When I became a father, one of the battles I swore to myself I’d never wage was over hair.
A friend of mine's son made hideous teenage hair choices, but his mother once said to me, “My mother made such a big deal of my hair I swore I’d never do the same to my kids.”
I adopted that philosophy. My mom and I went round and round about my hair so very many times. She wanted me to remain the all-American Tom Sawyer with the neatest side part and feathery 1980’s ‘do. But when I hit junior high and discovered blow-dryers and MTV, I follicly rebelled. I wanted Johnny-Depp-21-Jumpstreet hair. That meant much fuller and longer than Mom’s Eisenhower-June-Cleaver standards tolerated. So we fought for years about my hair.
Yesterday, my 5yo had a bout with a pair of scissors and gave himself a haircut.
I’m still apoplectic about it.
Yes, I know self-inflicted hair disasters are a rite of passage for all children. As my partner said, “the only thing missing in this scenario is that tomorrow isn’t school picture day.”
But two things have sent me into a spiral of irrationality:
- My kid had gorgeous hair. He hadn’t gotten it cut since December and it had grown symmetrically and beautifully.
- I’m afraid it looks exactly the way he wants, but because it looks objectively hideous, I don’t know whether to traumatize him with a full “boy” cut, or let him continue his summer with the ugliest “girl-cut-with-bangs” imaginable. I mean – none of our summertime pictures will be useful for Christmas letters, this year. NONE.
I know this situation is all about me. And as I frequently disclaim – this blog entry is my confessional so I can look back on my words, see what an asshole I’m being, and let it go. Hopefully my son isn’t reading these words and hating me, but rather just laughing at my own assholishness. Buddy: I love you, no matter any choice you make (short of killing someone or becoming a Republican). You’re perfect.
No haircut since December. Why? Because of his penchant for all things princess, I once asked him, “Are you a girl, do you want to be a girl, or are you a boy who just likes to wear dresses?”
I admit I approached the question in a fit of frustration with his dress choice du jour, but when I got the words out, I just wanted to communicate honestly. And whatever answer was gonna be fine.
After some thought, he responded, “I want to be a girl.”
“Okay. That’s fine. Can I ask why?”
“Because they get to have long hair.”
“Oh. Well, boys can have long hair, too. Do you want to grow your hair long?”
So we didn’t cut his hair for seven months.
Over the past few months, he’d mentioned he wanted bangs. I was like – ah, hell no. No kid of mine is gonna have some pageboy weirdo framing that beautiful face. Nope. We goin’ for the full California swoop.
There I go – making hair decisions for my son.
Except, PEOPLE! – let’s be honest. He was on his way to exceptional hair. He didn’t need some medieval pageboy helmet surrounding his entire face…with bangs.
And then, yesterday, during what I should have realized was a particularly long amount of quiet time, he approaches me, nonchalantly, to ask for some goldfish.
I responded, “Uh, buddy, I think we’re gonna have dinnersoondearlordwhathaveyoudonewhathaveyoudonewhathaveyoudone?”
“He did it, too,” my son said, pointing to his little brother (who’s hair looked unscathed).
And there we have it.
My son now looks like a crop-banged skid row urchin crawling home from a CBGB party that went all kinds of wrong at around 3:47 AM.
And I don’t know whether or not to change it, because I think it’s exactly what he wanted – long hair in the back, bangs in the front.
The most childish thought I have, right now? – his long hair was helping him look less…um…questionable when I let him wear dresses in public. Now, if I have the barber chop it all off to start back at ground zero, I’m with my son who’s obviously a boy with short hair, but in a dress.
I know, I know, I know. I’m a monster. I’m saying it out loud, now, not so you’ll troll me, but so that I know I need to get over myself. Fear not. But these are my thoughts.
I’m making peace with the wonderful, colorful, eye-opening, beautiful journey my son traverses every day. I love him for all his femininity. And sometimes it’s hard. But it’s really just hard for me.
He’s fine with who he is and what he loves.
So I’m letting the hair go.
Except I can’t. Seriously, he looks like he got in a fight with a drunk chipmunk Edward Scissorhands.
I’ll let you know, later, where we settle. For now – I’m starting to laugh about this situation sooner than I thought possible.
Would love to hear your personal stories of when you cut your hair, yourself, cuz I know: it’s a rite of passage.
I cut mine when I was in 7th grade. Yep. Not when I was 5, but when I was 13. I wore a hat for weeks. But Mom wouldn’t let me get a “bowl cut” circa 1989. So….I did exactly as my 5yo son.