Hair issues, I’ve got a few

NS August 16th, 2010

I’ve been meaning to do a review of The Idle Parent because I liked it so much.

Alas, as  I was ignoring the children this morning while attempting to finish something I was doing on the computer, Noble Boy scribbled all over its pages with a brown pencil.

If ever there was a good reason not to be able to review a book (at least if it requires re-quoting passages), that one should suffice for this book’s author.

Anyway, that’s not the reason I’m writing. In a subsequent not-really-ignoring-but-not-really-paying-that-much-attention-either episode later in the day, just after lunch, my strongly-held opposition to culturally-ingrained gender stereotypes was tested.

As I worked at the dining room table and the children played outside, drawing (on paper this time) and cutting out pictures from an old magazine, I became absorbed in my news-gathering (part and parcel of the ol’ editing job) and didn’t notice when Noble Girl disappeared from the table and strolled over to the shed, scissors clutched in her hand. It wasn’t until Noble Boy came to me crying, pulling at my hand to get up and see what had happened, that I realised with a growing sense of dread that something was very amiss.

My 4-year-old daughter — the one with long, beautiful, blond hair — stared at me with a mixture of confusion, fear and sadness in her eyes.  My jaw dropped when I saw the choppy mane hanging in ragged layers around her face and the piles of hair around her feet. I looked down at Noble Boy, who was still crying, and saw that she’d worked her scissor magic on his (already sparse) hair too. Where there had previously been fine wisps of white-blond hair, there were buzz-cut patches of intermittent baldness. I looked from daughter to son, son to daughter.

Readers, I am ashamed to say: my first reaction, in my head, was, “She looks like a boy! All that beautiful hair is gone! And my son, he looks like a regular thug. Whatever will we do?!”

I pulled myself together, gave myself a few internal slaps and worked rapidly to calm and reassure both children. A few hours later a pixie haircut at the barber shop and a stop by the drugstore for hair wax to make it stand up a bit and instead of a Poor Little Girl Who Looks Like a Boy With a Bad Haircut, we had a Super-Cool Rock Chick! All is fine, she loves her new do (mostly) and the crisis has been solved. We have to decide whether to leave Noble Boy’s hair alone and hope it grows out somewhat evenly or just complete the buzz cut Noble Girl started.

I’m still struggling with my initial reaction though. Obviously I haven’t managed to completely escape the GIRL = LONG HAIR trope. Oy vey.

20 Responses to “Hair issues, I’ve got a few”

  1. Lyn says:

    Every parent should be prepared for this one. Lucky for me, when you were about that age you cut the neighbor’s hair, not your own. I worried it might be the end of the friendship with the little girl’s mom but she laughed it off. Hair will grow back. And I hope you got a picture, just for future blackmail fodder when she is a teenager. :)

    NS Reply:

    @Lyn, I so wanted to take a picture for blackmail purposes but she gets so upset when she knows I’m laughing at her or think something she did is silly so I didn’t dare risk further upsetting her. There will always be this blog post to remind her…

  2. JulieB says:

    This brings back traumatic memories for me, as the only time I was ever sent to the headmaster whilst at junior school was when I decided to cut my hair (after the teacher left the room saying “don’t play with the scissors while I am gone…).
    As Lyn said – hair grows back, glad your daughter likes here new ‘do!
    JulieB´s last blog ..TelephobiaMy ComLuv Profile

    NS Reply:

    @JulieB, She really is liking it and so am I ! So much easier to wash, comb and manage.

  3. Emily O says:

    Oh noooo… am I allowed to laugh or is it too mean? I still haven’t read that book although I follow similar principles of letting them get on with things until something dangerous happens. I’ve found the two year old with a sharp pair of scissors before but luckily no one’s hair got cut on that occasion. I hope their hair grows back quickly!
    Emily O´s last blog ..The Sods Law of ParentingMy ComLuv Profile

    NS Reply:

    @Emily O, Do you want to borrow it? The book, that is. You may be too idle to go and buy it yourself. That’s a good sign. :D

  4. monkeygirl says:

    Oh NS, how I laughed at this (sorry, I’m sure you didn’t)…
    I attacked my brother’s hair as a 13 year old (!) – with my mother’s ‘ladyshave’ I tried to give him a ‘step’ – she wasnt impressed and neither was my dear brother.

    NS Reply:

    @monkeygirl, At 13! I’m hoping this will be the last of the impromputu hair cutting escapades but I’m sure it won’t be. We have teen years to get through still. I see pink hair dye in my future.

  5. Iota says:

    It’s a tough one to avoid, though. It’s so deeply ingrained in books, at preschools, on tv, on billboards…
    Iota´s last blog ..Last year- this yearMy ComLuv Profile

    NS Reply:

    @Iota, It is indeed.

  6. Trish says:

    My younger daughter cut her hair on three separate occasions… hide the scissors, she might just have another go. My older daughter never did it, but my Dad cut her hair for her one summer when “it was getting in her eyes and annoying her, and I just kinda kept snipping”. She ended up with a mullet. Both my girls, therefore, have had pixie cuts. I think they looked really cute, but I didn’t like not being prepared for it.

    NS Reply:

    @Trish, I’m kind of hoping that she’ll decide to keep it short until she’s old enough to sort her own hair out; it’s been so much easier for me!

  7. Geekymummy says:

    Oh no! I think it’s OK to love long hair on girls without losing your feminist principles! When geekygirl took the scissors to her hair I caught her before too much damage was done. I would have had exactly the same reaction! Mind you, the most luxuriant locks in our family belongto geekydaddy, so we are breaking one stereotype!
    Geekymummy´s last blog ..a leader amongst preschoolersMy ComLuv Profile

    NS Reply:

    @Geekymummy, I had the misfortune of seeing a video last weekend of my husband when he was a teenager with long hair. Thank goodness he cut it or we’d not be together today. I like long hair on a man when it looks nice but, sadly, NH does not have nice long hair.

  8. blues says:

    I struggle with this issue with my own hair. I know my life would be easier if I cut my hair off, but I’ve always had it long but sometimes feel like it’s a curse I put on myself.
    blues´s last blog ..A package from MomMy ComLuv Profile

    NS Reply:

    @blues, I want to have short hair but right now my skin is appallingly bad and I use my hair to help ‘hide’ it. Ugh. Sigh. Wish I could just truly not care about my appearance.

  9. Courtney says:

    Aw, I don’t think you can blame yourself too much for that one. The hair of young babies and children is soooo beautiful – for both girls and boys – that I think mourning it is pretty natural. That state of amazing hair doesn’t last too long, really. On this one I say, cut yourself some slack :-)

    NS Reply:

    @Courtney, Thank you, you’re right. I had my day of mourning and am still adjusting. It’s just hair but it was my baby girl’s hair!

  10. Kelly says:

    You handled this awesome. I also cried at my kids’ first haircuts (and they weren’t self-inflicted!)

    My kids (now 6 and 8) have full control over their hair and they exercise it. My boy has shoulder-length tresses and my daughter makes lots of changes: goes black and pink and bangs and long then short. I figure it’s their hair and I might as well accept it! :-)
    Kelly´s last blog ..que estamos de vacacionesMy ComLuv Profile

  11. Capital Mom says:

    I think I would have yelled. A lot.

    Sounds like you handled it good to me.