skirt she happens to step on in her closet. When she's "retro," her footwear of choice is orange suede sneakers. A Crayola Crayon backpack, triangle bandana, and a pair of '50s-style sunglasses complete the outfit.

The best thing I can say about this incarnation of my daughter is that at least she's out of her grunge phase with t-shirts down to her knees, khaki pants big enough for three sumo wrestlers, and two-toned hair. She'd wanted one of the tones to be blue, but after much discussion, she compromised with blond stripes in her dark brown hair. She looked like a skunk, but at least it wasn't blue.

The first time she wore her new look to church, several older ladies took me aside. I froze, terrified at what they might say. One of them patted my arm and told me, "Don't worry, honey. It could be worse." I took great comfort in those words.

It's hard, isn't it? One day you're presented with a naked newborn and for the next 10 years or so you get to dress her however you like. I always loved putting Laura in dresses with big white collars and puffy sleeves. That's part of the fun of being a mom. But then your child grows up and exerts her individuality by dressing like everyone else her age. You have conversations in which she yells, "People have a right to be who they are!" To which you answer, "I agree, but why do you have to be who you are dressed like that?!"

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