how to be yourself: lessons from a 7 year old

What's bigger - his hair or his lollipop?!
What’s bigger – his hair or his lollipop?!

I’ve spent the first few years since becoming a mum diluting my look (and sometimes my outlook) to fit in with the crowd. I love dressing-up: heels, lipstick, the lot – it’s the only thing I miss from working at a magazine. But I hate the idea of sticking out on the school run so I try to keep my look low-key. Tricky, given that I don’t do casual or rather, casual doesn’t ‘do’ me. (Trust me, I look ridiculous in hoodies and trainers – even my kids think so).

Maybe it’s because I always encourage them to be bold in their choices; to be unequivocally individual that I’m questioning this approach. Take my son, Barnaby. He’s had 1970s style Brady Bunch hair since he was a toddler. Back then, everyone thought it was catalogue-cute, but as he got older people began to question it:
‘When are you going to get cut it short?’ friends/family would ask me.
‘Never,’ I’d reply, joking-but-not-joking before adding: ‘When he wants me to.’

He’s 7 now and I’m still waiting. Despite having had his hair put in bunches for PE and telling me recently that during his school’s annual class photo shoot, the photographer nicknamed him ‘Tarzan’,  he’s never ever a) got upset or b) been teased about it by his mates. When I asked him what he likes about having long locks he replied: ‘It’s kind of who I am, it’s part of my personality. If I cut it I’d look the same as everyone else and I wouldn’t be me anymore. It’d be weird.’

Be yourself; everyone else is already taken.”- Oscar Wilde

I realised then that my big little long-haired dude has already sussed at 7 what it’s taken me almost 40 years to work out: to be himself. I’ve decided that finally accepting the things about myself that I cannot change – those things that make me me  – is the one thing that I am going to change. So I’ll be rocking a red lipstick and high fashion on the next school run with my boy and his big barnet. And will I care if we stand out? Will I heck!

3 life-tips taken from our kids

fashion: clash like crazy
‘What does co-ordinate mean Mummy, and why do you think does everything has to? (Cece, age 5)

wellbeing: take time to relax
‘Don’t be stressed mummy, just chill out more!’ (Gracie, age 8)

self:  know your own mind
‘No, go ‘way!’ (Miss IG, 22 months)

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