Back to School Blues In the Powder Room

Back-to-School Blues (It’s Not What You Think)

It’s back-to-school season and I’m sad. Not because my little babies are leaving the nest, going it alone in the big, wide world of preschool or even elementary school. And not because they are moving on without me, growing up faster than I can handle.

No, mostly I’m sad because I can no longer send my son out of the house looking like this:

OneFunnyMotha InthePowderRoom

All summer long we dispensed with grooming. I don’t think he brushed his hair once the entire time he was off from school. Every day he rolled out of bed, tangled rat’s nest atop his head, and strode into camp exactly as is. His camp, despite what Disney says, was the happiest place on earth (probably because I was paying so God damn much for it), and for all that money I felt hair brushing should have been included.

But the crazy hair on Jack’s head looked cute, at least according to me, and it opened up a whole five minutes of free time in the morning. One less task to do, one less argument to have before 9:00 a.m.

My daughter similarly underwent a brush-free period, but with her long hair, she looked more homeless than free spirit. It wasn’t such a good look for her, and while I did my best to discourage it, my disapproval only makes Kate more resolute. It was just best to give up and deal with convincing the world at large that my child wasn’t actually a vagrant.

Jack had somehow managed to avoid looking homeless until last summer. And although he showered nightly and went to bed with perfectly normal hair, in the morning he always awoke to a matted, fuzzy mess. I don’t know what went on in that room overnight—whether he held wild, 3rd grade raves in there or snuck out to hit the bars for a night of hard drinking—but in the morning the kid always staggered out of his room looking like it’d been a rough night. Fortunately, his new look wasn’t anything that couldn’t be fixed with a quick visit to the barber before school started.

Kate’s homeless stage, sadly, lasted a good deal longer. Until about now. But it all changed one miraculous day at Target.

We were shopping for some back-to-school supplies when Kate wandered down the health and beauty aisle and asked to buy a brush. It’s not like she didn’t have a brush. She just wanted a new-fangled, ergonomically designed brush in turquoise. While I generally don’t like buying stuff we don’t need, it was only a few bucks, and that day I was feeling generous. Five bucks later, Kate’s homeless days were behind her. Had I had known a cheap Target hairbrush would’ve put an end to this whole homeless-chic look, I would’ve bought it years ago.

So while my kids’ hair looks decent (for now), and the promise of six solid, kid-free hours should bring me nothing but unadulterated joy, school days mean I have to make sure they look presentable at all times and abide by societal norms for grooming.

And who needs that?


Image credit:

One Funny Motha provides incisive cultural commentary, also known as common sense. Her work has appeared on such sites as The Huffington Post, BlogHer, Scary Mommy, and Mamalode. In 2014 she was named one of the Top 10 Funny Parent Bloggers of the Year by Voice Boks. Perhaps most importantly, she is the proud founder of the Detached Parenting Movement, a child-rearing model she single-handedly developed without any guidance or advanced degrees in child psychology.

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  1. says

    This is hilarious! I know those looks so well! THIS is why I shaved my son’s head most of his life, you couldn’t tell if he just woke up, or hadn’t washed or brushed his hair, he didn’t have any!
    My daughters on the other hand?? Well, let’s just say we’ll be taking a trip to Target today so she can pick out her VERY OWN brush! Maybe that will help? Right now I have to chase her around, or leave the brush by the kitchen table so I can get them while they’re eating. The only time they’ll sit still! Great post.

  2. says

    Joy, I heart you. So funny (and I can’t wait to read your piece today). My son just got a crew cut this year for back to school & I swear it’s because we told him he had to brush his hair. He can’t deal w/ the hassle, and he only has about 3 strands of hair. But, yes, do yourself a favor & in vest in whatever color Target hairbrush they want.

  3. Leslie Marinelli says

    I so relate to this Stacey. I love the lazy days of summer and not just for the hygiene-optional element. I too find that Target holds the answers to so many of life’s mysteries.

  4. says

    This is so funny. I was the last mom to get with it as far as even realizing that hair brushing should be a daily task (wearing shoes was also slow for me to get past with my kids). My son has a buzz cut and never moes, and my 4 yo daughter took FOREVER to grow real hair and even now just has a pixie length cut because it never grows longer, but it DOES need brushing, so that has become a morning time suck. 30 seconds is a lot when you are on a deadline.

  5. says

    I wish a $5 hair brush would get my daughter to brush her hair. It’s an ongoing battle, in which I tell her she’s going to have spiders nesting in her hair, and she whines and pouts. I’d threaten to cut it all off and give her a buzz cut, but she’d want to take me up on it! It’s what she WANTS! I want her to look remotely like a girl. Looking forward to the teen years with this one…

    • says

      I hear ya. My daughter never wanted to brush when she was little (b/c of knots) so I always kept her hair short & then she would brush it b/c it didn’t get knots. Can you keep it short, but not buzzed?

  6. says

    You had me in hysterics!! And that pic is amazing!!! There is a more relaxed vibe to getting ready in the summer than school isn’t there? But I for one like that we are now back into our routine, it feels pretty good! (For now!) Great piece!

    • says

      Well, I am loving that the kids are back in school where they belong. I really don’t know why they ever let them out of there. But just wait until the homework starts piling in. I always love the 1st week of school. It’s all the rest you have to worry about.

    • says

      I hear ya. With my daughter it’s sweat pants w/ EVERYTHING. We had a wedding to go to, & I was thinking, How can we jazz up sweat pants? But I’m contemplating starting a jammies-for-all-occasions movement. I’ve been wearing my jammies a lot, & I find I really don’t want to get dressed anymore ever.

  7. says

    I love it. The turquoise hairbrush that saved the day! At our house, one of my girls found a brush I had in college and fell in love with it. Now the brushing takes place without me mentioning it. Most days. lol

  8. says

    My son’s hair always looks well-groomed – it’s thick and basically doesn’t move no matter what you do to it. My daughters on the other hand rock the vagrant look. Some weeks we pour oil over their heads to kill multi-generational families of headlice that seem to take up lodgings every school holidays. Then they look like that girl off The Ring. I’m tempted to send them to school in white nightgowns with a couple of VHSs.