T, My Long Haired Fish

We’ve been hitting the pool at my folks house pretty hard. The first couple of days we were down here were tough. T had been fantastic during week one of our trip, but that week was incredibly actioned packed. We quickly learned we needed to tire the hell out of him so he doesn’t act out because he is bored.

In the past he’s been a bit freaked out by the pool, but this trip has been different. He begs to get in even though it isn’t really quite warm enough. But the hot tub has a kid setting of 94 degrees so when C naps we’ve been suiting up and jumping in. Keeping him busy has been working.

Part of the deal is he gets his hair washed days we are in the pool and little man hates to get his hair washed-usually we do it every three days or so. The water down here is super hard and the chlorine isn’t helping anything so little man’s luscious locks are full of snarls. My Mom smartly suggested we get some detangler and I found a natural one at the grocery store yesterday. It makes a fantastic difference.

I love my little man’s hair. I want my little man’s hair. It’s long and curly, Z and I have kept it long because it rocks so hard. People mistake him for a girl all the time, which doesn’t really bother me. I get it. Long hair=girl to most folks. So I gently correct them and hope that T doesn’t notice.

Today my dad took him for his first trip to the driving range to learn how to swing a golf club-another activity to tucker him out. And during the little excursion three people referred to T as “she”. Tonight as I was working the comb through the knots after his bath T said, “My hair makes me look like a girl.” My throat started burning and I had to blink past tears. I told him I didn’t think he looks like a girl, that long hair didn’t mean girl or boy. But I said if he wanted to get his hair cut that it was his choice and we could go do it. He said he did want it cut and I asked how short he wanted it. He pointed to about two inches past his shoulder. “But Baby,” I said, “You hair isn’t even that long now!”

If he wants his hair cut because he is bored with it I’d be sad, but it is his hair and I’d support him. If he just wants it cut because he thinks he looks like a girl it will break my heart. Don’t get me wrong, if he really wants it cut I will make sure it happens no matter the reason. But dude isn’t even 4. I don’t want him to think he needs to act a certain way because he is a boy. I want him to do whatever feels right for him.

Who knows what he’ll think or want tomorrow. The bottom line is I can’t protect him from-oh, the list in endless. From society’s idea of gender roles, from the casual mistakes of others that hurt even though that wasn’t the intent, from expectations others will place upon him, from everything that will make him fear just being himself. We can support him and encourage him to be himself. But we aren’t parenting in a vacuum and it sort of scares the shit out of me.

Dude can now doggie-paddle to the side of the pool if he is wearing his water wings.

amazing hair

His beautiful curls.

C on the boat

C loving Grandpa’s boat.

brothers hugging

A rare moment of the boys not trying to beat the crap out of each other.


12 thoughts on “T, My Long Haired Fish

  1. The awesome thing about hair is that it grows back. My 11-year-old nephew has worn hair like T’s and hair like C’s, and he’s completely well-adjusted. Give yourself a break on this one. 🙂

    • Some friends on FB said very similar things and my comment back kind of addresses your very valid point as well–
      “Point taken, ladies. But it still makes me sad that he thinks he looks like a girl. Or rather, that he thinks looking like a girl=bad. Is it good for him to go against the grain a little? Or am I forcing my own agenda on him? It is just hair, but it’s also about more than that. I’ve been self conscious my whole life. I want him to be secure. I want him to feel good about himself. I want him to think he is rad. I want him to not give a shit what others think. And right now his hair is sort of representative of all that. Which is silly, but there you have it.”

  2. The thing is, have you ever tried giving him a hair cut? I’ve taken C for a hair cut twice, to the massive dismay of the hair stylist person, and have cut his hair myself a couple of times. He will not tolerate it. If I even say the word hair cut he Freaks Out. Do yourself a favor, until T says “I’d like a hair cut,” just leave it alone, and if he gets hot go with a tough guy pony tail.

    • He’s actually had a bunch of trims and he tolerates them. And by tolerate I mean he sits very still with a look of terror on his face. I think I’m going to wait until unprompted he says the words, “I want short hair.”

      It’s funny, judging from the comments here and on FB it seems this is an issue that clearly isn’t one to get all worked up about for most folks, and for T probably. But it really is representative of self esteem, gender issues, the importance of what others think for me personally. I understand his hair length as a three year old isn’t going to define or scar him for life, but it does bring up a lot of uncomfortable emotions for me.

      • By which I mean my first thought is: you go ahead and like pink! My second thought is: don’t tell your grandparents. And my third thought is: why am I having all these thoughts about a crayon?

      • Yes, yes, a million times yes! Same exact thought process.

        And staying with my parents for a month+ is not helping with the “don’t tell your grandparents” bit. I’m happy and grateful to be here, but I know that they don’t agree with choices I’ve made from the small-long haired boy to big-my tattoos to even bigger-I’m a flaming liberal. While I’m comfortable with my decisions and proud of who I am and the family Z and I are raising I still regress when I’m with my parents. And forget regressing, I still desperately want to please authority figures. I’m going to make choices my folks don’t agree with. They don’t even put me through the ringer for it, the guilt comes from me. Perhaps taking my chill pill early is a good idea today…..

  3. Pingback: Hypocrite | Uncomfortably Honest and Honestly Uncomfortable

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