How a Mullet Reminded Me to Let My Kids Be Themselves

My 3-year-old daughter returned from a timeout in her room yesterday like this:IMG_20140330_155901_118

That’s right: She gave herself the most horrific preschooler mullet of all time. This was no casual chop; it was an intense massacre of hair that involved cutting off both ponytails and then proceeding to give herself multiple bald spots.

Of course we had a serious discussion of why it is not safe to use scissors without an adult, which in retrospect may have been a conversation better held, oh, before the self-inflicted haircut. After we thanked our lucky stars that she hadn’t hurt herself, I couldn’t stop hugging her and laughing – and tearing up a little too.

Anne could not be happier about her new do. In fact, after we taught her the word “mullet,” she insisted that “all the kids in the neighborhood” will want one, too. Such a little hillbilly trendsetter.

For me, I couldn’t help but feel a little sad seeing all of her beautiful blonde hair in the trashcan. To add one more twang of loss, I found her two little ponytails with the elastics still on them in the trash. She had simply whacked them both off.

So as I look at her today with her rattail and unfortunate bald spots and chopped hair sticking out at inexplicable angles, I have been thinking how our children really do come to us with their own personalities. My oldest daughter would never have even thought of going all Edward Scissorhands on her own hair.

But Anne didn’t think twice. “My hair was too long,” she said triumphantly as she debuted her new look. It was as simple as that for her.

Hair is trivial in the grand scheme of life. It will grow back. Life will go on. But it made me realize that as a mom, I am going to want certain things for my daughter and sometimes, she is going to just do her own thing no matter what. And while part of my job is protecting her and teaching her along the way, the other part of motherhood is letting her be herself. She is not a mini-me. She is not just pieces of my husband and pieces of me. She is her own little person with thoughts and feelings and hairstyle preferences all her own.

So, yes, I admit I took her to a hairstylist to trim up the mullet in the back. But I hope this is the first in a long line of moments where she discovers and asserts who she is and wants to be. And I plan to always there in those moments to give her a hug and tell her I love her just the way she is.



  1. Danny Chipman

    I can’t help but wonder if she gave herself the haircut in an attempt to punish -you- for the time-out! Ah, but kids will be kids, and they live and learn.

  2. City girl

    So what do kids say about their mullet? “Time out in the front and party in the back!”

  3. jfarker

    Dear Erin,
    I predict that you will be eating these words ten years from now, but I wish you the best of luck.
    Mom of three teen girls 😉

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