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Our eldest daughter, Abigail (Abbie), has recently finished year 8 (she is 13), a teenager with raging hormones, at a girl’s grammar school in England. She was a very sweet girl but as she hit the teenage years has got very lippy and will argue with you all day.

There were no problems in year 7, but in year 8 there were issues over her refusal to obey the school’s uniform code. She would leave the house in the correct uniform, the tie is a particular problem, but by the time she reached school she was found wanting. It was not so much the uniform but that she was prepared to answer back that got her the occasional detention.

She has (had?) thick sandy blond hair which was to the top of her shoulder blades and invariably she either wore loose or far more often tied up in a pony tail. One Tuesday, about four weeks ago, I had a day off from work and went to pick her up from school. The bell sounded and the building vomited scores of girls. I watched them exit and the first thing I noticed was the hair. 90% of the girls had long hair, most of them tied in bewildering variety of ponytails. There was the odd loose hair and the odd plait or French plait but it was astonishing how little the hairstyles varied. The rare girl that had curly or short hair immediately stood out and this attracted my attention.

`Hi Mum,’ broke my reverie as the car door opened and Abbie settled inside.

I noticed she grasped the envelope carrying her end of school year report. I drove off with the memory of all that uniform long hair and started to plot in my mind.

Later the same evening after our evening meal, Gareth (my husband) gave his verdict.

`It’s a sound report, Abbie, you’ve done pretty well.’

She swelled at this praise.

`Abbie, there’s this sharp comment from your form tutor about your uniform and your habit of answering back,’ I interrupted.

`He doesn’t like me, he always goes on. He does my head in.’

`Abbie, sweetie,’ I said in my best Dolores Umbrage manner (if you’ve seen the latest Harry Potter film). `Would you say that you like to stand out and look distinctive and this is where your uniform problems lie?’

`Yes Mum, that’s a good way of putting it,’ she responded.

`Well, I’m sure we can reach a solution to our little problem,’ I simpered.

She skipped out without a care in the world.

Next morning I phoned our local hair salon and spoke to Melanie the stylist who did mine and Abbie’s hair. I outlined my plan and told her the style I thought would look good on Abbie and I gave her advance warning of the possibility of a tantrum.

She laughed, `I’ll look forward to it, the style you’ve chosen should look really good on her – I’m sure she’ll come to love it.’

I made the appointment for 9am Saturday.

Friday night I told Abbie that I’d made a hair appointment for her the following morning and that her Saturday lie-in was going to be curtailed.

She was ready the next morning and off we went on the short walk to the shops, on the walk Abbie went on about how her ends needed trimming and how she was thinking about having a few long layers put in, she badgered me about highlights, this is something I had absolutely vetoed, quite a few of her form had them and was another point of friction. I had a hard time trying not to laugh or give the game away in some other manner.

We reached the salon and Melanie greeted us.

`Hi Abbie, come this way and put this gown on.’

Abbie did as she was told and was escorted to a seat, the salon was still quiet and we were the first customers to arrive.

`Perfect if she throws a tantrum,’ I thought.

I followed them to the seat, this is something I always did when she had her hair trimmed.

Melanie fluffed up Abbie’s blond sandy hair and gathered it in a ponytail, then she turned to me without giggling, she was playing her part well.

`What’s it to be today then?’

`I was thinking of something that will stand out, something distinctive.’ I said, slowly and deliberately.

`What’ll that be?’ Melanie responded, without emotion.

`I think a Pixie cut would look really good on her,’ I replied, watching Abbie’s face in the mirror.

There was a look of horror on Abbie’s face and her mouth opened to protest and I was fully prepared for a scene. Then you could see the cogs in Abbie’s brain whirr and she realised how neatly she had been trapped. Her open mouth gradually closed and she gave a wolfish grin and slowly, very slowly she bent her head to allow Melanie to cut off her ponytail.

I went to sit down while Abbie had her hair washed and she was a perfect angel while her hair was cut short. Melanie dried Abbie’s hair and held out a mirror and I could tell Abbie really liked the cut. It wasn’t too severe over her ears and collar but it looked very cute and suited her face perfectly as I suspected it would.

They were done and Abbie came to me with a big smile on her face. I paid and tipped Melanie and thanked her giving her a big wink in the process. She gave me a sly grin in return.

`Abbie will now need to have her hair cut regularly to keep her style looking sharp, bring her in again in about five or six weeks.’ Melanie explained.

We said our goodbyes and Abbie and I set out on the walk home.

`That was a real neat trick you played Mum, how did you think of it?’ Abbie said on our walk

`Well, I watched the girls come out of school when I picked you up this week and noticed how similar all your hair was, also we’re fed up about this uniform nonsense and I thought this haircut would make you stand out.’

`It’s brilliant,’ she gushed, `I’d never have thought of a short haircut, none of our class has one – I could be a trendsetter – I’ll be the stand out girl on Monday.’

She patted and preened her new short hair all the way home and the first thing she did when she arrived home was to invite her friends to view it and she revelled in being the centre of attention.

When Abbie arrived home from school on the Monday you could tell she had been on an ego trip all day.

All this was four weeks ago, we’re now getting close to the next trim. I heard her on the phone to one of her friends saying she would like it a lot shorter next time and would like the back and sides clippered. I did not plan for her to look like a boy.

Have I been too clever? Are we in for another argument?

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