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.
Maybe a pixie cut is in order? Then it can be feminine, masculine or just as fantastic as desired.
I’ve got masses of super curly but fine hair so I rock a bun most of the time. But as a kid in the 80’s…. I had a terrible hair cut (think blue haired grandma) and then my mom tried to fix it. It got worse and worse until eventually my youngest brother got involved. I rocked a pixie cut for a long time, he helped keep it tidy while it grew out.
I never cut my own hair, but I’ve had to cut others hair and some of them end up looking like Marine Recruits….
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Such a great idea. And love the vision of you rockin blue hair 80’s halo of curls!!
You’ve known me FOREVER! The only reason I had short hair until jr high was because I cut my hair when i was younger so my parents wouldn’t let me have longer hair! SO, everyone thought I was a little boy instead of girl…
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Such a tragic (and funny?) story! I guess you WERE one of the few girls I always knew to have short hair! Loving reading your blog, S. what adventures you’re having! I’m so glad to be reading along.
I decided to cut my own hair sometime in my teens. I remember proudly telling people what I had done. The reactions (the looks, if not the words) told me to put those scissors away for good.
Unrelated to hair, when I was old enough to talk I made it clear that I wanted a doll. This did not go over well with my father. No dolls appeared. Years later I wanted a G.I. Joe, which, to my dad, was probably seen as just another ploy to get a doll; to him just a Barbie wearing battle fatigues and carrying a M16. But hey, my best friend Denny had a G.I. Joe, so what was the problem? After much whining, I finally got the darn thing, and played war games with Denny for a few weeks. I then decided I wanted to make a marionette (!) so I pulled the legs and arms out as far as I could (not easy to do), and cut the elastic cords that held it all together. My brother thought I was insane. I couldn’t figure out how to make a marionette, so I just kept the pieces in a shoebox.
If there is a moral to this story, I haven’t a clue what it might be.
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This is the greatest comment, ever. Thank you for sharing every BIT of this!
I was in kindergarten. Loooong hair. Cut holes in it and all, my mother cried. So she told me, I don’t remember any of it 😃 Did have to get a boy cut, and picture day came up shortly after so it’s captured for all eternity. Looks hideous and I’m glad I don’t remember myself 😋 Let your kiddo have his bangs if he’s happy with it 😊 He won’t remember and everyone else will get over it 👍🏻 💓 Life is too short to fuss over every little detail 😊
I took the scissors to my hair at about age 5. I didn’t like what I had done to it. Mom tried to even it out a bit. What does he say when he sees a picture of himself with the ragged cut? What if you show him a before and after?
This was a funny post. Got a good laugh thank you for sharing.
The first 40 years of parenting are the hardest.
Every parent on the planet will take one look at the child’s crazy hair and know exactly what happened.
Then they will smile knowingly and remember when they went through the same thing.
Not that that makes it easier right now. My advice: grin & bear it.
Please, please, please… for the love of all things the make me giggle can we get a glimpse on Instagram?!? Most people will probably find it charming and that may make you either get over yourself or go a bit more crazy! I had a BAD perm in the 5th grade if that makes you feel better and I had long bangs that disappointingly would not stay up 80s style even with a can of aquanet. For shame.
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Oh, aquanet. So funny. Believe it or not, I had to draw the line at publishing his pic for all the intrawebs to see. He’d truly kill me. But thx for prodding! (And sharing)
You know I cut my own hair on saturday. To fix the $80 haircut I got on thursday.
I had my 14 year old daughter correct a professional haircut her brother got. He ended up looking great. I feel better knowing I didn’t spend $80 on the original cut.
[…] 4yo cousin’s pink bathing-suit-with-attached-tutu. And it was all fine. His new short haircut (see here) drew some double-takes, but, overall, it was […]
My darling brother decided in kindergarten that his bangs were too long and cut them back… with fingernail clippers. Perfect line. Missed his calling as a stylist.
Lol! Thanks for reading and commenting. Poor bangs. They get so little respect in the world of little kids!
OMG. I woke Just this morning (!) to strands of long brown hair littering the floor of my 12-year old son’s bathroom. He, too, has gorgeous, long, surfer-dude, make-the gals swoon, hair. Alas, he is a very young 12…sooooo not there yet. Where he IS is trouble falling asleep, impulsive, and , as an only, doted upon child, just now venturing out into the world of “I can do this myself.” Which he did. At approximately 335 am this morning. If there is such a thing as”worse than a mullet,” we are there. Imagine taking the scissors and cropping close to the scalp (about 1/3” left?) in a narrow band from hairline going back maybe 1”… from temple to temple. The remainder of his hair touches below his shoulders. “It was bugging me.” It IS totally practical— he has long hair, and yet it no longer gets in his eyes. One of us thinks it looks good, the other is slightly queasy. My husband has been awake for an hour and bless his heart, hasn’t noticed yet. It’s all a good story now- until the vicious seventh graders tear into him tomorrow!
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Argh!!!!! Why can’t they just do what we want them to do all the time!?!? How was the next day? (insert wincing emoji, here) Thanks for reading and sharing that story. We are still growing out. Picture day was the other day. My kid basically has a cropped mullet. (eye roll)