The art of being Californian, it seems, is to cultivate a loose-limbed insouciance while secretly working away like a frantic ant.

--Richard Fortey The Earth: An Intimate History

Tuesday, October 30, 2012

Long-Haired Hippie People

Since we've moved back to San Diego, my son has experienced a significant number of people's mistaking him for a girl. Granted, he does have beautiful long blond hair that any girl--nay woman--would kill for, but it seems odd that we've never encountered this
phenomenon before in Monterey. Did his hair hit a critical length that screams feminine despite his Star Wars shirts and dirty jeans? I wonder if people look at him and think what I think about Shiloh Pitt: "that poor little girl whose parents force her to wear boys' clothes."

I will miss this so much when he decides to cut it.
I love my son's long hair. I think it fits his vibrant personality. I think it makes him so much more him. When we cut his hair (and yes, we do cut it), he loses a teeny tiny bit of that devilish spark that I love so much. A small part of the twinkle goes out of his eye.
But despite my obvious bias, he also has another influential adult in his life who is not in love with long hair: his father. And together, my husband and I decided that my son gets to decide how he wants his hair. Sometimes he likes it shaved close like Daddy. Sometimes he gets a little boy cut. Sometimes he grows it out. We always remain open to when he wants to change his hair, saving our "Do What We Want Because We Are Your Parents" card for something a bit more important--like that neck tattoo.

Still, I like to reiterate to my son from time to time that he does have the option to cut his hair. Especially because I am so vocal on loving it long and didn't want him to think he should keep it long even if he was uncomfortable about being thought of as a girl. So, after about the 47th "oh your little girl is so cute" comment, I asked him if he wanted to cut his hair and if he was bothered by people's mistaking him for a little girl.

"No," he said, sounding almost puzzled. "I know that I'm a boy. I don't care what they say."

"Besides," he continued. "I want to grow it out to here," playing his hand on his lower back, "so that I can cut it to celebrate my century."

"Your century?" Had he taken some weird Nazarite vow to never cut his hair until he was 100 years old? Even I was a little put off by hair grown out that long.

"Yeah, you know, when I turn ten."

"Oh, your decade."

"Yes, my decade. I'm going to grow it out until my decade and then it'll be long enough to donate."

And this was the point that I shut my mouth. At my son's age, if I had been mistaken for the opposite sex, I would have been devastated. Here my kid is intentionally growing out his hair so that he can donate it to some other kid who doesn't have any.

I'll admit I was a little bit bummed.

Despite my big talk of its being his decision, I thought he was growing it long because I liked it.