Oct 5, 2011

My skinhead kids

"Dad, I want to shave my head and join the army." Well, that's not exactly what the boys said, but that's how it felt. And like anything that evokes a strong gut reaction, there were some unexpected lessons to be learned; shedding assumptions and biases takes longer than shaving a bit of cerebral growth.

We have a long relationship with long-haired boys in this family, so it took a lot of cajoling to break out the old buzz cut razor. The kids were trembling with excitement at this new follicular journey; I was trembling with the fear that my boys would be lost in the frenzy, their quirky sweet natures swept away with the golden locks on the kitchen floor.

They weren't, of course, lost, but definitely harder to find. For the first days and even months we still had trouble recognizing our boys. Our perhaps more precisely, trouble distinguishing them from the crowd. Our precious protected TV-less Waldorf Quaker pacifist organic-eating gnome-knitting children looked just like any other kid on the public park playground.

So the first thing I had to let go of was attachment to my children looking different; to associating their special unique natures with the way they dress and do their hair. The photo still shows G's goofy antics and Z's raw excitement at life - much too pure to be disguised by any hair or lack thereof.

I also had to face up to the judgement I carry about how other parents' children dress and look. To assume anything about a child just because of her hair or school or logo on his shirt is a disservice and dishonouring of that child, who's every bit as precious and unique and extra-ordinary in the eyes of her parent as my children are to me.

Finally, and perhaps most challenging, I have to accept that it's OK for our children to run with the pack a bit, to be "normal" or "mainstream" in some ways. They like hockey cards, skiing, Elvis Presley, bike jumps, soccer, and many other "normal" things (a lot like their papa). There are still elements of a child's "typical" upbringing that I continue to shelter my boys from - mainstream media and internet being the biggest - but a lot of what's common in this world is common because it's OK. We spend so much energy teaching our children that it's OK to be different, unique, special, that perhaps we forget to tell them or ourselves that it's also OK to be a normal kid.

In the end, what makes my children special isn't a unique look or ability or school or music repertoire. It's their souls irrepressibly shining through all of that. How we guide them and shelter or expose them (while we still can) is important, but the way we love and honour and support them in whatever new Way they're trying on is ultimately the greatest gift we can give them.

I still prefer my children with longer hair. I still prefer them singing Russian folksongs in 3-part harmony (tonight's musical adventure) to Lady Gaga, and watching their nimble fingers dance over a violin or a cross-stitch project rather than on a video game. But I honour that somewhere nearby, some other Papa maybe watched his buzz-cut boy do a fantastic dance imitation of Justin Bieber and loved him just as thoroughly as I did my boys tonight.


  1. The mother of your long-haired hippie kid neighbourOctober 5, 2011 at 9:29 PM

    Are you trying to tell me something??

  2. Your post today really spoke to me. Although we haven't gone the buzz-cut route, more the surfer and arty-aesthete looks, it was really difficult for me to cut my boys' long hair! But they both asked. And you're right, they are still imagining giant subterranean chambers filled with dragons and crocodiles. Still undeniably themselves. We just don't get those "just the three girls?" comments anymore.

  3. I love this family pic! You guys look so..dare I say it..normal! But more importantly, you all look very very happy :)

  4. Almost cut my hair
    It happened just the other day
    It was getting kind of long
    I could have said it was in my way

    But I didn't and I wonder why
    I feel like letting MY FREAK FLAG FLY!