Roots: Slice of Life 9/31 #sol16

slice of life

My son cringes when he looks at me.

“You’re going to die!” he says. “You’re dying right now!”

As with so many of his pronouncements, this one comes out of the blue, no context to ground me or clue me in on how best to respond.

Philosophically? Why yes, we’re all dying. Every minute we live brings us a little bit closer to the great beyond.

Playfully? Well, not at this very moment unless you’re planning to kill me.

In the end, I settle for knitting my brows in confusion.

He rolls his eyes and points.

“Your hair!”

Of course. My hair.

It started going gray when I was 23. That’s when I started coloring it.

It grows fast, and I stretch out appointments at the stylist as long as I can, which means living sometimes with silvery gray roots that form a stripe along the part.

My hair is my one vanity, and that gray stripe is not exactly attractive, but it never used to bother me all that much.

It makes my son crazy.

He is always looking for signs of my mortality. Every wrinkle is a personal affront. He examines my face every day. He pulls on my neck and pinches the backs of my hands.

“I can’t look at you,” he says mournfully.

For a long time, he was looking for a reason not to love. Now that he does love, he doesn’t want any reason to stop. He only wants to feel safe and secure. Protected from more loss, more hurt.

I will go to the hair salon, and I will get the roots colored. He will examine my hair when I get home.

“That’s so much better,” he will say with relief. “Now I can look at you again.”

But the gray continues to grow.

I can promise him so many things, but not this.







12 responses to “Roots: Slice of Life 9/31 #sol16”

  1. Tara Smith Avatar

    The way you notice what your son notices and why says so much.

  2. Diary of a 40 Something Empty Nester Avatar

    I have some students who notice mine. I never asked why, I hope it is not that the worry of my demise.

  3. vanessaw2007 Avatar

    I had an aunt who’s hair went gray at an early age and was always self conscious about it. I really liked your playful response to your son…so cute!

  4. readingtothecore Avatar

    Isn’t it funny what kids notice? A student once told me that I had a stripe and should get my hair colored. I thanked her for the reminder and carried on.

  5. JulieK Avatar

    “Knitting my brows in confusion” made me laugh

  6. margaretsmn Avatar

    Good thing he’s a boy. Girls notice everything from the gray down to the shoes you wear.

  7. Carol Avatar

    I can’t imagine living the way our boys do, always afraid of having people taken away. You capture the scene beautifully.

  8. Mindi Rench Avatar

    Every day I read more about you and your son, and my heart just swells. You write about him with such love, I can feel it through my screen.

  9. carriegelson Avatar

    So many things . . .

  10. payanar100 Avatar

    I love the way you described the struggle of figuring out how to respond to this exclamation from your son. That awareness that kids have of our physical appearance and all its implications is so interesting.

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