My 6-year-old son has very pretty, shoulder length blond hair, and strangers always assume he’s a girl. He never pays them any attention, and always seems to think they are just silly and if they can’t tell he’s a boy that’s their problem. So he surprised me the other day while I was washing his hair in the bath, and he asked, “Mommy, why do I have girl hair?”
So I told him, “You don’t have girl hair. You don’t have boy hair. You just have hair. Girls can have short hair, boys can have long hair. It’s all just hair.”
So he thought about it, and then started telling me about girls in his class with short hair. I could practically see the little wheels cranking in his head as he thought this over. And then he asked, “Why have I always had long hair?”
And then I had to come up with all the times he had short hair, the time I took him to the hair salon to get it cut, and all the times I’ve asked if he wants it cut. Long hair has always been his choice. I actually wouldn’t mind if it was short, because then I’d spend less time trying to comb his lovely long locks and have them not look like a tangled mess! But he has always refused and just asked for a little trim.
I look at him and all I see is a cute little beach boy. His hair isn’t even that long these days! It usually just skims his shoulders. But when I sent the picture below for a custom tumbler where they made us look like Simpson’s characters, he came back looking more like Lisa than Bart. I had to ask them to redraw it, and remove the long eyelashes and lipstick that made him look like my teenage daughter. It would have been fine if he did have big eyelashes and wear lipstick, but he doesn’t, and I wanted it to actually look like him.
We live in a bit of a weird time where gender identification is a big issue, and just trying to explain things to a child asking questions is not always easy. My son has always been a Boy with a capital B. He’s very proud of his boyness and likes to proclaim things “boy things,” which drives me crazy because 6-year-old me would be mad and shouting “Girls can play with this stuff too! So then I try and explain that boys and girls can both play with the same stuff, and although typically girls and boys will be attracted to certain things, sometimes they aren’t, and that’s ok too.
I feel like it’s my job to make sure this kid turns out to be a kind and understanding person. And the kind of guy that understands things aren’t off limits to girls just because they are girls and vice versa. And you’d think a kid with a full head of glorious “girl hair” would be on the more understanding side of things.
As a side note, he’s reassigned our cat’s gender and it’s a daily fight for me to call our boy cat a “she.” My husband has already succumbed and calls him a girl, making it twice as hard. My son insists the cat is a girl because we call him “Gizzie,” which is short for Gizmo. Which then leads to a discussion about how his name, Keelan, can be a girl’s name too! And then we are right back where we started…
But until the day he asks for a haircut, he can grow his hair as long as he wants. Unfortunately he refuses to let me use any kind of hair accessory to keep his hair out of his face, because of course, those are “girl things.” (insert big eye roll)