At first, his hair grew slowly. He was mostly bald as a baby, but with that soft, mossy baby hair that you just want to kiss and sniff for all of eternity.
Then, when he was a toddler, it began to grow out a little more. As it started to drift into his eyes, I thought, “Soon we’ll have to cut his hair, and I’ll be sad.” He was my second child, my last child. If I could have, I would have kept him a baby forever.
I found that the hair that fell in front of his eyes wasn’t much of a problem, though, and despite questions from relatives (and sometimes strangers), I decided not to cut it. Not yet.
Then, as he approached the very opinionated age of 3, he told us he didn’t want it cut — at all.
I remember thinking, “Oh, but it’s really getting long now. It’s flying around as he runs through the park. He’ll want to go to the barber shop just like his dad and big brother do.”
To this day, he insists that he wants it long; that he likes it that way. What’s more, he cries if anyone even suggests that we cut it.
I look at him and think: it’s beautiful. It’s him. It’s everything that defines him right now. His long, lithe body as he spins around in a circle, his hair spinning with him. His bouncing, jumping, leaping self — dressed up in a sparkly cape, those wild, golden locks trailing behind him as he fights the imaginary villains in the hallway.
Yes, sometimes people mistake him for a girl. I’ve had whole conversations with people referring to him as “she.” Sometimes I correct them. Other times I just let it slide — like when we’re standing in the check-out line at the grocery store, and I’m just trying desperately to get out before my “daughter” overturns every single box of candy and gum.
Right now, being called a girl doesn’t seem to faze him. Looking wild and unkempt means nothing to him. Even though we’ve told him, he’s pretty unaware that most boys his age have gotten haircuts. He wants long hair, “just like Mommy.”
I am in love with his innocence, the simplicity behind his reasons for keeping it long. Part of what strikes me (and sort of rips me in two) is that I know it will not always be this way. I know he will soon hear something from TV, preschool, his big brother’s friends — something will teach him that long-haired boys are an anomaly.
Someday he might even begin to feel a twinge of embarrassment for having long hair. He’ll realize he’s different. Or worse than that — strange, weird, “too girly.”
Chances are, he’ll decide to get his hair cut before that happens. Summer’s coming, and when it gets hot, he might prefer his neck free of hair. He seems to want to copy everything his big brother does; so he may want to get a buzz-cut, the kind his brother gets each summer.
There are some things I need to control for him as a parent. Lots, really. There are so many times every day that I have to put my foot down and say, “No, it really has to be my way.” Ice cream for breakfast? Nope. Throwing all the soapy bathwater onto the floor? Are you kidding me? Going out in subzero temperatures without a coat? Absolutely not!
But this — this is for him to decide. His hair, choice. He can grow it out as long as wants, and I’ll support him. And when the day comes that he’ll want it cut — and I do believe that day will come sooner than later — I’ll support him too.
Although I can’t guarantee there won’t be a few fat tears in my eyes.More On