One morning during the week I was sitting out on our back deck with our 3-year-old son drinking my morning coffee and feeding the two rabbits and two guinea pigs we have in our backyard. He was dancing around singing some random song that he just made up about our pets and a few times I noticed him flicking his hair from his brow. Now when I say 3-year-old, let me just qualify that he’s two months short of his fourth birthday as of this weekend. I’m just putting that our their for some perspective.
Last Saturday I took the boys to the local shopping centre and stopped in at the barber because our first born son really wanted to get his hair cut. Last Sunday was his first “game” of Auskick. Auskick for those not in the know is an introductory modified version of Australian Rules Football which was developed to teach children to skills that are involved in the game. Although he didn’t have a problem with his hair getting longer as such, seeing that his fringe was at a length where he found it irritating while trying to focus on catching and kicking a football, especially on the windy night earlier in the week when we went to training, he took it on his own bat to ask me to take him to the hairdresser.
Our first born prefers that I take him to get his hair cut because I let him tell the hairdresser what style he wants. And once he’s told them, or they’ve heard him tell me what he wants, the hairdresser invariably asks me for my approval of the style he’s requesting. Now I’m not one to tell a hairdresser how to cut hair so basically once we’ve agreed on the length of the front, the length of the top and if they’re allowed to take the clippers to the side and back and if so, what level they can use, I leave them to it. I’ve been allowing our eldest to pick his style for over a year as I mentioned in my post Two Things That A Dad Can Get Right. And even though my wife was a little horrified that I allowed him to ask for such a short haircut that time, she grew to love that style he picked before the end of that day.
But back to the younger one. Here’s a recent photo of him with his fringe getting long.
And back to that morning earlier this week when he was dancing on the back deck while I was drinking my coffee…
“Hey mate. Do you want to get a haircut like Cadel did last weekend?”
“No. I want to have long hair like you Daddy…”
And just when I thought we were having a nice father son bonding session he follows it up with;
“I want to be a girl like Daddy.”
I laughed at that comment to show him I knew he was joking about that, but it got me thinking. Around the time that I wrote my post called Would You Change Your Child’s Name If They Wanted You To? where I talked about how headstrong our youngest child is, I had previously planned to write this post about young boys and whether you should let them choose when to get their hair cut, and conversely, whether you should let them decide when to let them grow their hair long.
At that time earlier this year, my wife was on at me about taking our youngest to get his hair cut, but as he had made the decision that he didn’t want it cut, I didn’t pressure him into getting it cut. As I wrote in my post 10 Things Men With Long Hair Hate Hearing, although I myself have long hair, it is not something I would force upon my boys, and I really don’t care whether they want long hair or short hair. All I want is for them to be comfortable with the choice they make themselves about their hair. Of course my wife disagreed with me on that one, so before I could even sit down to begin to draft that post, she took him off and got his hair cut even though he still didn’t want to get it done.
I recently wrote a piece called 9 Reasons Why I Wish I Had A Son and A Daughter. If I was to add a tenth reason to that list it would be “so I could see how differently we treat our son from our daughter.” Of course, you really wouldn’t want to treat each child differently so as to favour one, but in reality, even when you have two children of the same gender, I’m sure that we all still do. But, I’m not talking about whether you give one more of your time, allow one to do more activities, or anything that favours one child over the other. What I’m talking about is whether we would have been happy to have a daughter who would want to play a contact sport, and have a son who wants to do ballet or cheer-leading or something that’s traditionally more of a girl’s activity.
And then, in addition to that, would we be the type of parents to a daughter who says “I want my daughter to have long hair” and we wouldn’t think twice about letting her grow her hair long. I had a friend at high school who told me that her father wouldn’t let her or her sister get their hair cut any shorter than down to the middle of their backs until they were each 14 years old. And I know plenty of other girls from school whose hair remained about that length, possibly for the same reason (parents can be so controlling), or maybe because that’s just what they believe society expected of them. Because, you know, when you want to represent a girl, she’s got to be wearing a dress and have long hair in pigtails or a ponytail, even when she’s wearing a gridiron helmet.
And then, for boys, short spiky hair is the way they are represented in cartoons and comics, and when we’re taught how to draw simple stick figures.
I remember back a few years ago when my wife and I were out shopping with our first born and he had a bit of length in his hair. With his (then) big blue eyes, his pouting lips, and eyelashes that any female model would be envious of, had we have dressed him in a pink dress I’m sure we could have passed him off as a girl, but as we always dressed him in denim jeans or shorts, and some sort of boyish tee or jacket, it was easy to tell that he was a boy. But on this one occasion, as we were finishing our lunch in a café, our son needed to be changed so my wife took him to the restroom while I asked for the bill. The manager of the café came over to give me the bill and as he did he asked me,
“Where did your wife and your gorgeous little girl go?”
When my wife returned to the table, I told her what the manager had said. Before I even had the chance to ask her where we’d be heading to next, she got in first with,
“Let’s go get his hair cut…”
But it didn’t phase me. I didn’t care about a throwaway remark by some random guy. And truth be told, our son WAS indeed gorgeous. In fact, he still is.
Yesterday we visited the local shopping centre again where our favourite men’s hairdresser is, and once again I asked our youngest if he wanted to get his hair cut. And the answer came back as a resounding “no.”
So who am I to suggest that he should get his hair cut when he doesn’t want to. Back when he refused five or six months ago, my wife said that if he didn’t get his hair cut he had to wear hair-clips or bobby pins in his hair to keep hi fringe out of his eyes. And that did not phase him. At the age of three, he hardly is one to think that having to wear one of these clips is shaming him, or making him look like “more of a girl” so as to make him want to get his hair cut. In fact, after I asked him the second time today if he wanted to get his hair cut, he responded,
“Can I just wear a clip in my hair?”
So no, I am not going to force our son to get a hair cut, and I trust that my wife can support his decision on this. ANd I am sure, that when the time comes, when he’s ready and willing, he’ll ask for us to take him to the hairdresser, just like his older brother did.
Do you determine how your kids must wear there hair? Do you have different rules for your son and daughter if you have one or more of each?