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After Brooke shaved her head, Guppy and Fran had one of their rare arguments. As Guppy had feared, Fran thought Brooke should be able to 'express herself' and if she really wanted to have her hair like that she should be allowed. Guppy thought there was no way Brooke should be allowed to get away with shaving her head without permission.

In the end, Fran took Brooke firmly by the hand and stormed off with her to a late night hairdresser.

By the time she came back, admittedly, Brooke looked less ridiculous. The hairdresser had shaved some of the other side, and cut the top a little shorter.

Nonetheless, by the time they walk into the school playground the next day, all the parents turn and stare at Brooke. Esme-Rose's mum raises an eyebrow.

"More freedom of expression?"

"Mm yeah, this bit wasn't planned." Guppy says, not wanting to get drawn into too much conversation.

"Are you aware that thanks to your younger son, the entire class now calls my daughter 'Elmo'?" Esme-Rose's mum continues.

"I'm sorry, he doesn't mean it, he can't say her name..." Guppy says. "Now if you'll excuse me, I need to have a word with the headmistress."

He takes Brooke up the playground to the head's office. He's decided that the strategy here needs to be united on all fronts. Fran's got her way on the eventual hairstyle, he and the school need to agree on the punishment.

Once inside, he sits Brooke down in front of the head's desk, and explains the story to her. Mrs Patel listens with a sober face. Guppy detects that she is as disapproving of the hairstyle as he feared.

"Well, Brooklyn." Mrs Patel says. "We don't allow our students to shave their hair; boys or girls. It's in the school rules."

Brooke looks a little bit more sober in front of the head than she did in front of her parents. Mrs Patel continues.

"Dr Sandhu, what role has Brooklyn got in the upcoming Christmas Play?"

"She's playing a king." Guppy says.

"Brooke, your punishment is that you will not be allowed to play a king in the play." Mrs Patel says. "I will ask Mrs Donkey to change you to a part where your hair is not seen, like the star. I won't have you representing the school looking like that. If you accept your punishment bravely, and do not cut your own hair again, we will say no more about it."

Guppy fears that Brooke might fly off into a tantrum. But instead, Brooke says meekly, "Yes Mrs Patel."

(What is that woman's secret?)

"Oh, and Brooklyn." Mrs Patel says. "You are not to go boasting about your hair to the other children, or I shall find a bigger punishment."

She lets Brooke go. Guppy lingers for a moment.

"Thank you." He says. "I think that was very fair."

Mrs Patel smiles. "Don't worry about it."

"Is Brooke... is she causing a lot of trouble for Miss Brimstone?" Guppy asks, anxiously. "Because the school has our full support and I would want to know if there's a problem."

"A problem?" Mrs Patel smiles again. "Dr Sandhu, Brooke is a horror at times, but that's entirely normal for a four-year-old; it's your other two who are more rule-abiding than average! I'll speak to Miss Brimstone, but please don't worry."
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