Kids, Wigs, and Truth in Midlife

Ms.Wester, did you get highlights in your hair?”

Why yes, I did.”

Oh good! It looks way better than that plain old regular color you usually dye it.”

That kind of bold and sassy commentary was par for the course among the second-grade girls in my class over the years. When I taught third grade before that, it was worse.

“Ms. Wester? Are those pants too little?”


I ran into that third-grade student 12 years later. I’d walked into a waxing salon to check in for my Brazilian bikini wax appointment. A “waxing specialist” emerged from the back.

“Ms. Wester?! Hiiii!!”

Oh hell no.

Then there was the time I was conferencing with a third-grade student first period, after earlier gulping down my morning travel mug of coffee.

“Ms. Wester…you know…sometimes we can brush our teeth in the morning, but later when we get to school our breath still stinks.”

I quickly got an Altoid.

I’ve been reminded of these funny episodes of blunt childhood honesty lately, as I continue to figure out life in Portugal. Here, as everywhere, a child will let you know the truth adults will not.

An old joke:

If a man tells a person they're ugly, he's just mad at the person.

If a woman tells a person they're ugly, she's just jealous of the person.

If a child tells a person they're ugly, they're ugly.

I’ve been practicing my Portuguese as much as possible. Conversation, reading material, videos and music, and my study workbook with app usually make up a large chunk of my day. Several times, Portuguese adults have commented I am speaking very well for a newcomer.

But then there’s my 6-year-old nextdoor neighbor. The one who lent me her children’s books so I could practice Portuguese by reading aloud to her. Her eye rolls, bug eyes, head shaking, face palms, and scrunched-up “Huh?” face when I talk tell a different, more accurate story.

This face doesn’t lie.
These children’s books are not easy. They have complex sentences and vocabulary, and are meant to be read aloud to young children by adults. I got a little cocky with Tambor and his found egg…and then came the veterinarian book. Jeez. There were muitos groans and frowns during that read-aloud.

Our village has a senior citizens center that offers weekly Portuguese lessons for foreigners over 60. The center also offers Portuguese lessons for native seniors in the village who can’t yet read or write. I begin the in-person course for foreigners — which started in September and runs through next June, following the local academic calendar — next Tuesday (terΓ§a-feira). My goal is to be able to read the veterinarian book to my young neighbor without eliciting any eye rolls.

The other thing I’m learning is how to style my ocean-sprayed Black hair. I stopped straightening my hair with chemical relaxer before I left the U.S., and transitioned my pixie cut to a curly ‘fro that can be flat-ironed for a different look. But my curly ‘fro products weren’t working here thanks to the salty humidity, I’m guessing. Flat-ironing wasn’t working either. I was proud of myself, though, because I’d anticipated hair difficulties, and had splurged on a human hair pixie wig that I thought looked pretty close to my salon flat-ironed hair.

After weeks of wearing my fave hat everywhere I went here, I finally got the nerve to pull out the wig (peruca). My peruca and I strutted outside and soon my 90-year-old neighbor’s sweet wife exclaimed, “Ooo…cabelo lindo!” Now, I’m guessing she’s in her 70s, and her eyesight is better than mine judging by how detail-oriented she is. So I take her compliment to heart, then tell her it’s a peruca. Next, a friend here gives me thumbs-up when she sees me sporting my new peruca. I’m feeling pretty good about this.

Salon hair, right. Peruca, left.

And then I see my 6-year-old neighbor.

Her face told me all I needed to know. The truth. I didn’t have my phone or camera to snap her expression, but it was something like this:

So, of course, I started rethinking the peruca thing.

Maybe it does have an Eddie Munster vibe to it. The curly ‘fro wigs I’ve tried all had too much hair. Maybe this one does too. Jeez.

Luckily for me, Amazon Spain to the rescue. I ordered boxes of different products, hoping they would rescue my brittle natural hair.

And they did.
Kid-approved? We’ll find out this weekend.

Feliz seixta-feira (happy Friday — days of the week aren’t capitalized in Portuguese) from sunny Portugal. May your weekend find you smiling at happy truths. πŸ’œ

All images are my own.

The Hot Goddess

Instagram: retired_rewired_inspired

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  1. Looking good lady! BTW, I wouldn’t get too worried about the feedback from kiddo, kids are very opinionated. My 15-year-old granddaughter has a completely different outlook on fashion and looks than her10-year-old sister. Littler girls can have peculiar tastes, so just do you!

    Liked by 1 person

  2. I love your kid stories – HILARIOUS!! But I have a hard time imagining you as a “senior” although the lessons sound great. And I like the new hair – beautiful in any climate!! ❀ ❀ ❀

    Liked by 1 person

  3. Oh, Natalie, I love everything about this post, from your quotes reminding us of how β€œhonest” kids can be to your great hair looks. I especially love the many connections you’re already making in your new home. Your neighbors must be very pleased to have you in their midsts!

    Liked by 1 person

    • Jane, thank you so much! πŸ’œ It is fun making connections here and I’m beyond grateful to the people here who continue to help me. A new local friend told me about the senior classes. Such beautiful vibes here 😍

      Liked by 1 person

  4. You do realize no matter how you wear your hair, it doesn’t affect your naturak beauty. Why not just stay natural ? Kids. I remember being in a Hollywood Video back in the and some kid pointed at me and said “Mommy that lady is really fat” she was half right πŸ™„πŸ˜‘ i was really fat.

    Liked by 1 person

    • Thank you, Matt! I’m thrilled to have figured out how to rescue my natural hair from whatever is going on in this climate. Also love the versatility to mix it up when I feel like something different. Kids…right? I’m still smarting from when my young son told me, “Mom, watching you stand up from sitting is like watching Transformers.” Yeah? I’m Transformers 3 – Ultra now! 😜

      Liked by 1 person

  5. Natalie. This has made me LAUGH OUT LOUD! You’re right. Kids don’t lie. That’s why I love them.

    Do you have time for a brief story? I teach education courses, and one time, I had a student who wanted to be an elementary teacher. Shehad psoriasis, but I didn’t know it was psoriasis. I thought she had some sort of disease (shame on me). Anywho, ill-informed, I asked her was she okay and if she needed to leave because she was sick. She was appalled and it ended up being a big deal that included my director. Eventually, I ended up telling her she was gonna have to have thicker skin (no pun intended) if she wanted to teach elementary-age children, because they were gonna say MUCH worse things than what I did lol

    Liked by 1 person

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