Tuesday found me at home with Finn, who had fever. I will admit that once I get past the stress of missing work, I like staying home with a sick kid. A sick kid needs you. A sick kid wants you. A sick kid accepts your cuddles and kisses because he’s too weak to push you off.
Alas, this was not a big fever. It was just a spot of fever. The kind of fever that keeps your kid barred from school but fails to keep him quiet and immobile on your couch. I have a special name for this kind of fever, and that name is A Pain in My Ass.
“Mom. Can we dye my hair today?” I squeezed my eyes shut and mentally cursed myself. He’d been asking for days to dye his hair blue. If I’d remembered about the hair, I’d have plugged him full of Motrin and used my full upper body strength to shove him into his classroom. But here we were, just the two of us. Alone. With nothing to do, because Tom had loudly conditioned Finn’s staying home on NO SCREEN TIME, before he himself ran away to the office for a busy day of surfing the internet for articles about the World Cup.
I didn’t object to the blue hair. I enthusiastically support my kids any time they want to look different from other people. No, what I objected to was the work. So many steps. The procurement of the dye. The covering of all surface areas in the bathroom. The application. The waiting. The washing. I didn’t sign up for that. I signed up for forced cuddling, seven hours of daytime TV, and a late-afternoon Slurpee and Doritos run.
We drove to Sally’s, where Finn took a look around the store and commented loudly on how empty it was. “Boy, this store is EMPTY!!” As an aside, my kids can’t step into a store without remarking on how few customers there are, always in front of the person running the store. Why do kids do that? Does it reaffirm their own bodily presence, their own existence in the world? I’ve thought about this a lot, and my only conclusion is that it’s incredibly awkward. For me.
Anyway, the woman at Sally’s led us to the blue hair dye section, and assured me that the stuff would work without bleaching, even on Finn’s brown hair. Has my own black hair ever been dyed? Yes. Have I ever known it to take color without pre-bleaching beforehand? No. Unfortunately, these long-known truths escaped me in the face of my 7-year old’s enthusiasm.
Back home, I carefully laid out the dye, Vaseline, and shower cap, while pulling on my gloves. I covered the sink with towels. Finn took his shirt off and plopped down on the toilet seat. I traced a thick gob of Vaseline all around his hairline. Then I started rubbing in the blue gel, which looked bright, bright blue. Finn started fist-pumping the air before I’d even done his whole head. He turned his head from one side to the other, admiring himself. Then I put on the shower cap, and then, we waited.
40 minutes later, I gingerly pulled off the shower cap. The hair still looked blue, but mostly because the gel was blue. The actual hair underneath looked alarmingly black. And worse than that was his scalp, which was bright teal. I felt a tingly sensation on the back of my neck. The same tingly feeling I get when Finn asks me at school what we are having for dinner, and I know that we are having turkey meatloaf, and that Finn is about to lose his shit in front of a roomful of parents.
I pushed Finn into the shower and turned on the shower head. I watched in horror as all the blue gel washed out of his hair, leaving behind a head of hair that was two shades DARKER than before. Finn, in the meantime, was watching the blue water run over his feet, and freaking out. “MOM YOU’RE WASHING ALL THE BLUE OUT!!!! STOP!!! STOP IT!!! STOP WASHING THE BLUE OUT!!!” My mind was racing. Because I knew that if he was pissed now, he was going to fall apart when he saw himself in the mirror.
No help for it. Finn jumped out of the tub, splashing blue everywhere, and ran to the mirror. When he saw himself, he opened his mouth in a rictus of pain, started screaming, and didn’t stop. He screamed for like ten minutes, I swear. And I didn’t even have the heart to quiet him, because goddamnit, I have been there. Who hasn’t entered a hair salon clutching a picture of Kate Moss, and walked out, dreams crushed and soul broken? Some of us do that four times a year.
Anyway, Cuz eventually stepped in and we went back to Sally’s to procure some hair chalk. The box says “Hot Huez,” which apparently does not rhyme with “Hot Suez,” but instead rhymes with “Hot Shoes.” Go figure. Finn woke me up at 6:00 AM today so that I could rub some Hot Huez into his hair. I rubbed it in but good. Then I set it with hairspray. Finn craned his neck around me, trying to get a peek.
“Is it blue, Mom?”
That it is, kid. That it is.
More pics of Finn’s blue hair odyssey available right there to the right via Instagram…