What’s in a hair style?
We just picked our kids up after two weeks at camp. When we arrived we founds our oldest daughter in the arts and crafts tent getting her hair braided by a cabin-mate.
This may not seem like a big deal, but our 12 year old daughter has long-refused to wear any other hair style than a pony tail. Refused. occasionally to there point of tears if we were really pushing her to try something different for a special occasion (not our proudest moment as parents, in retrospect).
… So imagine our surprises when we see her joyfully getting her hair braided and her friend telling us that she has enjoyed being her personal stylists and trying out new looks every day. This is shocking.
But I guess that’s camp. An opportunity to reinvent, redefine or slightly tweak yourself in a way that is just too hard or embarrassing to do in the company of your parents or existing friends.
I am reminded of the scene in a kids movie, when the main character and his older sister board a bus for summer camp and as soon as they get in line, she turns to her little brother and says “from this moment, we don’t know each other” and she promptly acquires a New Jersey accent and launches her new self into the new circle of friends.
Our oldest daughter is a stubborn kid, and change is tough for her. I think she feels, at times, that we try to push too much change on her – try new foods, new clothing styles, new study habits (this is a big one). So she digs in. Camp gives her the freedom to change and experiment, without having to admit to anyone that she is changing. It is an amazing thing for her.
I think, as parents, we sometimes forget the pressure we put on our kids – and the judgement they feel. I find it amazing to see how my kids thrive when they are freed from this perceived judgement. Not that a hair style means anything. But it is a metaphor for a larger lesson. Our kids can make choices without us… and maybe even better choices at times. Why? Because they may actually be pretty good at figuring out what is good and right for them, removed from the complicating element of trying to either guises what we would consider right or, at times, what they think might provoke us.
And the morning, she was wearing her hair down.