Lessons on Gray Hair & Karma

It all started when I found a gray hair in my ski helmet.

My response was completely rational.

“Who has been wearing my ski helmet?” I asked my husband who responded by laughing at me and telling me that the one in the helmet had some friends. On my head.

So I made an appointment to get my hair colored. I would have to wait eight weeks for my appointment. Okay, fine. Whatever. Make me suffer. Fine.

Not my child, but doesn't he look sad?

On the day of my appointment, Monkey was barfing. I mean power-puking. It was crazy.

I had a twenty minute drive to make it to the salon on-time. I couldn’t believe it. In the almost twelve years he has lived on this planet, my child has probably missed two days of school due to illness, total.

Monkey laid on the couch with a blue bucket at his side.

I looked at my watch. I thought about what I should do.

I sighed, realizing I had to do it.

I had to go to the salon.

(For God’s sakes, I had eight weeks of roots! Don’t judge me!)

“Monkey, I said. “I have to go out.”

He nodded and gripped the toilet.

“Here’s the phone,” I said, putting the cordless at his feet. “You know my number, right?”

He nodded.

The wintry roads were slippery, but still I zoomed off to Isobel. Pulling into the parking lot, I heard my phone ring. I checked to be sure it wasn’t Monkey. (It wasn’t.) I ran into the salon where Michael, the owner, welcomed me with a firm, “You’re five minutes late. Did you see I called you?”

I explained to Michael that I was the worst mother in the world. That I had left my barfing, sick child at home to get my highlights done. And Michael agreed, I was a pretty bad mom. But seventy-five minutes later, my hair was perfect. I paid for a job well-done and zoomed home.

While sitting at a stoplight approximately one minute from my house, my phone rang. “You left your wallet wide-open on the desk at the salon,” said Stephanie, a stylist at Isobel.

“Are you serious?” I asked, knowing, of course, she was serious.

I turned my car around and headed downtown. Again. Somehow, I got lost. I don’t know how I got lost, but I did. Maybe it’s because the entire city was cloaked in white so I took a wrong exit. Then, there were no discernible signs only lumpy shapes. Whatever. I finally made it to the salon and pulled my car right up to the door. It wasn’t really a parking space, per se – but I figured I was running in for two seconds and running back out. I had to get home to Monkey.

I turned off the ignition, opened my door, swung my clunky boots around, when – suddenly and simultaneously – the entire car shook and I heard a loud thunk-crunch. Turning my head, I saw another vehicle had smashed up against my rear bumper. (This was soooo not my day.)

And that’s when I noticed him. Looking to be about twenty years old, and wearing sagging jeans and a hoodie, he shuffled around to survey the wreck. “Ohhhhh mannnnn.” The guuy who had just plowed into my car spoke very slowly, like the way Spicoli spoke in the movie Fast Times at Ridgemont High. (For you young’uns out there, Spicoli was a major stoner.)

Not the real cars involved.

I drive a Honda Pilot. My vehicle is tall and black (and currently filthy). It’s not fancy, but it is tough. I looked closely at my bumper, which had absolutely no evidence of damage. Spicoli drove a kind of small, purplish (and might I add uber feminine) Hyundai which now had a dimple in it. And by “dimple,” I mean, his car was crushed like a paper fan.

“Thiiiiiis suuuucks,” Spicoli said, pulling the flaps of his Guatemalan hat down over his ears. He looked distressed. “Man,” says Spicoli. “I’ve had like… two other accidents in the last six months… I don’t want my insurance to go up any higher.”

“Well,” I said, trying not to sound too impatient, “there is no damage to my car, so we don’t have to report it.”

Spicoli looked confused.

I told him I was going into the salon for a minute and that when I came out, he could tell me what he wanted to do. At last, I dashed into the salon and grabbed my wallet. Michael made some pithy joke at my expense, but I was already gone.

“So…um…” Spicoli stuttered, “if you are okay with it, can we not report this?” Spicoli asked. “I mean, my car is totally drivable.”

I nodded in agreement. Then Spicoli apologized, shook my hand, and told me I seemed like a nice lady.

Meanwhile I thought guiltily: Nice ladies don’t leave their sick children at home while they have their hair done.

I drove home carefully, certain that every police officer was out, ready to give me a ticket. And when I was pulled over, I would have to confess that my 11 year old was at home, alone and sick. And then Monkey would be hauled off to Child Protective Services. I visualized my husband screaming at me and then getting a really hot divorce lawyer.

Except none of that happened. After the garage door opened, I parked the car and hurried into the house to find Monkey, still resting on the couch. I pulled off my mittens and puffy black coat while I cooed, “Hey, Monkey… how are you feeling?”

“Okay,” he said.

I touched my son’s forehead. Cool as a cucumber. (Thank goodness.)

Tugging the hat from my head, I grabbed an extra blanket and covered Monkey from chin to toe. Then, I sat down beside him on the couch. Glancing at the clock, I saw it had been over three hours since I had left him alone.

“Do you need anything, buddy?” I asked, trying hard to make up for my hours of neglect. “Some tea?”

Monkey shook his head and kind of closed his eyes.

In that moment, I thought about what I had done. I had left my sick child when he needed me. Sure, I wanted my hair highlighted, but clearly some cosmic power seemed to be punishing me in a major way for my actions that morning, and I silently promised that if my li’l dude ever got sick again, I would put him first absolutely. Yes. Because he is that important to me. And I want him to know that he is loved and be the one to comfort him when he is feeling down and out.

“Mom,” Monkey said quietly, interrupting my thoughts. “Your hair looks really pretty.”

And you know what? It did. It really did.

Care to share any low parenting moments? Or just judge me in mine? It’s cool. I can take it.

28 thoughts on “Lessons on Gray Hair & Karma

  1. It’s the child’s job to have an issue exactly at the same time that the parent has something important to do. I’m sure it’s written in some parenting book somewhere. You did the right thing! Sorry you forgot your wallet, though…

      1. Just think. If you lived in Florida, you could probably get out of town for a week. Child and Family Services here is totally useless. The news recently featured a story about a family that had been visited on numerous occasions because of reported abuse. It was not until they found one child dead from toxic chemicals all over his body did they take any action. Meanwhile, others in the family are also suffering from kind of chemical reaction. Oy.

  2. Oh you are so funny! I totally get Mom of the Year Awards all the time – embarrassing the kids (“break dancing” in the car while my daughter and her friends were present. You know, that “wave” thing we used to do with our arms), making the kids do something when they didn’t feel good and then oh do you pay for that *later* – forgetting to pick your kid up from practice –

  3. I firmly believe in “oxygen mask” parenting: put your own mask (or hair color) on first so you can care for others.

    1. Thanks, Leonard. I think you and I both understand how important it is to not have to wait 16 weeks between color appointments. We can also agree that if we are ever seated together on a plane, it’s every person for him or herself.

  4. I’ve been in similar situations (I always seem to be out of town when my kids get sick). But you could look at it another way: you judged him to be mature enough to be okay on his own, and he was. So, perhaps you’re helping him become a man who can be sick on his own and not have the world around him shut down. (I know a few husbands who could use this advice!)

    1. So it’s kind of like I was channeling Lenore Skenazy, and I was “Free-Range Parenting” my sick child. I can get behind that. 😉 I did feel very confident that if he was going to hurl, he could make it to the bucket. And yes, he was able to be sick on his own and the world did not have to stop. He could relax and take control of the remote and be okay for a few hours. Maybe I’m creating a boy who will grow up to become the kind of husband who will not whimper when he is sick. Or text from upstairs “Am dying. Pls bring soup.” Maybe I am creating a Super Husband. Yes. I see it now. I did do the right thing. Thank you, IM.

  5. Kids get sick at the worst times…Brooks was deathly ill the one time we were able to swing a much needed vacation down to FL. We spent 2 of the 5 days we were there in the hospital. Once he was better, we tried to enjoy the rest of the time we had there…still, it was VERY hard leaving him with sitters while we went out. [ He was still in diapers at the time.]

    1. Sometimes you just need to tan a little and eat some lobster. And everything turned out fine, right? I mean, Brooks had paid, trained nurses hovering about to make sure he was okay, right?

      See Ironic Mom’s comment above. Maybe you were doing what she said… just a little earlier than I did.

    1. Oh please, Bert. Are you going to get all high and mighty on me? How many times did you stand by and hold the puke bucket for your children? Stroking their backs with love? And did that make them stronger people? Did you really need to hold the barf bucket. Wasn’t that just enabling them?

      I am creating a Super Man. He shall never whine. He might toss his cookies, but he will rise and shine and brush his teeth and then head off to work – like a Real Man. 😉

      I suppose while his wife is out getting a mani and a pedi…

      Maybe I need to rethink this.

  6. I read something cute once: vanity regarding one’s personal upkeep is a result of the natural human survival mechanism. Hence, the urgency you felt about those roots may mean you are a survivor type, a good parental role model. Maybe your Monkey said it all: your hair looks pretty.

    Monkey was going to puke whether you were there or not. Sure, it would have been nice to be there. One of the fondest memories of my mumsie is during an Illinois Winter when she hoovered with tomato soup and toasted cheese. When I ate, she let me throw my kleenex under the table! Now I do find that last bit odd now! Still, it’s one of my most vivid childhood memories, all tied up with love for mumsie.

    However, if one goes overboard with the nurse/mommie lovefest/duty, I am guessing that role may be worse psychologically for your offspring. It’s a little more than a guess. I’ve seen it happen.

    Very funny story. You had me smiling. I’m glad it was Spicoli’s car crunched, not yours.

  7. A story well told. You know, most people don’t tell these types of stories because they’re so concerned about how everyone will react. But the thing is that everyone HAS these types of stories. There’s a big difference between some type of plague and a predictable pukey virus. And over 10 is a lot different than under 9.

  8. Ha. This story is hilarious. That is what you get for leaving the poor kid all by himself!
    But I must say “Monkey” sounds like he is more mature than most adults out there these days. He kept his composure in his fencing competition, and now he has proven that he can take care of himself when he is sick and his mother is gone for three hours. AND then he is still nice enough to say, “hey mom your hair looks good.” I think this guy deserves a much better nickname other than Monkey.

    1. And if it makes you feel better I’m 19 and going bald (well my hair is thinning… progressively). So be happy it took you this long to find a grey hair.

      1. I have no idea what you are talking about. Someone else was wearing my helmet. I just needed highlights. 😉

        Also you may call Monkey whatever you like. He will answer. I know for a fact he will respond to: California Roll, Dude, Doodlie-doo, Hey, Fashizzle, and How-about-you-make-dinner-tonight?

        That’s the way HE rolls. 😉

  9. That is one helluva day – Karma is a bitch. But your Monkey seems to be a very mature and self-possessed little man.

    I’m not a parent yet so I haven’t been able to inflict any low moments on children. But once when I was about 22, I was faced with the dilemma of going out of town on a business trip when my boyfriend was having hernia surgery. I stupidly chose the business trip – not having enough confidence and guts to tell my company I had a life to attend to. His mother had to come into town to nurse him through it. Not one of my finer moments.

  10. OK, I will not comment on your parenting lest my son fill your ears with all my misdeeds. But letting Spicoli drive off without exchanging information is not something that your gray haired wisdom should have allowed for all sorts of reasons. Could be early senility 🙂

    1. Oh, don’t misunderstand me. I got Spicoli’s info. His license plate. His first and last name. I wrote down the date of the incident. I got his phone number and address and driver’s license info, too. (He didn’t ask for any of these details from me.) I’m no fool. (Who do you think you are dealing with, Steve-o?)

      I just agreed that assuming I didn’t have any problems with my car, I would agree not to report any problems to my insurance company. Because I had to get home to my Monkey.

      Plus, it was starting to snow, and that would have totally wrecked my hair. 😉

      1. How could I have doubted you? Not to mention hoping for the slightest possibility of displaying greater wisdom. Now, about the name, Monkey……

  11. I don’t have any kids, so I can’t comment on your “mother of the year” status, but I do have gray hairs that need to be hidden at all costs. I think you have the patience of a saint being able to wait 8 weeks for a hair appointment. Seriously. I would never have been able to wait that long. I would have shaved my head first. You just did what needed to be done. I think your son will be stronger in the long run because of it.
    (Here via the educlayton repost yourself post.)

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