Once upon a few years ago my tween asked me if she could dye her hair. I said no. The end. But then …

Hey there, awesome readers!

When people first meet me they’re always surprised by my age. If you don’t know me in real life, I’m pulling 40.

Note from the Hamster: Liar! You’re pushing 50!

Then they’re surprised to find out that I’m a mother to four kids – two in their mid to late 20s and two teenagers.

Note from the Hamster: Don’t be delusional. The only reason why they’re surprised is because you’re ridiculous. And by default, mothers are a lot of things; none of them being ridiculous.

Note to the Hamster: Shut. Up. Are you writing this post or am I?!!

All that to say that I’m a veteran mom with lots of real life experience and hands-on practice in dealing with the “whys” of parental decisions.

Except that …

The other day I was getting ready to put highlights in my hair when my youngest daughter – who is now 15 and a half – asked if I could highlight her hair as well. My first reaction was to say “no”.

But then I did something that no parent really feels comfortable doing: I over-ruled my own rebuff and gave in. (Precisely why I would have made a terrible lawyer. Also, I’ve never, ever used the word “rebuff” before. Just saying.)

So why did I rebuff my own decision, you ask? (Hmmmm. There’s that word again. Slightly less intimidating the second time around.)

Because thinking that I might have said no just out of habit, I took my daughter’s question (Can you put highlights in my hair?) and my response (No.) and twisted them around in my mind until they lined up like the sides of a Rubik’s Cube.

But guess what?

There was no lining up because there was no valid justification.

The real reason why I said no was because on some level I wanted to protect her. But protect her from what? I had no idea.

Note from the Hamster: Isn’t it obvious? We were trying to protect her from growing up.

Note to the Hamster: Okay. So you have a point. (For once.)

Although my kids like to think otherwise, I was 15 and a half at her age and from what I remember, being a teenager has more to do with being on the verge of life’s underbelly than anyone at that age even realizes. It’s like having one foot in a game of hopscotch while the rest of your body is being accosted by hormones and pimples and crushes so deep that you’re sure you’re going to die from a heartbreak before your next birthday; even if the other end of that crush doesn’t even know you exist.

But then I look at my daughter and her friends and I think, “y’all are so much smarter than I was at your age.” Once I even said it out loud but it just made them look at me with polite pity – as though I had just invited them to hang out with me at the mall. Because how could someone who’s … er, pushing 50 even remember what it’s like to be 15 and a half?

Trust me. I remember. Which is precisely the reason why my decision got rebuffed. Sadly, I can’t protect my kids from life. None of us can. Life wears the face of unpredictability every day. Imperfection is her nature. She will be kind. She will be a bitch. And as the gods know, she will forever be unfair. With all of our experience and hands-on practice, we know this. We are wise in the ways of life. And still we can’t protect our kids.

But we CAN pretend to be 15 and a half again while our teenagers pretend to be grown up. Because meeting in the middle is the perfect place for an afternoon of highlights – both for our hair and a shared moment in time.

Photo published with teen’s approval.

Photo published with teen’s approval.

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