Navel gazing, but further north


Akiva has been saying he wants to cut his hair short.  It’s been a week or two that he’s been talking about it.  Although the long hair really suits his personality, he routinely gets mistaken for a girl and it’s grown tiresome for him.  He’s spoken about it consistently enough that we made an appointment for him to go on Friday and have it cut.

I am having much more trouble with this decision than I imagined I would.  When he decided to grow it long, it was easy for me to say, “Well, it’s his hair, he can wear it as he wants.”  Now that he wants it short, though, I realize that I’ve grown quite attached to his having long hair.  For me it’s bound up in how much I value non-conformity, and in how much I want not to buy in to cultural gender norms for their own sake.

I’m realizing that it matters to me much more than I want it to.  I’ve grown attached to the notion that I’m raising this iconoclastic kid who does what he feels and doesn’t get influenced by superficial concerns.  It’s part of my self-image to have a son with long hair.  (Gideon remains strictly a peachfuzz kind of guy!)  Akiva’s long hair is a signifier of his individuality, his comfort with both his (stereotypically) masculine and feminine sides, his hippie cool boychik cred.  It bespeaks his creativity, his cool, his ability to hear his own drummer.  I’m his mother and I know him best, and he’s really in his tie-dyed soul a long-haired kid.

Plus I just love his hair.  I love being able to run my hands over it.  I love seeing it flop all around when he runs.  I love the way it tickles my neck when he gives me a big hug.  I even kind of love the rats nest in back that’s so tangled up he can’t possibly comb it.

I have been honest with him that I want him to be happy with his hair, but that I will miss the long hair.

Tonight he finally admitted that he feels the same way.  He really likes his hair and will miss it when it’s gone, but he’s just tired of being mistaken for a girl.

It’s still the same old story.


2 thoughts on “Navel gazing, but further north

  1. Issacsmom

    My gf had kept her son’s hair long (quite a bit longer than your son’s) and when he was 6, I think, he started complaining about being mistaken for a girl. She noticed that it happened more often when he was dressed very boyishly. Like people were really sort of asking if he were a boy or a girl. So she bought him a couple of girl’s blouses and discovered that when he was wearing those, no one ever questioned his gender. And when they didn’t, he wasn’t bothered by it. And doing that frequently, she managed to keep his hair long for several years more.

    Of course, it didn’t hurt that she REALLY wanted a girl when he was born, he was a very pretty boy, and if she could have gotten away with it, she’d have put him in dresses, too!

    But it’s just hair and it doesn’t really matter how long it it. Long as everyone is happy.

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