After realizing my dark hair was here to stay (at least for the next six weeks), a complete and total meltdown ensued with lots of crying, screaming, and throwing herself on the floor. “I don’t like it! I like your ‘sunny’ hair! Change it back right now! You look different! What if I don’t recognize you when we go somewhere and I get lost?” And my personal favorite: “I’m still going to draw you with yellow hair!” Even when I showed her pictures from when she was a baby with me having darker hair, she was still adamant that I had yellow hair when she was “two, three, four, and five” and I should not have changed it.
I realized through this all this reaction that children become used to, even count on, things that grown-ups take for granted, like hair color. When I moved into a new office recently, she at first didn’t like the idea, because her school bus passed by my old office. She expects me to eat almost the same breakfast every morning. She knows I run races most Saturdays. I’ve always understood that Avery’s security depended on me providing her consistent love and nurturing, but I didn’t realize she paid so much attention to the daily details of her mom’s life. Often the things that Avery finds the most “me” aren’t even the things that I like or appreciate the most about myself. For example, she loves my much-less-than-perfect tummy and she describes me as “comfy,” i.e., “you are so comfy and snuggly Mommy.” Obviously, children have to learn to adapt to change just like the rest of us, but this experience was a good reminder that she is always watching and that little things mean a lot, especially when you’re little.
Finally, a day or so later, as we were walking hand-in-hand out of church, I asked her: “do you still not like Mama’s hair?” She paused a moment , looked up at me, and said: “You look different on the outside, but you’re still the same Mama on the inside. I guess it’s okay. But I’m still drawing you with yellow hair.”
Me and my "yellow hair" as drawn by Avery