It was just over 3 years and my boy’s luscious, curly locks had never been touched by scissors. He wore it free, in braids or pony-tails. For the longest time I was deeply rooted in the decision that his hair would stay long for as long as he wanted it to.
Not just because his hair is gorgeously thick, deliciously curly, bouncy and shiny – but because wearing long hair is a central part of my Anishinaabe beliefs. For myself and many other Indigenous peoples – whether of mixed blood or not – how one wears their hair is not just about personal style and fashion.
Most people are not aware of the symbolic nature hair has in Aboriginal culture.
For a little Anishinaabe boy (or girl), first braids are a huge milestone in exiting baby-hood and entering into childhood. Those braids, ‘all that hair‘...is an extension of their body and spirit, an integral part of their physical armour that helps protect and guide them in their life journey during such formative, delicate years. For me, it was also a symbol in paying homage to all of our Native ancestors who had/have been forced to cut their hair. To live a way of life and practice beliefs that were forbidden for so long.
So why did we make the decision to cut his hair? You may have gleaned by now that it was a hard one. As are many parenting decisions within culturally blended families. It wasn’t about all of the questions as to why we keep his hair long. I’m (almost) used to the constant questions regarding my cultual beliefs and practices. Sure, there are some days that I wish I could silence it all out and continue on my merry way, without having to explain myself to anyone – but that’s not the world we live in.
To cut a young boy’s hair short, to go to the barber in Western / European culture, this is what is considered the milestone in mainstream society. No one thinks twice about questioning why a parent takes their toddler for a hair-cut.
The truth of the matter is that I live a way of life that is still scoffed at today. The residue is grey and sticky from years of big ugly words that make a lot of people feel uncomfortable; like colonization. Genocide. Oppression.
Whoaaaa. Right? This is just a blog about toddlers! Where’s the cute, toungue-in-cheek slideshows comparing toddlers to puppies or frat-boys? We have lots of those in many variations. Not to worry. Down below you will see a cute mini slider of my gorgeous boy who is undeniably on a new chapter in his young life, unbeknowest of the power his locks hold.
On a lighter note, let’s do talk about aesthetics for a minute. I’m a sucker for boys with long hair. If you’ve seen pictures of my partner – case in point.
The reality of the matter is that dude’s hair is THICK. Curly. WILD. Just like his daddy’s. Dealing with that every morning was like climbing Mt. Everest and wrestling with a vulture. Perhaps a slight exaggeration, but still. Pretty dang close. What with the potty-training, and the behavioural challenges we’ve been having as of late – we decided to pick and choose our battles, his long hair unfortunately being one of those battles. Since I’m the only one who can seem to tame his curly locks with the least amount of resistance, it just didn’t seem realistic to keep it long at this point in the game.
Daycare teachers and other family members understandably wanted to keep it out of his eyes, but were put off by the mass of tangles. Understandably. There was a lot of maintenance involved with keeping Wyndham’s hair braided or lassoed in a pony. (All which are acceptable challenges when it comes to taming a little girl’s hair, but I’m not going to go there right now). There are perhaps some other reasons that I gave into, that aren’t sitting the best with me right now, but I’m not going to go there either. Family dynamics. Cultural differences. Respect and love have to win out in the end. Compromise ain’t easy.
Today, many traditional and modern Anishinaabe boys and men wear their hair short and it does not mean they are any less connected to their body, their spirit, their beliefs, or the land. It is a deeply personal choice and cutting one’s hair can either symbolize mourning, grief, or the opposite. It can also represent a rite of passage into a new stage in life – from boy-hood in youth or youth into young adult-hood.
So while the decision to get our son’s hair cut may have been mired in some turmoil, the outcome is down-right handsome and adorable. For him and for us – it can only represent positivity and a sign of his development and independence for the future.
I may have mixed feelings on the whole affair, but one thing is sure – pretty soon my son will have the given power to choose just how he wants to wear his hair and why. All I can do is pass on the teachings and beliefs of his Anishinaabe elders. Or any other religion/belief system that he is drawn to or curious about. Whether those roots flow through his blood-lines or not.
The Chair 1 of 9After being plopped into a race car! With FLAMES! And given bubbles in front of a big screen TV playing Ice Age Dawn of Dinosaurs, dude wouldn't have cared if you cleaned his ears, clipped his toe-nails AND chopped his hair all at once. Not that we did that.
GULP 2 of 9That moment where you (I) tell yourself (me), that bawling out loud would only freak everyone out. So you swallow the tears and act like a goof-ball instead.
Ground Control to Major Tom 3 of 9Somebody? ANYBODY? I told her to cut long, tapered layers. Not short blunt ones. *Grumble, grumble*
Smile! 4 of 9This is Wyndham's 'play camera', and he loves to 'take pictures' of me while I take pictures of him. He also loves to take them using mama's big one and the phone one and using some of the apps to play around with them. Budding photographer. Oh yeah! The big reveal and stuff. What do you think?
Ever Dapper 5 of 9During one of those rare moments where he's not a giant, whizzing blur.
The Look 6 of 9One of his trademark expressions, giving someone or something a solid sideways look.
Style & Heart 7 of 9We're all about the layered knits around these here parts. And boyish good looks.
Natural Swagger 8 of 9My boy has it. I'm learning to not ask him to smile for the camera, which always ends up in an over-the-top-albeit-cute-forced-smile, and letting him just pose for the camera as he sees fit. As for the haircut? Obviously it's grown on me, I mean look at him. How could it not?
Just a Boy 9 of 9And his two bowls of apple cinnamon oatmeal. Growing and stuff. Obviously.
More Babbles From Selena…
- On Getting Toddlers to Eat Their Greens
- 5 Healthy Snacks for Toddlers
- 5 Ways to Keep Fit When You Have No Time
- 6 Potty Training Charts: DIY & Free Printables
- Natural Ways to Treat a Toddler’s Cold/Flu (That actually work!)
- My quest to manage my toddler’s aggression
- Third time’s a charm? Oh potty-training…we’ll conquer you yet!
Elsewhere on the internets…
Via my humble beginnings, mastering in general mayhem: le petit rêve.