Tuesday, April 1, 2008


You'd pretty much have to be Helen Keller not to know how unhappy I've been with my son's hair. He has long wanted to grow it out (groan), and I have long asserted my right to veto. But during the tumor episode last August, when I was gorked out on Dilaudid and Todd was manning the ship alone, Quinn's monthly haircut slipped through the cracks. My recovery was long and intense, and by the time I noticed, his hair was over his ears (gasp!). Somehow he had gotten the idea that we had let him grow it, and frankly, I was so delighted not to be dying of ovarian cancer that I went along with it.

It has taken many forms in its growth, all of which have prompted my OCD to careen into a ditch, but recently I reached my threshold. The look he was aiming for, that sort of skater-shag-with-a-rad-flip-thing he wanted never came to fruition. What he got instead was a static clinged-to-his-face wedge with a budding mullet in the back. Kind of Carol Brady-meets-John Denver. Now, I have struggled since that fateful month of August to make peace with, and/or radically accept, the hair, but I can't. I realize he is old enough to deserve some measure of autonomy regarding his appearance. I realize that it is just hair, and that it doesn't reflect on me. I realize that a lot of his security was derived from having long hair. What is a mother to do?

(If only he wanted plates in his lips or a bull ring in his nose.)

Anyway, we made him a sweet deal and set out today to do away with the clingy shag that made going out in public so painful. But, when it was time to go, Quinn freaked out. I won't go into great detail, but 50 years later, he got it cut, fighting tears the whole time. He hates it, and immediately put on this plastibell-looking hat, presumably because it is better than the haircut. When I returned from our Obama meeting, he was still wearing the odd hat (from his dad's collection, naturally), and has vowed to keep it on until roughly the second coming. He is asleep with it on now.

I have mixed feelings about the way this went down. On one hand, I am the mother and I wanted it short. But now that it's short I can't help but wonder why my preference for his hair should supercede his preference. So I slathered myself up with a generous helping of guilt, and am on the brink of tears. (I know, what's new?) It seemed I was sparing him the humiliation of looking like a neglected orphan, but I have traded that for a significant drop in his self-worth. It never ceases to amaze me how we can be so motivated to do right by our kids, only to fall on our faces and bring them down with us. Or does that only happen to me?

So what do you guys think? Do I buy him a wig or defend my right to control my kids' appearances?

I suppose I could always get him a weave...

Before: (You can't see how it is a shelf in the back.)

After, with the penis-y hat:

When I forced him to take it off for 2.5 seconds:



gail said...

i'm sorry it was so hard for all involved. you know i'm right there with you where haircutting is concerned. hopefully he'll end up liking it, and if not, it'll grow out and you won't make him cut it the next time, right?

Pamela said...

I think you know where I stand...

Kids have so few personal freedoms. I really feel that their expression of who they are through their appearance is vital to finding themselves.

In his post-haircut picture he looks like a little boy. I know that when growing your hair out there is a horrible in-between stage that is frustrating to all. All that time growing it out, now gone!

We are very different mothers, though, you and I. I respect your decisions (and love you), even on this issue.

The fact that you're thinking this much about it says that perhaps you've realized something that you didn't before.

Megan said...

I think he's old enough to pick his own hair style. You may not like how it looks but I'm sure the same situation occurred between your mother and you at this age.

As long as he's not shaving penises (or is it peni?) into his head I'd give him some autonomy.

B Kinch said...

I have several things to say, but first I have to point out that before the forced haircut, he got a 'trim' to help shape up the layers and it was horrible. The bangs were a rainbow. It looked exactly like this: http://www.whereiscolin.com/assets/images/Bad_hair_day_2.JPG

I have overflowing gallons of sympathy for you on this issue. It can be really hard to relate to your child when every time you look at them it raises your ire. But, as we all make our way into the teen years this is just a reality we'll have to deal with. So give yourself a one time pass. Consider it a band aid solution while you work on some tolerance skills and prepare yourself for whatever comes next :)

mamakendra said...

Um, he won't get over it, ever. I gave Morgan a mohawk, per his request, when he was 5. It looked awful, so I just shaved it into a cool Santa Cruz buzz cut (yep, said it SANTA CRUUUUZ). He is almost 11 now and NEVER, EVER will let me cut his hair again, ever. Nor will he let me take him to get it cut. So, just let it go and move on to other tortures I suppose.

mental chatter said...

Every spring after my birth until I was five-yrs.-old my mother would give my sister and me pixie cuts. Even at a very tender age I was so embarrassed and didn't want anyone to look at me. People who didn't know us thought we were little boys and all of the neighborhood kids laughed at us. I so desperately wanted long locks like all of the other little girls. My mother, on the other had, was done with trying to detangle the rats' nests that our hair had become. Besides, she would say, your heads will be nice and cool for the summer.
So, I feel Quinn's pain. Quinn, if you are reading this, I'm right there with you!

With that said, I got to see his hair up-close-and-personal on Sunday evening before The Haircut. I'm really glad you made him cut his hair. It was best just to scrap the 'do and start all over.

And, with THAT said, Quinn is a gorgeous boy no matter what hairstyle he may be sporting. You produce such lovely kiddos!


mental chatter said...
This comment has been removed by the author.
mental chatter said...

oh, and Megan, the plural of penis is 'penes', which I just recently learned through a post on my blog regarding Jeffrey Eugenides. :)


Sam said...

I don't think there is anything I could add to the comments you've already received.

We, as mothers, just do the best we can, learning as we go.

Q will forgive you and perhaps his next grow-out won't be so painful.