Perhaps it is because St. Patrick's Day is imminent. Perhaps it is because Spring is almost upon us and the little green shoots are starting to push through. Perhaps it is because tax season is here and we're thinking about money.

Whatever the reason, I'm feeling green. The part of my background that is Scotch-Irish has come to the forefront this week.

I recall a student in my high school when I was the principal. She came to school the week of St. Patrick's Day with bright green hair. Before she even sat down in homeroom, her teacher said, "Go to the office."

When she arrived in my office, my secretary buzzed me on the intercom and said, "Wait until you see this." Of course, I immediately walked out into the main office and beheld the green locks in all their glory.

What were my options? Let her go back to homeroom and spend the day disrupting every class that she attended? Call her parents and have them take her home for a shower? Send her to the gym shower so that she could wash out the dye and return to class?

After some discussion with the wanna-be leprechaun, she and I agreed that a gym shower was the best choice. She went willingly to the shower, washed out the dye and returned to class.

Another principal might have suspended her, but that was usually my last choice. Giving high school students a free day at home didn't seem like much of a punishment to me.

I tell you this story because it fits the "greening" of the time. Plus, it reminded me that green hair is just one way that kids can disrupt the learning process.

I have found it to be a fact that people will pay attention to differences. But, they will only pay attention for a short period of time. Once they get used to something - even someone with bright green hair - the novelty wears off and they look for something new to entrance them.

But, if a major fuss surrounds the difference, then a problem arises. Perhaps the leprechaun's homeroom teacher should have ignored the green hair and just gone about the morning routine without a word. Who knows? The rest of the class might have ignored the hair also.

Remember - negative attention is better than no attention at all. Young people are needy when it comes to being the center of attention. After seeing the green hair, some other student might just dye her hair purple for Easter or orange for Halloween.

Young people throughout the ages have challenged authority with their flaunting of habits and customs. When I was 16-years-old, my parents would have killed me if I put green dye on my hair and went to school like that. Times have changed.

Look at all the body piercing and tattoos that are in fashion now. Self-expression takes many forms in today's world. Our older generation can't help but stare and wonder at the young people who decorate their bodies.

Dr. Seuss wrote a great children's book titled "Green Eggs and Ham." I know if I went into a restaurant and was served green eggs, I would not be happy. But, if my waitress had green hair and pierced body parts, I wouldn't care as long as the food was good.

IF YOU WOULD LIKE TO CONTACT DR. SMITH, SHE CAN BE REACHED AT HER EMAIL ADDRESS: JSMITH1313@CFL.RR.COM OR IN CARE OF THIS NEWSPAPER.