Hair today, gone tomorrow

I can’t remember what led up to my son having long hair. It just happened. His hair is longer than mine, longer than his sister's, longer than any of his friends. He’s constantly chewing on it, and that’s what bothers me about his hair. THE CHEWING. It’s just totally disgusting.

I like his hair. Even if I didn’t like it, it wouldn’t matter. It’s his hair. I don’t have to wear it on my head.  There are people who don’t like hair, and they love to tell him this. They enjoy telling me as well.  It shouldn’t surprise me, but it does. Friends, family and strangers alike, all feel like they can freely express their negative opinions as if they were just making chit-chat about the weather and or how the economy sucks.

Can I just tell you how very much it confuses me when people tell me that THEY would never let their son have long hair? Well, it does. It confuses me. Why do I need to know this? I didn’t ask them any questions or make any comments about their kid. I don’t give my opinion on anything about their kid except a compliment when it is deserved (and sometimes just to be nicely conversational).  I find it even more baffling when a person who doesn’t have children makes a comment about what they would or wouldn’t do about my kid’s hair, if MY kid belonged to THEM. If there was an Olympic event for keeping one’s mouth shut when childless people seek to give advice to those of us raising children, I’d have a gold medal.  I’d be on the Wheaties box for real. I’m that good. It's not worth it to respond to ignorance.

I swear to you that every cliché about kids growing fast has left my lips over the past month. The innocent little momma’s boy who was constantly leaping around the house in superhero underpants is no longer the Velcro child that I thought would truly make me keep to my promise that he and his future wife could live with his father and I forever.  He is growing so fast; physically, mentally, emotionally and spiritually. Soon he and his hair are going to be thousands of miles away.  I can’t let that hair come between us now. There are too many things on the horizon about which we are sure to disagree.

I have made it just over 11 years without any major battles with this kid. He is already chomping at the bit to get the hell out of Dodge, so that he can rock the skating world at UCLA (which is where he is planning to go to college). If I’m going to fight with my son, it’s going to be about something important. I don’t consider the length of his hair to be important. He’s not breaking any rules. What he is trying to do, is to learn how to be comfortable in his own skin and find out who he is.  The fact is that when kids are comfortable, it is easier for them to learn and grow. If having short hair would make it more likely, that he would be more comfortable and learn more, I’d insist on a hack job that would make him look like people think he is "supposed" to look.

What has been truly interesting to both of us, is the way his long hair has highlighted just how hypocritical and rude many people can be. Adults are the worst. We teach our kids to be polite, respectful and considerate, not to stare or make rude comments to people who look different. We tell them to be themselves, and that it doesn’t matter what others think as long as they are being kind and doing the right thing. I’m trying to figure out why these rules don’t seem to apply to certain “grown up” people when it comes to my son’s choice of a hairstyle.

I don’t even attempt to make excuses for the adults who can’t seem to practice what they preach when it comes to breaking all of these rules with their rude, unsolicited, inconsiderate comments and behavior toward my son. I don’t have to. He is wise enough that he explained it to me recently when I was upset, so now we are all good here.  I’m just writing about it because he’s chewing on his hair right now and it’s driving me fucking nuts because like I said before, it’s totally disgusting.

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  • how long has he been growing his hair? do you trim it at all, or does he just chew it off? (haha) i loved when my son had long hair, and when he wanted a buzz cut when he was 7 or 8, i HATED to let him do it, but i did. it's his head, after all. and at 22, his head is screwed on pretty darn straight, longish hair and all.

  • couple of years i guess. we get it trimmed. he went all summer without and it helps since we are broke ass broke. ha! but truly, he likes it long and he's a skater kid and a GOOD kid. ewww, but the chewing makes me gag.GAG. kudos to you, amazona, for having a good kid. i'm pretty sure i'm on my way. xo

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    i think he looks GREAT. and i heartily agree, choose your battles. a haircut is just not worth any hassle. i understand about the chewing, but that will probably pass... he really is adorable.

  • In reply to Elizabeth Wilson:

    xo thanks. i think he's a good human. i can't lie though, if he said he wanted his hair short, i'd RUN to the barber before he could change his mind. bahahahahahahaha.

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    My 8 year old had the exact same hair for most of this past year. Had. Until my mother said something stupid about it being "Girl hair", then the nurse at the ER called him "she" when he injured his foot. SIGH Now, his head is shaved. Not my choice, because like you hair is not a battle I choose to fight. With four kids, I have many many others to choose from. He loved his hair. Planned on growing it down his back. Then he went and played tennis with my mom and said he'd like a hair cut. She asked if she could take him, and stupid me , I assumed she would get him a trim and maybe shape it up a little. Nope, he came back with a GI shave. He says he loves it. I'm glad, but it pisses me right off that his decision to cut it wasn't necessarily his own and was instead influenced by stupid shit adults felt the need to say.

  • In reply to Trisha Durfee:

    i keep thinking that being mistaken for a girl would do it, trisha. nope. no luck. sorry that your mom turned your boy into a GI. the good thing about hair is that it can grow and change, just like our babes, right?

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    I don't think you should keep your mouth shut. I think you should tell them all one of two things, depending on your mood of the day and possibly the location of your children. 1) "He likes it, so it doesn't matter what you think," or 2) "Go fuck yourself." I personally prefer the latter.

  • In reply to Jenny Brantley:

    i also prefer #2. i also like to smile and be quiet and make people wonder if the way i look at them might be able to melt their face off. i mean if i felt like it.

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    My 11 yr old has been growing his 2 years now- started cause he wanted to donate it like his sis & I did. Then he liked it long. He gets assumed to be a girl often, corrects folks, says in private they are silly, stupid or crazy (depending on his mood) and plows on fine. Starts middle school this week- I've wondered what assumptions he'll be greeted with. But he is happy, and beginning to look at shorter styles, so we may soon donate another fat ponytail of great hair (it is sooo thick- I don't know how he doesnt melt!) meanwhile we have another confident boy walking the world who doesn't view hair as a measure of character or gender.

  • In reply to Sonya Ferris:

    sonya, i think we are the lucky ones. for real.

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    I love this! It is all about being secure with yourself and passing that security onto your son. I constantly tell my children who cares what others say or think, as long as you like the way you look and think you look cool, who cares! Judgemental people are the most insecure...lacking confidence and identity. And those people without children saying shit...do not get me started. Clueless.

  • ^^what she said. so many opportunities to learn and be a decent human ,yet so many ignore them. xoxox aimee.

  • Awesome. Well said my friend as always.

  • In reply to teporama:

    thank you, tep, and can i please have a swirl cup?

  • At the risk of being a complete Debbie Downer, my first son died, unexpectedly, at 12 days old. I'd rather have my son, alive and dressing in drag (and he'd only be seven) than in his nice gold box on my shelf. SO... Yeah. Hair isn't something I concern myself with. Neither is what my kids wear. They dress themselves. It rarely matches, but in my mind, they are rock stars, and I treat them as such.
    Also, I found this book in a used book store, titled "I was a better mother before I was a mother". I was stupid and didn't purchase it. I've tried to google it, but it might have been a one time deal. Or my memory sucks. Either way, it's the fucking truth! I should have bought it because most people need a good old reality check with parenthood. I got mine the hard way. Oh, and no one likes the way we raise our kids either. After listening to my oldest talk to his sister about how school will be fun and will she be okay, I don't need their reassurance. I get mine from the source! :)

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    In reply to jkrings:

    Thank you for this comment! I never want to make a list of "it could be worse" for people, but hopefully some of the "dictator parents" will read this, and get a clue! (I have allowed my daughter to be her own wardrobe stylist since she first decided to express her opinion, and even when it was SO AWFUL, I have always praised her for being so creative and pioneering new looks! Children who feel confident absolutely SHINE!

  • In reply to jkrings:

    it seems insincere to say that i'm so sorry for your loss, but i truly am. i need that book. it sounds awesome. peace to you, jk.

  • Sounds like the seventies! when i was a kid went to virginia beach with mom dad and brother and couldn't get served breakfast cuz we were all long hairs!!!

  • In reply to arm504a:

    long hairs. i'm sure you have some amazing stories about that time. i cannot imagine being a parent during that crazy, revolutionary time.

  • just look away.....or say thank you for sharing andwalk away.

  • In reply to arm504a:

    my kid is a professional shoulder shrugger. he just smiles and shrugs. i heart him so much. he's better than most.

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    This is EXACTLY how I raise my children. I have always told them (they are 11 and 6): It is your body and you can do whatever you want to it in order to express yourself. As long as you are not hurting anyone else, and you are doing it because it will make you happy (and no one else) then go for it. People are amazed when they hear this. Apparently, because I gave birth to these wonderful creatures, I should be able to tell them how to dress, wear their hair, and what to feel. Instead of having their own personalities, likes and dislikes, I am to impose my whims on them. PLEASE. They are just small people, learning to get along. I have raised them in the church of be nice, say please & thank you, and don't talk with your mouth full. I only wish other parents were like you and I, because my kids just don't understand the rudeness and meanness of others.

  • In reply to Kelly:

    exactly kell, they are learning to get along. thank GOD there are people like you around. i think it's bad enough when kids have to deal with mean or rude kids, but when it's a grown up? ugh.

  • In reply to Kelly:

    i'm doing my best. i guess since he's only 11 i'm only at the start of my journey of screwing up, but this i think i am doing ok. phew. xo

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    He looks great. My boy has been growing his hair, too. He gets a trim every now and again and the stylist always asks ME how to cut his hair. I just shrug and point to the boy...not my head. : )

  • In reply to DiceyDaisy42:

    EXACTLY DAISY!! that's what i say! ;)

  • I've always let my kids pretty much dress and have their hair however they want. I had long hair until I was about 5 then my mom cut my hair into one of those DISGUSTING bowl cut "pixies" and kept cutting that way until I hit 8th grade when I put my foot down. When my daughter was born I said I would never cut her hair until she asked me to. She didn't ask until she was about 10 and I cried the whole time they cut it. I still have the hair. When she was little and her hair was a mad mess, people would say to me, you have to cut her hair and I would tell them No I don't and since she is my child you don't get a say. I said this to my mom as well. It was only bad when she was little and had a runny nose then it always seemed to end up in her hair? Yuck. Oh well she is 24 now with beautiful hair that she takes care of herself. No longer my job ;p. As always Nicole, love how you write. And I so agree with you.,

  • In reply to Vickiesb:

    thanks vickie. truly. i love to write. love it and it helps to get feedback and support. we need to support each other. i too had the dreaded pixie because i refused to shower and take care of my hair. we just keep moving forward and i love hearing success stories about kids. when people tell me they think i'm a good mom i say, "well, when my kids are 30 and are able to hold a job, have healthy relationships and be good citizens of the world, then i'll accept that compliment."

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    I want to say i love your sons hair! And thank you for your blog! i love it!! Rocking the blonde locks!!

  • shucks, thanks, renee. glad you like the blog. i love writing it and i have to agree about my kid's hair. it's golden-riffic.

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    As a hairstylist (for 24 years now) and as a non-traditional mom and freethinker, I have to say this: THANK YOU!

    People who dictate the hairstyle that their kids wear are infuriating to me. Kids have very little control over anything, and in THEIR WORLD hair can be a very real, and valid, and important form of self expression. Sure, it may look totally stupid...but it's hard to believe that anyone who was alive and "stylish" in the 80's would DARE to deny their own child the opportunity to look like an idiot. I urge people to encourage their kids to do whatever they want to their hair...and document it well. Take lots of pictures, because someday it will be blackmail material, just like our mullet/big bangs/ Jersey-perms/rat-tails... it's a coming of age rite of passage that EVERYONE should be able to experience. And if it is considered defiant and rebellious, all the better, because it could be so much worse. Oppressing the little things like this is just inviting a much larger, longer, and more insane "SNAP!" later on, when they are finally good and fed up with trying to please parents who are too wrapped up in vanity to appreciate their kids desire to be an individual.

    I feel for those kids...and I always take a moment to speak to them privately, and encourage them to be patient with their ignorant parents, and remember that this is temporary, and not worth the drama. Then I make them promise me they will never pull this same shit on their own kids, "because I will always remember this, and I will tell your kids this story! And it will make an ass out of you...then I'll give them the reverse mohawk that they asked for and charge you double!" It helps them to laugh...and I also encourage them to locate pictures of their parents teen years and make a little book of "THIS is the person who decides what looks good" booklet...and it's brilliant...it works like a charm.

  • In reply to Jyl Johnson:

    dictator is a good word to describe the way some people choose to parent. everything about growing up is about discovering ourselves. peeling back more layers to see how what we are jives with the world. i'm so happy that there are people out there who understand just how important it is for kids to have a little power in their lives. xoxoxox

  • My son decided at 5 that he wanted to grow his hair. For all of senior kindergarten he was told by just about every dad he knew that they could cut his hair for him. When he decided to get it cut last July, all the moms he knew cried. He is currently in a growing stage again .. but hates the brushing part. See this album for a documentation of "the cut." https://www.facebook.com/media/set/?set=a.444937621954.233308.577246954&l=bec999adf1&type=1

  • In reply to ehmcke:

    ooooooooooooooo ima check it out.

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    Thank you! Your kid will thank you too some day for letting him be himself, and be different from most of the kids he knows. All your points are right on the money. You cannot sweat the small stuff, and the hair is just that. Also, when it comes to children everyone thinks they are an expert, and yes, people are rude as hell. I think your post has actually made me change my mind about insisting my boy get his haircut. hanks for changing my mind.

  • In reply to Janna Rice:

    i got enough stuff to sweat, janna. just keep it neat and clean and you'll both be happy.

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    My son had very long hair for a few years. It got the attention of girls and others because it was so beautiful; long, blonde, silky and soft. My husband thought it was ridiculous and I could never understand why. He finally cut it because he wanted a job and they required it.

  • In reply to Kris Cunningham:

    my deceased brother in law would say, "damn, that's just the MAN keeping me down," in response to the mandatory haircut, but i'm a true believer in getting along and following the rules. sometimes the rules aren't fun, but hair grows back, right?

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    My husband is bald, his dad is bald and his grandpa was bald. At the ripe old age of 18, the hubs started losing his hair. We've lost count as to how many times we've heard "You know that baldness comes from the mother's side"...yeah...not so much in this family. Enter darling son...he didn't get his first hair cut until after the age of two...not because we were growing it, but because the damn shit just didn't grow...at the age of 5, the kid has never really had bangs. He has his hair buzzed right now because he likes it, but was rockin' a serious 'hawk over the weekend...again because he LIKED it. It's fucking hair people...who gives a shit what they do with it...as the hubs tells him all the time...do whatever you want with it, make it whatever color, because I know what style you're going to end in the end. Go on with your awesome self Nic...and tell the rest of them to fuck off.

  • In reply to Diana Dush:

    bald can be very beautiful. sexy..........just my opinion. i think my spawn is probably headed in that direction. another reason to let him have hair now.

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    In reply to Nicole Knepper:

    Absolutely SEXY! :)

  • This is awesome! While my kids hair might fall under the blanket of social acceptability, there are so many other aspects of my parenting that led me to nod my head the whole way through this post. I too, have a sign on my forehead that says "Give me unsolicited advice" and I wish I could print this out and hand it to every nibby busybody I encounter.

  • In reply to SurvivingFive:

    we should make t-shirts...........now i'm thinking. ;)

  • If you ever want to maximize the amount of unsolicited parenting advice you get, do what I did and adopt an older child from foster care. Ugh. EVERYBODY thinks they can do it better than I am. Never mind that I took a 7-year-old kid who was so completely WILD that she'd been recommended for special ed because of how disruptive she was in a regular classroom. Never mind that the previous two homes she'd lived in changed their minds about adopting her because of how WILD she was. Never mind that this same kid who is now 10 gets straight A's, practices piano an hour a day (and plays beautifully), plays sports, is about to earn her green belt in karate, participates in 4-H, and sold 1,572 boxes of Girl Scout cookies this year. She's happy, she's got friends, and she loves school. I guess I must not be as entirely ignorant as everyone thought I was.

    Oh yeah, and about the hair. When she was put in foster care, she had lice so bad that they had to shave her head. Now that it's grown back, she's sensitive about having it cut. Her last foster home made her keep it short so she wouldn't chew it. Now that she's mine, I've said she can wear it however she wants to, but it does have to be clean. Once some other things in her life settled down, she quit chewing it, that and I said, "If you're going to chew your hair, you can expect me to get that look on my face and probably gripe about it, so if it's worth it to you, go for it, and if it's not, then stop."

    So she's grown it out really long and donated it, now it's getting longer again and I think she wants to donate it again. Gotta say that when she was going to donate it, it was my job to mail it in, and I hated to put that ponytail into that envelope. It was like putting a hand or a foot in there. Didn't think it would feel that way, but the ponytail was so "her". I could've picked her ponytail out of a pile of random ponytails. But I mailed it in anyway, and she got a nice thank-you card from the organization. Now I think she's going to be a hair farm and keep growing it and donating it. Whatever. With all the other issues we've had to deal with (ADHD, OCD, PTSD, the afteraffects of severe neglect and abuse), hair doesn't even make the crisis list.

  • In reply to abengel:

    i used to work with foster kids and wards of the state. it's not easy getting them stable and in a place where they can trust what tomorrow will bring. good for you for giving her back some power in a powerless life and encouraging her to find herself. you are one cool chick in my book.

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    as the mother of a 14 year old boy with aspergers syndrome, i learned early and well to pick my battles, and hair has never been one of them. there have been some necessary clothing and language restrictions, but he's always had free reign when it came to his hair. it's been long, short, buzzed, blue, green, mohawked, spiked, and bleached. his choices often make me smile, and i could give two shits about anyone else's opinion of what's appropriate hair for a boy. my favorite response to, "why did you let him do that?" is, "well, we discussed it the other day over shots and bong hits, and it seemed like a good idea." .

  • In reply to Riki Shiffler:

    oh you have GOT to learn early when they have the stubborn as all get out aspergers. the battles you could have vs. the battles you must have. always have to be "on," huh? xo

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    Parents and their batshit crazy opinions! I've had people look at me crazy and give their two cents, because my four year old has a Mohawk. Not a fauxhawk. A Mohawk. I may buy him some combat boots to really get everyone going. He's wild as hell and the hairstyle suits him. I require my boys keep their hair short. They can wear Mohawks, Cherokee Strips, patterns shaved in their heads (my boys have ethnic hair)... whatever. I have them keep it short, because MY boys are gross and smell like dogs that have rolled in dead fish-- but will swear to GAWD they washed their hair with shampoo. BUT that's our house. Also I think your son's hair is cute. It looks like it would smell nice. :)

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    Okay, Queen of the Snappy Phrase, seems like you and your boy could craft an awesome retort to the idiots who like to parent your child's hair. My 10.5 year old was recently bullied by some AH at the skate park. After a certain amount of "Clearly your parents are idiots" type comebacks, he settled on "Whatever."

    I think it would be lovely if your boy could put them idiot adults their place. But not while he's chewing his hair, of course.

    I was a totally wild looking teen back in the early 80's when preppy was the thing in my small southern Oregon town. New Wave/Punk/Madonna-Wanna-Be was my style. I think it semi-terrified my parents, to see their once shy, go with the crowd girl strike out on her own.

    They, however, were brilliant and never said one word about my hair, makeup, clothing, or jewelry.

    End result? I blossomed.

  • you could always threaten him with the shears if he doesn't keep it out of his mouth.
    as for the people commenting, you could get all wide-eyed and go,'Man, that's so WEIRD?" and when they ask what, you could say, somewhat guilelessly, "I don't even remember ASKING your opinion on the subject!"
    (I'm the one who paints my boys' toenails when they ask, and when the uncles give them crap, I remind my boys that their uncles have always been full of bull pucky.)

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    I completely agree. I don't like uptight people, and people that complain about something like that are severely uptight. They will tell you (in their own subtle way) that you are less than the mother that you are because you "allow" this. Ironically, their own obsession with things that don't matter, such as long hair, is probably doing damage to their own kids. It's most likely also doing damage to their other relationships as well.
    I like you. I check the blog almost every day and see your FB posts. I think you are a fantastic mom (and funny as hell!). If they don't like it? Fuck 'em.

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    it's funny, cuz my 8 year old girl loooooooves her hair short yet she still chews it and that, of course, drives me nuts!!! such a disgusting habit, yet the little monsters don't undetstand why and chew their hair no matter what!

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    JK & Nikki:

    http://www.amazon.com/Was-Really-Good-Before-Kids/dp/081185650X

    Is this the book? I loved it. It was like my first step to finding moms like MWDAS. It's not quite as fabulous and right on the money as Nikki, but these ladies are pretty funny and definitely get to the point about about how being a mom shouldn't be a competition and we should support each other instead of making one another feel so damn guilty for not being "perfect".

    Btw, Nikki, love your blog and FB posts. I've followed for a while but never really posted. Thanks for this Mama. :)

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    Bravo!!! I believe in letting my boys do what they want with their hair and always have. This caused many fights with my mother when the boys were in prescool with shags, but whatcha gonna do? It was not serious and they are not her children. In fact this helped me learn to just ignore her and smile and shrug. My boys are now in 1st and 2nd grade and I have just learned that the highschool in our district is banning certain hairstyles!! Freedom of expression....when the heck else are kids gonna be able to do what they want???!!!!! Not in grownup world, thats for sure!! I am gonna fight for my kids rights to wear their hair how they want even though highschool is years away. Kudos to you Nicole for raising a polite and handsome son in a time when a lot of parents could care less!! Thanks for sharing and your little guy is such a doll. Boy doll, that is ;-)

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    I love it! Seriously, the idea of choosing your battles as a parent is one of the things I had to learn the hard way -- I took the way I was parented and flipped it. Screw arguing with how they dress (as long as their ass is covered), cleaning their room, or the length (color) of their hair -- just not worth driving them farther away sooner than necessary. Keep the hair and the life lesson -- what a way to teach kids about the hypocrisy of their fellow (grown and not...) man.

  • In reply to Fawn Wheat:

    xo fawn. of course i am teaching my kids how to clean their rooms and the bathroom once a week. i gave them a high standard of clean. they do the best they can. it's not "perfect," but it'll do just fine.

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