Family / Parenting

Embracing the unicorn

This kid.

The one who, four years ago, stopped wearing t-shirts with writing on them – even his all-time favorite, “I’m with the band” shirt – because “I don’t want anyone to talk to me about them.”

This kid who, for two years running, has chosen the most innocuous Halloween costume possible – a San Francisco Giants fan – for the sole purpose of camouflaging himself amongst his peers.

This kid who has, time and again, told me, “I just want to be like everyone else.”

This morning, this kid designed a new hairstyle to wear to school.

He gathered his three-inch-long bangs into a rubber band, forming a ponytail at the exact center of his forehead. When wet, it looked like Squiggy’s black point, on steroids. When dry, it looked like a unicorn’s wilted horn.

b hair crop

Do you believe in Uni-Hair?

Holymotherofgod, what are you thinking? I wondered. You’re going to get your metaphorical ass kicked on the playground, I feared. Say goodbye to those new friends you made this school year, I thought. This is the kind of social f-up that can follow you around forever, I didn’t say.

What I did say: “Isn’t it fun to try something new?”

“Do you think people will laugh at me?” he asked.

“I think people will want to talk about it,” I said, “because it’s different, and people like to talk about things that are different.”

He considered this and shrugged.

I smoothed his hair horn.

He asked me to take a picture and post it on Facebook.

I took the picture.

I did not post it on Facebook because: What if he wants to forget this ever happened? What if the picture resurfaces in the awkward teen years, to his peril?

“I’ll post it later,” I said. “We need to get you to school.”

All day, my mind wandered into the Worry Zone: What kind of rejection is he facing? Will his teacher support him? Is that thing still in his hair?

Each time I found my thoughts there, I redirected them: Trust your kid. He will work it out.

Midday, I sent a copy of the picture to my brother, connoisseur of all things weird. He sent back a picture of himself, rockin’ the same ‘do.

Phil hair

Uncle Philbo believes in Uni-Hair.

Right, I thought. Right. Join the weird.

If I were to see anyone else’s kid wearing unicorn horn hair, I’d celebrate the hell out of him. But this was my kid, so I got stuck in fear.

And then I got myself out.

Embrace the unicorn! Long live the weird! This afternoon, sitting in the car, watching for my Uni-kid to exit his school, I hoped against hope that the horn had survived.

It had.

“How’d it go?” I asked, as he slid into the back seat.

“Fine,” he said. “Some people teased me, but I handled it.”

“Cool,” I said.

“Did you post my picture on Facebook yet?” he asked.

“Not yet,” I said. “But I will.”

And so I posted. Because my kid did something rad today, and I want both of us to remember that. Forever.


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  1. Yay for rocking with his own self (and the unicorn hair). Also, total kuddos to Mom. I will guilty of stifling to try and keep pain at bay… only, I shouldn’t and I need to learn to embrace the fear. Thanks for the reminder.

  2. My younger son taught me to back off when, in preschool, he wanted to wear a sparkley headband to school. I made a (misguided and)veiled attempt to dissuade him. And I failed. Then I watched him rock that headband with such flair and confidence that I vowed from then on to trust my kids’ fashion choices, even when they scare me. And yes, they scare me. =-)

  3. oh, I know that anxiety, and also that triumph! You both rocked the unicorn hair.

    • Thank you! When I struggle to support my kids doing something “off the beaten path,” I feel like such a bad queer parent. Shouldn’t I be celebrating uniqueness? Glad to know I’m not the only one who cringes sometimes.

  4. “I smoothed his hair horn.” My favorite part.

  5. Such a wonderful story! I love the supportive uncle’s role, too. And your thought–if you saw anyone else’s kid wearing unicorn hair, you’d celebrate him. Most of us would, I like to hope! He just double-dosed on power and courage . . . so did you! I believe! 🙂

    • Later that week we Skyped with Uncle P and his partner, both of whom showed up onscreen wearing the uni-hair. Proof that this trend has taken hold in Poland.

  6. I thought this was an amazingly beautiful story, After I stop crying I though Yes Rock the Weird and wounderfly amazing things Kids do. !!!

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