At some point in my childhood, my mother began coloring her hair. It was nothing unusual. Plenty of women do it, especially when they start going gray. Men do it, too. But I thought it was silly. Why not just go gray? So naturally, I tormented her. For years. Every time the subject came up. I told her she was vain. Ageist. Wasting money.

Later, people wanted me to color my hair. I was told to get highlights. Then I was told highlights would make me look old, and I should get lowlights. I never did either.

Let’s face it: I’m not a fussy kind of girl. I don’t wear makeup except for special occasions. I almost never use a blow dryer. I wear trousers in the winter so I don’t have to mess with stockings, and I wear dresses in the summer so I don’t have to coordinate an outfit. I’ve always thought natural was the way to go, and now that I’m going gray, I’m just pleased that it’s happening in fashionable streaks. Actually, I’m doubly pleased, because first, I don’t have to decide whether to dye my hair, and second, I don’t have to see my mother’s reaction to me dying my hair.

But today I crouched in my shower, my back stiffening, as I helped the Kid touch up the colored streaks I paid to have put into her hair a few weeks ago. She has wanted streaks since last summer, but was advised not to get them while she was swimming full-time, as the dye would wash out and the bleached area would turn green. Now that she’s not a year-round swimmer, she asked again if she could have streaks put in, and we agreed.

I might not have agreed if I had realized I’d have to re-dye the hair every few weeks. It’s a literal pain, though I imagine we’ll figure out a better system as time goes on. I can’t believe I’m spending time figuring out the best system for dying my daughter’s hair funny colors. It’s such a vain waste of money.

Parenting is a strange road.

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