I generally like to think I am a liberal person. I have painted my son's nails when he asks and bought super hero costumes for my daughter. I don't like gender cliches and I would happily debate anyone (and win) who tried to say girls can't do anything boys can do and vice versa. But, like any parent, I also care about what other people think.
This is especially true when it comes to hair. Believe me, I am ashamed of my feelings here, but the truth is, I have always fantasized about a daughter with long hair like Rapunzel . For a long time I had one. My daughter's hair was past her behind until she was about 5 and then we cut it (on her request). Now it hangs in the middle of her back, still long, but much more manageable. But short? Hell no.
As for my son, long hair looks bad. I hate long hair on men. So short hair it would be. Until this past week.
I noticed my baby boy was getting a little shaggy. In the past, I have made appointments for his hair with no real issue. He always looks adorable after and generally does not make a fuss. But not this time.
"Mommy, I want my hair long. I want to wear it in a ponytail. Like a pirate."
I laughed. Because he must be joking, right? Long hair? On my son? I was wrong.
When I looked at his sweet little face, I realized he was serious, indeed. He wanted long hair. The horror!
OMG, No! Not a boy with long hair!
I tried to bribe him. I tried to compel him with promises of sweets and sugar and all nice things. I tried. But I failed. And then I reconsidered. I asked friends. At 4.5, my son can't control much about his life. Why was this such a problem for me? Why couldn't I let him have this one piece of control?
And so I did. I canceled the appointment. That was last week and he has not wavered in his resolve. "I can't wait to have my pony tail," he says, enthusiastically asking me what color band I will put in his hair and how much longer he must wait.
"A few weeks, bud," I tell him. But I am excited now, too. Because he is. It was a tough parenting moment. I want my son to have some autonomy. I want him to be happy with his own hair and so I had to let go of the image I had of him in my head.
This is a huge part of what parenting is all about. We have to let go of OUR ideas about who our kids should be and let them be who they are. My son will have long hair. And a pony tail.
We need to go easy on the judgement. I saw a comment recently from one mom telling another she hated her son's hair. "I hate long hair on boys. It just looks so sloppy." You know what I hate, though? I hate judgemental comments and being mean on purpose to another person based on looks. My son wants long hair. This challenges some of my notions about gender. But I am willing to bend those because I love my kid.
Now, of course, I have also started to look at other boys with long hair and get excited. Once you let go of some of your preconceived notions, things open in a whole new way. He is going to look so cute with his long, blond hair and I don't care what anyone else thinks.
Do you ever change your mind in parenting?