Smartmom: Turquoise Turmoil for OSFO
Here you have it, this week’s Smartmom from the award-winning Brooklyn Paper.
Smartmom admits it: Sheâs a coward!
This all goes back to last week, when the Oh So Feisty One showed up at school with a large streak of turquoise in her hair. The entire class of middle schoolers made fun of Smartmomâs girl.
So what was Smartmomâs first reaction? You guessed it â panic.
Before she even had a chance to talk to OSFO, Smartmom made an
appointment for her girl at Medusa Hair Salon to get the turquoise dye
taken out in time for the next school day.
Talk about putting the colorist before the conversation.
âEveryone hates my hair and they keep making fun of it,â OSFO told
Smartmom. âEveryone is asking, âWhy did you do it?â and telling me that
I shouldnât have done it.â
But OSFO wasnât looking for Smartmom to make it all go away. She was
looking for support because she didnât WANT to make it go away.
âI just called Medusa. You can cover it up if you want,â Smartmom told OSFO.
âNo way!â OSFO shouted out. âThat would be cowardly. Besides I like it and I want to keep it.â
Smartmom fell silent. You could have heard a plastic glove with Manic Panic dye on it drop.
And there it was: Smartmom was the coward, the person whose
self-esteem relied on the opinion of the group. Naturally, she had just
assumed that OSFO would want to undo what sheâd done. How could she
have thought otherwise, considering that back to ninth grade at the New
Lincoln School, she and Jean Flegenheimer spent lunchtime making
collages in the art studio because they felt so unpopular?
But OSFO is not Smartmom. Sure, she was upset (who likes to be the
subject of negative attention?), but sheâd already decided that she was
not going to be bulldozed by her classâs assessment of her new hair
Smartmom simultaneously felt shame and pride. Shame because she had
revealed her own insecurities by offering OSFO an out before theyâd
even talked about her feelings â and proud that her daughter refused to
plead guilty in the court of sixth grade opinion.
Whoa. Smartmom had some growing up to do and a lot to learn from OSFO.
Tellingly, Hepcatâs reaction couldnât have been more different. He
was routinely ridiculed at school for being different. Growing up in a
small farm town in Northern California, his sartorial choices
frequently prompted incredulity and hostility from his classmates. He
sums it up this way:
âLike all real New Yorkers, I was the weirdest kid in the small town I grew up in. Thatâs why I moved to New York.â
He learned at a young age from his large extended family that being
different was a good thing. A clan of farmers, engineers, doctors, and
artists, theyâre all proud of their iconoclastic and unconventional
So while Smartmom was making an appointment at Medusa, Hepcat was bolstering OSFOâs decision to follow her own star:
âSheâs got a strong sense of herself. Sure, she pushed the envelope
more than she expected. But itâs one of those experiences that will
give her a good sense of herself. It will make her a little more
assertive and a little more independent.â
Later that night, Hepcat told OSFO that he was really proud of her.
âThereâs nothing better than making choices and sticking to them,â
he said. âFrom this position, you can win people over and get them to
The next day, OSFO was nervous about going to school. But Smartmom
noticed that she was wearing the blue Paul Frank hoodie that matched
her hair color. That was bold. As she readied to leave, Smartmom could
tell she was a little bit scared. Smartmom began to speechify â¦
âYour hair looks beautiful. It takes a lot of courage to be different â¦ â
At this OSFO ran for the door. Clearly, sheâd rather deal with a
roomful of sixth graders than have to hear her mother make yet another
Then Hepcat called out, âHave a great day, I love you!â The door
slammed and Hepcat and Smartmom sat thinking of their sixth-grade
selves and how OSFO was years ahead of them.