My second son, Z2, decided to cut his locks and get a Mohawk.
Z2 had been growing his hair since birth. Unlike Z1, he'd never had it cut and had grown a beautiful
He had been asking to have his hair cut for some time and while we were considering it, we weren't quick to act. We wanted the decision to be his, of course, but I for one wasn't sure that it was. Other children made comments, strangers mistook him for a girl a lot (which I think had more to do with his very soft, pretty face), and I'm sure he picked up some negativity from family and other adults. And I think these things really bothered him and were a driver for the desire to have his hair cut.
But after having cut it and really having time to contemplate, I realize that the decision may have been more his own than anyone else's. At least I hope so. He's always been very particular about what he wears and sensitive to how he looks. It very well could be that he was ready for a change for himself and that the other possible reasons for wanting to cut it were secondary or even tertiary. That they didn't factor in as much as I fear they did. He's enjoying his Mohawk tremendously and is very pleased with his decision to cut his hair. Especially since it's summer. He's happy to feel the air on his scalp and to not have to tie his hair back to keep it out of his face and out of his way when he's doing things. He gets a real kick out of people's reaction to the dramatic change and doesn't regret it for one minute.
Of course, I was emotionally attached to his hair in some way. It was a beautiful set of locks, so thick and bouncy, and it definitely represented a mindset that I had and a spiritual/emotional place where I was. The locks, his name, all of it. Also, because of my own struggles with hair growth . . . I suppose I felt a sense of relief that his hair does grow and also a sense of vicariousness.
The hubby was sad about it too but rightfully pointed out that if he does choose to grow locks again at some point in his life, it will be for his own reasons. Reasons he will have pondered. Genuine reasons. And it will be his own choice.
I am doing my best to raise my children with a voice to articulate how they want to live their lives. It's funny. As soon as people saw that Z2 had cut his hair, they assumed and even expected that Z1 had done the same. But no, Z1 has never expressed a real interest in cutting his hair although he likes to sit in his father's barber chair and pretend to have it cut. My children don't have to do or like the exact same things or be the same way. If nothing else, homeschooling them has emphatically taught me that lesson.
At least in this small area of Z2's life, I'm happy to report, I did not feel like I needed to control what he did, even if I wasn't totally convinced the motives were correct. (And who am I really to say which motives/feelings are valid and which ones are not?) I want my children to grow knowing that their bodies are their own. That they should treat their bodies with respect and love but that after that, they are free to adorn and dress their bodies the way they want. Of course, folks will make judgments based on what they see but as long as they are cognizant of that, they can make conscious decisions about how they style themselves. I want them to know that at the end of the day, they run their own show. I'm trying to prepare them to do just that.
And I'm always one to say that, after all, it's just hair. But we infuse hair with all sort of meaning about who we are politically and spiritually. I'm not here to debate if that's right or wrong but for now, I'm happy that for my 6 year old, it is really and totally just hair. I'm glad he felt free to cut them.