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.