When my son was much younger, any disputes about when he would get his hair cut were in direct correlation to how much fun he was having with whatever toys he was playing with at home. We then had to incorporate which neighbor kids were playing outside into our plans. At some point a shift was made to him actually caring about the length of the hair itself. The big decision as to whether or not to flip the front up became a quandary of the past. His friends were split pretty much down the middle into long hair and very short "Princeton" clipper cut kids.
Every time my son told me he thought he’d let his hair grow out, I would try to be supportive and inquire as to what style his goal was. He never had one. No long haired boy we knew, nor picture we saw was the look he was aiming for. I knew this was not a battle worth fighting. It just started to seem like right after every holiday, when I was pretending to be used to the unkempt look of our family photos, he would decide to get a haircut. One time I did plan ahead and sent him into the bathroom with a shorter haired picture of himself. I simply asked him to look in the mirror, and to tell me which look he liked better. The forest was groomed the next day. Of course, six weeks later we were at a crossroads again.
At the beginning of this past summer, we decided once and for all to let the mane grow. I told him there was no turning back because he would have a wicked tan line if he tried to change his mind after a two week beach vacation. We got past the cowlicks standing at attention like two horns above his forehead every morning. We also slowly crawled past the just plain overdue for a haircut phase. Acceptance was very quickly followed by some sort of admiration for the new look.
We went for a fall hike at a local waterfall, which was really just another one of my ploys to try to get the kids to let me take some pictures of them, (and to leave the electronic distractions behind). There was some skepticism at first, but we had an amazing time. My son wanted a series of shots of himself as he posed like the Thinker. I was game for anything since he was willing to let the lens capture him. As I kept clicking the shutter, I caught laughter, which is very often seen and heard, but harder to catch...to keep. When I got home and loaded up the images on to the computer, I was struck by this happy looking, wild haired teenager. I felt like I was falling in love with this child, and all of the angst that can come with him, all over again.
Once I stopped longing for the little boy with the short haircut, I realized that this new style, or sometimes apparent lack of one, was just so fitting for the teen he had become. Sometimes he walks by with his face lit up and his whole being is pulled together. Other times, when he sulks and that hair falls just slightly into his eyes, he has a place to hide. Every time I turn around, I am surrounded by photos of the clipper cut boy, and I think “that is so not him anymore”. He is unpredictable with an occasional untamable cowlick. He is undecided with which way his part should go. He is vibrant as he shakes the whole darn mess up. When he is frustrated, he has something to grab onto. Sometimes, when he’s feeling wild, he puts his flap hat over the whole thing and runs outside.
Two weeks ago, he declared that he was going to get his hair cut “back to the Princeton”. I stifled a gasp and reminded myself that hair was not a battle worth fighting anymore. I asked if he was sure, and he mentioned that he didn't like how it was falling in his eyes. I suggested just a shorter haircut, leaving the door open to get the clippers out at a later appointment. He was not interested. He hasn't changed his mind in the two weeks since his initial proclamation. He is showing much more conviction that I ever have about any hairstyle I've considered. No, hair is not a battle worth fighting...not out loud anyways. His appointment is tomorrow morning............