not everything is about you, LM

When I was about 8 years old, I had super-long hair. One day, I decided to have it all cut off, and when I came home, I went searching for my best friend to show her my new haircut. I was walking down our street when I saw my best friend’s sister. Who thought I was a new boy in the neighborhood.

I was quite traumatized at the time, and I’ve evidently been carrying that around with me for the last 30+ years, because when the Bee told me two weeks ago that she wanted to get a major hair cut, I froze inside. I debated telling her that story for a long time, but in the end decided not to—because not everything is about me, after all, except here on my blog.

I did tell her that she should wait until after her musical was over, since she was supposed to wear her hair in a bun for that. We were talking about it in the dressing room yesterday with the woman who was doing her hair, who told her that she would probably feel ten pounds lighter after she got all that hair cut off.

Today, I took her to get it chopped off. She donated a huge, foot-long braid to Locks of Love. Here’s the before

and the after:

This weekend I’ve been reading Anne Enright’s The Gathering, and was struck by this observation in the novel:

“They are surprisingly tall–eight-year-olds. They are surprisingly like real people. Of course your own babies are always real to you, they are all there from the word go, but even strangers’ children look like proper people by the aged of eight…”

My Bee is looking more and more like a grown-up every day, and this new hairstyle has hastened the process considerably. She and I went out for ice cream on Friday night, after her performance, and the ice cream stand at the end of our street was full of the sixth-grade stars of the show. It was fairly terrifying to be around that much hormonal tweener-dom, not least because I was sitting there with the Bee, who was drinking in the big-girl-ness of it all.

I need more than three years to get ready for that. Can’t I just go back to the time when an eight-year-old looked like a big girl to her? Can’t we regress to toddlerhood? I’m not ready for cell phones and boys hanging around on their bikes, and talking about how eating too much ice cream makes you fat.

As we walked home from the ice cream place, we talked about whether she would still be willing to go to the ice cream stand with me when she was in sixth grade, or if she would be wanting to hang out with her friends and talk about boys. She admitted that, while boys are gross now, she might want to talk about them when she’s in sixth grade, and would not want me around for that, and I told her that when I was in sixth grade, I talked to my friends about boys (“eww, Mom, gross!”), and that I didn’t want to talk to my mother about it either.

I also told her that she might decide that she liked girls instead, and that would be fine too, then we talked a little bit about the lesbians that we know, and how liking girls that way is just as normal as liking boys. She said it’s okay to have a little crush on someone when you’re in third grade, but not to really like them. I asked her if she had a crush on anyone and she hesitated, but then said no.

Ulp.

Today she’s playing dress-up with her brother. Tomorrow, she’ll be asking for the car keys.

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April 27, 2008. growing up.

9 Comments

  1. Sandra replied:

    When my kids were in elementary school, I used to want them to stay small. I really had a hard time with the idea that they were growing up. But now that they’re 12 and 15, I really like it. I love their growing independence, especially my older one, my daughter, who this weekend traveled all over the city alone on the subway for a variety of appointments while I was busy with my son. I’m still slightly nervous when she’s out at night, but overall it’s a good feeling, watching her become more self-sufficient.

    Wow, your daughter’s hair was really long! She looks great with her new haircut, and yeah, it makes her look a little older. Cute!

  2. chichimama replied:

    You are just far enough ahead of me to make me shudder. Will my newly six-year-old really be that big someday? Argh!

    Sounds like you are doing a great job. And I bet she talks to you about boys (or girls) in a few years, even if it is in a roundabout way…

  3. jackieregales replied:

    I’m with chichimama– my girls turn six next month and I’m not ready for them to be big girls! My daughter Lucy started wearing ponytails and headbands for the first time recently, and it’s amazing to me how much older it makes her look! I can’t handle it. Also, apparently some of the girls in their kindergarten class are saying they are in love with some of the boys. My heart stopped.

  4. Jennifer replied:

    I had my hair really short for a long time — I couldn’t be bothered to comb it & also I was in gymnastics, where my hair got in the way. Then one day when I was 13 or so I was in the hairdresser’s getting it trimmed and a customer came in and asked when my stylist would be done with “um, with that boy?” TRAUMA! I remember it very clearly so like you I think I’m still carrying that around!

  5. Procrastamom replied:

    The Bee’s hair looks beautiful! Nice cut!

    And take it from someone who’s in the middle of it all with tweens and teens…they may roll their eyes at you and not want to tell you their secrets, but they still love getting hugs, especially when no one else is watching.

  6. Anjali replied:

    I love reading these posts about the Bee growing up…Gives me an idea of what to look forward to (and what to shy away from)!

    Mira has hair as long as the Bee’s used to be. I wonder now, how long it will be that long before she, too wants a Big Girl Hairdo.

  7. jo(e) replied:

    it goes by sooo fast. My daughter graduates from college in another week ….

  8. bj replied:

    I just had this moment with my 7 year old (also with very long hair) who was wearing jeans a babydoll t-shirt, and I swear, she looked 17. It was freaky.

    I’m ready to let her grow up, because she’s turning into a fascinating person.

    (and, yes, I want to know how Bee decided to cut her hair. My daughter’s is as long as Bee’s, too, and she is no where near ready to cut it. I’m of mixed mind. It’s a pain to take care of. But, I come from an ethnic background where long hair in girls is a given, and hard to give up).

  9. Anthony Thompson replied:

    Poor kid – what a shame! : (

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