Why I won't be apologizing for my son's long hair.

Monday, August 1, 2016


When we're both much older, and I'm thinking back on my first boy in all his almost-four-year-old glory, this is how I'll imagine him. Wearing blue, because that's his favorite color. In his sandals that he's so excited about because he can buckle them all on his own. With a bowtie because that's what Daddy wears. And running because that's his favorite way to get around lately, it seems. Each time his foot hits the floor, it's followed by a loud "stomp stomp stomp." And what I'll remember even more than all those things is his long hair.

He loves his hair. It's become a huge part of him. He's had one haircut before (last summer, actually) and we've started discussing getting another haircut soon before he starts school soon.

As I was getting ready this morning, I started thinking about all the different responses we've gotten about his long hair through the years. It's funny because they have almost become predictable, and don't vary much. Here are the responses we usually get...

The "OMG! His hair is so gorgeous" Response

Obviously, this one is our favorite, because, we totally agree! It IS really beautiful! He hardly ever gets knots in it, it's super soft, and has a really pretty color. The sun has given him a few natural highlights, and I've found myself eyeing his hair enviously more than once. We always respond with a, "Thank you so much! He really likes it, too!"

The "Girl" Response

This has several parts to it. I've been asked, "So, are your girls twins?" a hundred thousand times. I could have him wearing a shirt that says, "I'M A BOY" in huge block letters and people will still think he's a girl. He actually has a sweater that says, "Hey Ladies" on it, and he's gotten some strange looks from it. (But, that's a whole other discussion, now, isn't it? Another day!) When I was pregnant with O, I also had people ask if I was "...finally getting [my] boy?"

What do I do when people refer to him as a girl incorrectly? I always try to gently correct them by saying something like, "Actualllllly, he's a boy!" Or, "No, they're not twins. HE is a year younger than his sister." Lately, however, Pato has no problem saying, "I'm a boy!" 

Which leads to the part 2 of The "Girl" Response.

After we tell people that "she's" actually a "he," we always get the same looks. The look of surprise, and then they look at him again even closer, and more often than not, they quickly apologize and say something about his hair. (Or, they look at me like I'm crazy, and don't really know what I'm talking about. I kid you not, once I was asked, "Are you sure?" Yes, I'm sure. I'm married to a man. I've seen what my body looks like, oh, just my entire life. I've changed more diapers than I can count. I've been peed on by both female and male parts. (In case you're wondering, pee is pee. It's bad no matter where it came from.) And you know what? If I DIDN'T know, there's a 100% chance my kids wouldn't even be alive. Let's think about that.)

Okay, I know it sounds like a bit angry, but I promise I'm not. Ninety-nine point nine percent of the time, I'm not at all bothered when people mistake my son for girl. But, as I was thinking about how I my own reaction to others, I realized that too many times, I've found myself apologizing for the confusion. As if it were my fault! I've said, "Oh, I'm sorry! It's because his hair is long." Why am I saying sorry for that? It's 2016, people. By now, if you're cringing at the possibility of little boys having long hair, it may be time to step back and rethink things a bit. I am so glad that we live in a day where we can tell girls they can do anything a boy can do. When Sof told me the other day she wants to be a construction worker, and asked if that was something girls could do, I said, "Yes, of course!" I love that it's become more acceptable to tell a boy that it's okay to cry and to have feelings. 

But, the very best response came from my son. One time, when someone mistook him for a girl, he said, "That's okay! Because girls are great, too!" You are so, right, Pato! Being compared to a girl is not a put-down, and we shouldn't apologize for the mix up as if it were a bad thing. Because girls are just as strong, talented, athletic, and amazing as boys.

So, while I will still gently remind people that, nope, this awesome and wonderful kid is actually a boy, I will no longer apologize for their confusion because of his hair being long. And those people who just assume he's a girl but never ask, I'm totally okay with you thinking he's my daughter. Because girls are great, too :) 

1 comment:

  1. My boy has got longish hair. Well - it is going below his ears at least (you can find photos of him on my blog on www.mariakernan.com), and we are still growing it. My husband (believe it or not) got really upset when I took him to the hairdresser just for a trim a year ago, and she cut his hair really short.
    My dad is always complaining about it and wonders when we are going to take him to the hairdresser again. Haha.
    And yes - my kid is also regularly mistaken for a girl, even in shirts, and t-shirts with spiderman on it etc... And his hair is not even that long.
    Anyways - the moral of the story is, I don't really care what people think or say. He is my boy, and until he is old enough to decide for him self, I decide - it's as easy as that. And I love his hair growing long :-)

    ReplyDelete

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