My son and I have engaged in a power struggle over his long sun-streaked tresses for as long as I can remember.
Saxon hates brushing (more on that in ). Always has.
Every morning is a battle.
“Did you brush your hair?” I ask. He waves an Ouchless brush through a few strands and caps his wild mane.
“I’m a surfer, Mom,” he shrugs, when I go ballistic.
Six-dollar barber shop trims don't cut it for this kid. He has his own , also a surfer, who charges top dollar to snip a thimbleful of Saxon's hair twice a year.
Saxon's hair is a huge part of his identity. Every day when we pull up to Fisher, he shakes his wild mane, then flips his bangs, perhaps to conjure some Justin Bieber mojo before facing the middle-school masses.
That's why when he announced he wanted to shave his head, I freaked.
The cause—, which raises money for kids' cancer research—was certainly worthy, but really? I love his bushy blonde hairdo. It's straight out of a Beach Boys' song.
Then I realized, he's 13 and it's his hair so we penciled St. Baldrick's Day on the calendar.
Soon after his decision I noticed Saxon started brushing even less frequently. I continued to hassle him. Then ski week arrived with its many freedoms—no homework, no bedtime enforcement, and no contact with the Ouchless brush whatsoever.
On the first day back to school I was about to climb on my grooming soapbox, but then I thought better. Saxon had been begging to grow dreadlocks forever, and if ever we were going to let him go for it, now was the time. The hair was all coming off in a month anyway. So I stopped nagging and he stopped brushing all together.
After the first week his mop looked unruly as usual.
By the second week, with a little twisting help from Saxon, baby dreads started forming.
Around Day 10 a lovely “There's Something About Mary’’ piece cropped up in front.
Before I knew it his matted blond hair rested on top of his head like clumps of Shredded Wheat.
Not everyone was attracted to the blonde rastafari/Santa Cruz surfer look.
“Gross!” said the producer of the. “Just GROSS! TOTALLY GROSS.”
By the third “gross” I wanted to break her leg—and not in the metaphorically good-luck show biz way. Sure, Saxon's head was starting to resemble a serious rat's nest ... but it was MY kid's rat's nest, thank you very much.
Then I saw him up on stage with his disheveled blonde mane, resembling an escapee from an '80s hair band and I wanted to disappear under my folding chair. If other parents were disgusted, what must his teachers think, I wondered. Probably that I was one bad checked-out mama, especially in the personal hygiene department. No really! I wanted to shout from my seat. I love my child!
Thankfully friends helped me see the humorous side.
“Do you think Locks of Love takes ratty dreads?” I joked to my yoga buddy Cindy.
“No,” she said, “but Taitem wants Saxon's hair to make wigs for her Monster Hi Dolls.”
A week before the event my son went into overdrive collecting donations from family, friends and neighbors. He came home one day and uttered the words I thought I'd never hear. “My hair is really bugging me. I can't wait to shave it off.”
Before we knew it, St. Baldrick's Day arrived. When I walked into the gym on Friday, the kids were so pumped they were bouncing off the bleachers.
Next to Saxon sat 36 other kids (including two girls, Gillian Yost, a classmate since first grade and Ali Fox, a three-time shavee; and Matthew Briski, who lost his sister Alexis, a beloved Fisher Middle School sixth-grader to cancer two years ago.)
Tears slipped down my cheeks as Alexis' dad Kael spoke to the students along with ' mother Christy, (so gorgeous she puts J.Lo to shame), both epitomizing grace and perseverance.
When it was Saxon's turn, I watched riveted. One stool over Ben Clayville, who lost his mom Holly less than a year ago and together with his siblings raised almost $40,000 for the event, sat stoically as the barber buzzed away.
As for Saxon, he was bald in less than two minutes. It was strange to see his hair, a source of such consternation, something that held such power, swept away in the blink of an eye. That's when it hit me how silly I was to have made such a big deal over this temporary thing called hair but what a huge difference shaving it off could make in someone else's life.
My son returned home from school elated. “I felt proud of myself for volunteering and a ton of girls told me I look better bald!” he chattered excitedly. “Plus I have three teachers—Mr. Ferdette, Siebenthal, and Joanides—I'm gonna be bald with.”
Saxon can't stop caressing his chrome dome—“It feels just like our mohair sofa!”—but try as he might he's finding it difficult to execute his customary Justin Bieber flip. I wonder: is there such a sensation as a phantom mane?
For the record, I snatched up one of his dreads for prosperity. Later when I pulled the furry knot from the bag, he gasped in horror. “GROSS!” he said.
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