The Mom & The Mohawk

My son’s mohawk has been a summer staple in our family for the last 5 years. He waits all school year long to make the journey to Great Clips. He knows we don’t allow the mohawk between the months of September and June because don’t want any major distractions to interfere with his studies. Not that I have any scientific evidence which correlates hairstyles to good grades, but I’m his mom and I’m sticking to my guns on this one. Summertime is different. We don’t mind him letting loose and expressing himself in this way. He loves the look and quite frankly, I think it is adorable. Not everyone in the family agrees with me. The grandparents don’t like it one bit which is why I waited until after the annual Father’s Day barbecue this year to get it cut. Mohawks are synonymous with rebels like Mr. T or some of the people who walk down South Street in Philly. Not a look for their grandson. Of course, they love him anyway and take comfort in the knowledge that his hair grows back quickly. Some supporters of the mohawk suggest I have him dye it red or blue. To them, I say no thank you. He is a boy, not a clown. I appreciate your support, but this is as far as I go. He started with the mohawk after he joined the swim team. All of the other boys were sporting them and he begged me for one too. I was hesitant at first, but he wanted it so badly and I relented. I reasoned it wasn’t like a piercing or anything permanent. When he came home for the first time with the shaved sides and landing strip down the middle, it was shocking to see. It was also the first time I saw my youngest look more like a little man. I admit I wasn’t crazy about it at first, but within a day I embraced his new look wholeheartedly. He made it so much easier because he loved it and–let’s face it–he rocked it. This summer, he is trading in swim meets for overnight camp in the Poconos. A few of his synagogue friends are going to camp with him but for the most part, he will be making a lot of new friends. I thought this might be the end of the Mohawk. But I was wrong. As June rolled around, he couldn’t stop talking about it and is even more excited to show his choice of summer hairstyles at camp. His sister tried to deter him. As a veteran of the same camp, she gave him the lay of the land and told him no one else had a mohawk. He was not at all phased by this information. In fact, it seemed to make him want it even more. I pulled him aside one day and quietly asked if he thought it was wise as he was going to a brand new camp with people he didn’t know. I didn’t tell him I feared he would be made fun of and not be accepted by his peers–although this has always been my worry. His answer shut me up once and for all. “Mom, I’m a leader. Not a follower.” SHIT! How can a parent argue with that?! And then I realized a few things. This is a kid with a boatload of confidence and I raised him to be that way. What kind of mom would I be if I didn’t respect his choices to be an individual? Within reason…of course. The mohawk may be a shocker at first, but if I know Andrew (and I think I do…) he will quickly win people over with his huge smile, great sense of humor, athletic skills, and wonderful personality. At 11 years old, he knows exactly who he is and he can’t wait to show it. They say you are only young once and we all know it to be true. He isn’t sporting a mohawk at school, in an office setting and he certainly will not have one at his bar mitzvah next year. I’ll admit, he did have it for a family funeral. We really had no choice there. It was purely bad timing. There is no better place than summer camp for him to have a little fun. Fun is what summer is all about! Seriously, there is no harm in it. And as his mom, I look past the mohawk and straight into his beautiful green eyes. He is still my son and he makes me incredibly proud.

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