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Musings on a gray hair

Have you found your first gray hairs yet? If so you can relate to writer Michelle Kennedy’s experience as she ponders what might have encouraged the growth of hers.

The discovery
I found one. My first one … ever. No, not a new car or house or even a great, new sweater. I found my first gray hair. Let’s call it a “grey” hair. It looks much more distinguished.

Now, I know this does not sound nearly as epic to anyone but myself, including my husband who is several years older than I and has a complement of very distinguished looking gray hairs in his beard. But this was not something I expected before the age of 30. And it’s not so much the hair as much as what it represents.

My mother used to say that each of her gray hairs was a moment in time. Something her three children did to make her heart leap into her throat (or her blood boil) and, well, turn her hair gray.

I thought about my four children as I sat looking at this hair (I wasted no time yanking it from my head). What thing did they do that caused my hair to turn this shade of — I said gray, my husband said white.

Was it my three-year-old son playing Kamikaze pilot in his little plastic car, aimed straight for a large tree? Perhaps it was my seven-year-old daughter in the tree in our backyard, playing tightrope walker or my five-year-old son launching his sled off icy ramps … “Look Ma! No hands!” is a common refrain in our house.

Maybe it’s not so much the stunts that turn my hair gray, but the constant clamor … not clamor really, more like three-ring circus and all three rings are centered in my living room. Crashing and banging, followed by raucous laughter are above my head (after laughing comes crying! I yell), while someone who is mad that I asked them to do laundry is banging machinery below … “Just wanted to make sure it was shut, Mom!” Yeah, right.

Then there is the constant stream of questions. Thud, thud, thud (That’s the sound of mud coming in through the kitchen floor). “Can I have a …?” “Can we make a …?” “Do we have any …?” or the ever famous, “I’m hungry. Can I have a snack?”

The cause
They’re always hungry. That’s good, I guess. My pediatrician says it’s the sign of active, healthy children. My grocery store manager thinks it’s good too. When he sees my four kids and me walk through the door he automatically knows it’s $200 walking in the door. That could be gray hairs one through 50 right there.

What’s even worse is that 95 percent of the time I can size up my two shopping carts (yes, two carts) and come within $5 of the actual total. My husband always thinks I’m cracked. “We can’t possibly spend that much.” Wanna make a bet?

Or maybe … and this is just a thought … that gray hair could have come from that silent time of night. That cherished, all the kids are in bed, everyone has had a glass of water and story, time of night. The time of night when you are ever so carefully creeping out of the bedroom and as the door is just about closed, a piercing pain like no other shoots through your body. It’s mind numbing, and you can’t remember feeling this much pain — ever.

But you can’t scream. You can’t bellow even a little bit, not so much as a peep, because that would be the end of your next two hours of blissful, read-an-actual-grownup-book silence. So you clench your fists until the nails dig into your palms and your face turns bright red. And you bend down to remove the object that has imbedded itself in your tender foot.

Damned Lego.

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