santa cruz wharf

11 February 2007

Manic Monday ~ "Spike"

Spike – I actually called my daughter “Spike” for a couple months.

My daughter Rhiannon, (NOT NAMED AFTER OR BECAUSE OF ANY FLEETWOOD MAC SONG) graduated from college two years ago December. A month earlier at Thanksgiving she personally notified me, my folks, her Dad and his parents, that come graduation she was gonna shave her head.


Knowing what was important to the fam she promised that she would walk to “Pomp and Circumstance” with hair…let us all take pictures of her in cap n’ gown…but then…it was coming off. A friend of hers did head shaving for the men’s sport teams at her school. He had professional equipment, plenty of experience, and agreed to be there for the big event. (what amazing connections one makes in college.)

Despite my fumbling, stumbling efforts at being a single parent for the majority of her life….Rhiannon ended up being rather well adjusted. This is not the kid you would expect to shave her head. When she told me, I clearly recall thinking, “oh THIS ought to be interesting” But hey... she was almost 23...and graduating from the University of California. I was incredibly proud of her….almost as much as I am now. So…I was the supportive, loving Mommy. I remember saying, “yeah okay…but YOU have to tell your Grandparents AND Great-Grampa “cause I’m not gonna.” (I’m a supportive, loving Mommy…but I am no fool.…and while this may not be a greek tragedy… we do indeed kill the messenger.)

Truth be known…what I suspect…is when you and your mother are freakishly linked…when you talk to each other several times a day and probably know way too many personal details of each other’s private lives…graduating from college is a good time to start redefining that relationship. When your Mommy has had rather long hair for most of your life….shaving your head is the best visual to establish your own identity and independence.

And she had wanted to shave her head before.

Five years prior, when Rhiannon was a senior in high school, my Mama underwent chemo and radiation treatments following her mastectomy. My Mama and my daughter are very close…Rhiannon wanted to shave her head in solidarity with Gramma. Fortunately my Mama forbade it based on all the “Senior Year” pictures, events, et cetera. Being one of the few requests ever denied to my daughter…it had probably been stewing somewhere in that brain of hers.

The day of graduation was truly one of the most significant of my lifetime. My family…her Dad’s family…a bizarre sibling mix….and bunches of grandparents….traveled hundreds of miles to see Rhiannon graduate. It was wonderful. Following the ceremony, surrounded by the tens of thousands of other family and friends, loaded down with roses, cameras, and a used airhorn or two…we were headed out to find Rhiannon.

My ex-mother-in-law starts yelling at me. Right there in front of God, Chancellors, and everyone. She does NOT want Rhiannon to shave her head. I look at her incredulously…saying, “she told you about this a month ago” The response was that they thought Rhiannon was kidding. Mind you, I live about 400 miles away from my in-laws. I have only seen them one other time in the past ten years…and that was when Rhiannon graduated from High School. And here she is YELLING at me. (did I mention her birthday is 31 October? kidding…it is)

I can’t get away because of the crowds. I look around…trying to locate Rhiannon’s father. The man is really tall and has red hair…usually he can be spotted immediately. But no. It occurs to me that he could be hiding. And where by the way, is MY side of the family? There they are behind me…oblivious…chatting with strangers….smiling proudly…having a high ole time.

Her two young half brothers are watching wide-eyed at their grandmother yelling at their sister’s mother. They don’t know me very well…but they know her…and they’re lookin’ a little scared. I smile down at them trying to reassure them, “WHERE is your dad???” (Damn...I can never get over how much one of them looks just like my daughter.) They both shrug. Great. Rhiannon has the same shrug. Wonder where they get it. Must be genetic. This woman is still yelling about how I can’t allow this to happen and now she’s pulling on my sleeve. Why can’t she just shrug? I am about ready to lose it. Rhiannon’s 20-year-old step brother steps in…trying to deflect the onslaught… "now Grandma we talked about this…” She just keeps on me. I look to my father-in-law (who is usually my biggest fan) he says nothing…he just shrugs. No help there.

Finally I see her Dad approaching; slowly side stepping through the throng…I can tell from his face he knows there is trouble. I give him that pleading “get over here NOW” look. He hasn’t seen that look (from me anyway) in almost twenty years….but he makes tracks. Amusingly I recognize the “oh geez what is my mother doing now” expression on his face as well. I turn to my ex-mother-in-law and say in my outside voice, “I haven’t been married to your son for over 18 years…leave me alone…yell at him instead.” I turn and slip through the crowd to find my way to my daughter. I ain’t waiting for anyone anymore.

Needless to say any hesitation I may have secretly felt for shaved heads evaporated instantly.

Back at her apartment, almost everyone took a turn at cutting off her shoulder length hair…almost everyone. Later at the party in a local restaurant my father-in-law very quietly told me she had a beautiful head.


Empress Bee (of the High Sea) said...

well i think she looks adorable!

smiles, bee

Sarge Charlie said...

Thanks for stopping by my place

Crazy Working Mom said...

What an awesome story. She is obviously very strong willed! :)

You handled the "situation" with the inlaws very well. Probably much better than I would've!

Happy Monday. Stop by my Manic Monday if you get a chance.

Mel said...

What's not to be proud of--what a persevering, determined and sensitive child.

Bit like the girl who claims me as the mother--only she wouldn't have warned me. LOL

What a wonderful story!

katherine. said...

thanks bee...I do too

sarge: I watch you place frequently

Crazy Mom: strong willed? why whatever do you mean? (rolling my eyes)

Mel: she hasn't warned me of everything... I am amazed with her all the time.

Gattina said...

You know some people have never been young, they were born old ! And then very often they belong to those who live with "what will my family/friends think". I think you did everything very well and your daughter looks just beautiful. She has a face that allows to be bald !!

Lexa Roséan said...

great story and your daughter looks beautiful:)

Debbie said...

Having a soon to be 20 year old son who does scary things (at least to me) to his hair and is always getting a new piercing I identify with this story and a child's need to be different. She has a beautiful head and did what she wanted.

Wonderful take on spike. My choice is sort of like yours. I just did not put many words to my pictures!

Skittles said...

She is beautiful! What a great story explaining how it all came to be!

Sanni said...

The story is just awesome, Katherine.
Rhiannon is such a beauty! =)

Morgen said...

she does have a beautiful head, and she does look wonderful. This was a great story, not only about "spike" but about family.
very well done!
thanks for participating in
Manic Monday

lisa said...

she is lovely! it's good to have a mind of your own. :-)

Mags said...

You know...she really does have a beautiful head, and she looks beautiful with shaved hair.

Not everyone can pull that off! Ok, almost NO ONE can!!

Great story...thanks for sharing it!