My son is a free spirit. He dances, sings, and smiles most of the day. He’s a very busy boy who loves to run and jump yet never misses an opportunity to snuggle and cuddle. When I pick him up from daycare I hear about how much he enjoyed the day’s activity. Regardless of whether it’s music, gym, cooking, art, or what have you, he’s fully engaged, the walking definition of joie de vivre. There’s even a bounce to his step, which I think is him marching to an off-beat drum only he can hear.
And his hair suits his personality. It’s either light red, strawberry blond, or ginger ale depending on the lighting at the time and personal opinion. Maybe because I’m afraid he’ll lose some of his Bohemian charm, or perhaps some vaguely Jewish superstition tied to the story of Samson & Delilah or the tradition of not cutting a boy’s hair until the age of three, but I just can’t bring myself to chop his lovely golden locks. I’ve snipped a strand or two that was getting in his eyes but for the most part his hair has been growing wild and untamed. Pretty much like him.
There’s going to be plenty of time in the future for rules and social norms to make him self-conscious about his appearance. And yet, society is doing its best to encroach on it. I can’t count how many people we come across at school, stores, and restaurants who ask me when I’m going to cut it. When they ask, I respond that I’ll cut it when he asks me to. Yet beneath my standard reply, I’m often annoyed because I sense their question is not born of simple curiosity; it’s accusatory. Why do you care? Is his hair offending you? Do you think I’m a bad mother for letting my son sport long hair? I don’t get where their disapproval is coming from, but I suppose that people dislike nonconformity by nature.
So, I have decided to replace my standard reply. From now on whenever I’m asked when I’m going to cut my son’s hair already, I will ask in return: when will you be trimming your [nose / arm / upper lip] hair? That ought to get them to understand how rude and insinuating their question is. Alright, alright, I won’t really do that. Fighting fire with fire can only end with a lot of burned bridges. If I’m going to let my son be a nonconformist, then I suppose I need to start practicing how to gracefully handle others’ judgment and criticism. But I can tell you one thing, the hair’s here today, and there’ll be hair tomorrow.