Monday, February 23, 2015

The Complexity of Hair

The following column appears in the February edition of Chicago Parent.

My middle son’s hair sticks straight up. Jack often resembles one of those googly-eyed pencils you rub between your palms and the hair goes flying. My boy is a fantastic example of Dennis the Menace meets Andy Warhol.

For school pictures, I try my best to tame the wild beast. I load up on gel, blast the hair dryer, and implement that most time-honored mothering tradition of licking your hand and rubbing it across your kid’s scalp. A brief six to eight weeks later, the final results arrive: a classic photo of Jack looking like a deranged Muppet.

The thing is, I find it all rather funny. I don’t know if I am allowed to say that. In an era where so much emphasis is placed on building up kids’ egos and pretending that everybody is exactly the same, I am undoubtedly causing irreparable harm. After all, I have been pointing out Jack’s outlandish hair for the better part of nine years. People aware of this tell me constantly: “You are giving that poor child a complex.”

Sweet Jesus, NO. Not a complex.

Don’t complexes mean you will drop out of high school? Most serial killers have complexes, right? Complexes are the very reason nobody talks in elevators. WHAT IN THE NAME OF DR. SPOCK AND DR. PHIL HAVE I DONE??

Besides class photos, I rarely deal with Jack’s electric tresses. In the winter, hats exacerbate the situation, so I throw up my hands in merry surrender. I gleefully anticipate him coming home after a long day to reveal the glory of fourth grade hat head. One evening, I debriefed each of the kids on their day and Jack piped up:

"My teacher made me go to the bathroom and comb my hair."

I froze and panic set in. What kind of permanent psychological damage had been done because I failed to keep my kid’s hair under control? Was Jack mortified? Embarrassed? Did I need to investigate local therapists immediately? I asked what his response was.

He said he laughed.

Then he went to the bathroom and combed his hair. I asked if his teacher was angry about him being so askew. He said no. He said she was laughing, too.

I realized then that experts are idiots. There is basically nothing more hilarious than a nine-year-old with crazy ass hair, and the sooner the world recognizes this fact, the happier it will be. Jack, his teacher, and I all understand comic gold when we see it. But everyone else?

I think they might have a complex.


  1. Sweet Jesus, no....

    I wish I had crazy-ass hair. If left to its own devices, my hair would be plastered to my head and I would look like a boy. An ugly boy. With boobs. Or moobs.


  2. Crazy ass hair and a good poop joke or fart noise!

  3. I always buzz my boys' hair, until they hit teenage-dom and exclaim that mom haircuts 'are not good enough.' Then, I just cringe and duck my head when we walk into church and they have hair sticking up all over. At some point they have to do it themselves, right?

    1. I've got the HUSBAND who won't let me buzz the kids' hair. What the heck?? I'm thinking they'll get it right by the time they start losing it.