These were written when daughter was about 16 and I felt about 127, and were published as part of a series of articles under the title 'The generation gap', in a woman's magazine.
Letters from the trenches
The mother's view
A battle is being waged in our house. Quite separate from the everyday rucks and mauls, this is a war of subtlety where the main tactic is Wearing Down the Resistance.
The first blow was struck a couple of years ago although at that stage I didn't realise it was a war. Anna wanted to have her ears pierced. I held out until I felt she was old enough to make such a decision and then quite happily accompanied her to the shop. In fact, I went one step further and had my own ears pierced as well!
So that was that I thought. But I hadn't taken fashion into account. Next it was "Mum, can I have another earring in the top of my ear." "No definitely not."
I honestly can't remember agreeing to it or even when it happened. It must have been battle fatigue numbing the brain. Suffice it to say, Anna now has a second earring in one ear - not that you can see it under her hair anyway.
So one boundary has been exceeded and a new one created.
"Can I have my nose pierced?" "Absolutely and positively NO!" The trouble is, I can't really think of a good reason why not. I only have the parent's favourite "Because I say so" to fall back on. Which brings me to today’s dilemma — to bleach or not to bleach? Anna has dark brown hair which she would love to transform to white. My gut reaction is that “It’ll ruin your hair and it will all fall out.” Of course, as I have no actual scientific backing I have to do a lot of waffling. I suspect a compromise is around the corner and that we will allow her to bleach some streaks before she sets off for Greenbelt otherwise I fear what she might take it into her head to do while there.
But now, of course, the cracks in Mum's armour have shown. It has been proved that I am quite likely to crumble under pressure. I've always tried to be consistent. If I said no I meant no.
Surely I'm not so weak that I can be bullied by my children not to mention the dog...or the cat?
Ah well, if all else fails, I'll have to call in the big guns...."Michael".
The daughter's view
And so began the Bleach War.
Battles such as this, with my parents as the opposition, in the past have had a 50/50 success rate to either side. Admittedly, the Ear War in 93 (I wanted the top of one ear pierced) resulted in me being grounded when I won - they denied everything. That was my one proud win.
However, in 1995, the tables turned and I lost (for now). I am not having my nose pierced on the grounds of “I say so”; or at least not til I’m 18. I think they’re hoping that I’m going to turn into a boring sensible person overnight on my 18th. But you see it’s become principle now. Even if I do change my mind about having my nose pierced (and I haven’t yet) clearly, they’ve left me with no choice.
And now we’re into a new one. War III, thus smashing all world records. The chances on either side are equal....
The only reason I’m struggling on is that my parents have agreed to allow me to bleach streaks in my hair. What I’m hoping for is to bleach all of it. But I wouldn’t leave it white; that would look horrible. I want to dye it pink on top, so it comes out really bright. I’m going to a music festival, Greenbelt, and I need to be outrageous for it. It’ll be worth my hair falling out! (Which, by the way is my parents’ sole argument. My hair will fall out if I bleach it. Yeah.... right. Personally I think they’ll just be too embarrassed to have a daughter with pink hair). I’ve found the dye and rung the hairdressers about the bleaching - there’s only one problem to overcome.
The Other Side.
I tried the Mature Persuasive tactic, the calm, reasonable argument.
I used the Other Parents tactic (other-people-let-their-children-be-responsible-for-their-own-hair ).
I even resorted to the sulky “I’m doing it anyway” tactic, and the “what will you do if I do it?” and even foot-stamping in order to get my way. All plans to stay calm have flown the nest by this stage, and all the early childhood methods have come back into play. You see I’m very organised really. If all else fails, cry.