Good-bye, Long Hair!

Our Long-Haired Boy Got a New Look

If you’ve been following my blog for any time at all, you most likely know that one of our 11-year-old son has had long hair since he was little.

I wrote a piece about Arthur’s relationship with his hair when it was at its longest earlier this year.

But this year has been a year of changes for us. Mom and Dad have taken on new jobs, we’ve moved into a bigger place, and two of the kids are starting a new school.

Amid all these changes, Arthur decided he was ready to change things up a bit and go for a new look, which I’ll reveal below.

One of the things that we’ve tried to do as parents is to let our kids have almost complete autonomy when it comes to their appearance. They choose their own clothing and dress how they want to dress. This might not be the best method for other families, but this family has a mom who has had almost every literal hair color available.

One of the things I love most about letting the kids express themselves how they want is seeing how their unique personal styles emerge.

The Clean-Cut Kid

Noah prefers to keep his hair in a short buzz cut. When he was little, he struggled with the clippers due to his autism. He could not tolerate the sound and sensation of them even just to clean up the edges of his hair, so our family’s stylist, Corie Butler, had to resort to more innovative methods to complete his look. But his tweens have been a period of breakthroughs, and he has embraced the clippers completely.

“I like it because it’s low- to no-maintenance, like Teslas. I like to be comfortable. I like to wear jeans and a T-shirt,” he told me.

The Kawaii Princess

Lucy dresses more like she stepped out of an anime. “I like to wear things that really pop out,” she explained. “I like to wear bright colors, but I like to wear comfy clothes so I can play and be comfy at the same time.”

In practice, this means Lucy will often pair hand-me-downs from the boys with bright dresses or tops and loads of accessories. Specifically, she loves to wear headbands with cat or unicorn ears. When I’m cleaning out the boys’ closet, Lucy will often intervene as I’m about to send the items off for donation, squealing, “No, I can totally use this!”

“I prefer to wear pants because a lot of pants are really comfy, but skirts and dresses aren’t. I like wearing both boys’ clothes and girls’ clothes. I just find what’s most comfy and what pops out to my mind and I wear that outfit, and sometimes it works really well and sometimes it’s really off.”

Last week, she came to me and asked me to shave part of her head. I asked why. “I think that hairstyle is really cute. Whenever I look at pics of girls who have that, I’m like, OMG I really want that!”

Other parents might worry about letting their kid jump into such a bold look, but not me. Not with Lucy.

I can pretty much sum up Lucy’s sense of style and decisiveness with one story. Once when she was about four years old, she cut all of her hair off nearly to the scalp while I was asleep. When I woke up and saw her gorgeous curls all gone, I cried.

It wasn’t my finest mom moment to react that way, and I’m not proud of it, especially since Lucy looked at me big-eyed and proud of what she’d done. We took her to Corie, who gave her a little purple tint to her extremely short pixie cut, and Lucy was never unhappy with her hair from the moment she cut it.

“I’m never unhappy with my hair in general,” she mused over my shoulder as she watches me type.

The Pop Goth Hippie

Like his siblings, Arthur has always had a very distinct style. He’s drawn to darker humor and more macabre animation and stories. When he was three, he was crazy about Tim Burton and loved to hear me recite Edgar Allan Poe’s “The Raven.”

He’s also always loved the vivid colors of Japanese animation and dressed very brightly but almost always with his signature black added to the mix. And from the time he was very little, he has preferred to keep his hair long. He’s also our resident pescatarian since he decided he was ethically opposed to eating meat at seven years old, a bold choice in a home full of voracious omnivores.

I’ve always thought it was interesting that Arthur keeps his hair long since it draws a lot of attention and he’s something of an introvert, but like Noah’s super-short look, there’s an element of simplicity to long hair for him.

When he decided to cut his hair at last, the reason was the same one Lucy gave when she cut hers off at age four: “I just felt like it.”

Letting the Kids Decide How to Look

I have long believed letting the kids dress and choose their own hair is one of our best parenting decisions. My reasons for it are, like most parenting decisions, a projection of my own childhood baggage. Until I was grown, I had almost no autonomy when it came to choosing how I dressed or styled my hair. That’s probably the biggest reason I now wear my hair in every color of the rainbow.

As anyone who has ever regretted chopping off their bangs when they were up in their feelings knows, hair is a powerful symbol of control. Every time my kids decide how to wear their hair, they are exercising authority over their bodies.

This gives me hope that they will be confident enough to define how they feel about themselves throughout their lives. Confident enough to defy abuse. Confident enough to prioritize self-care and good health.

The Big Reveal

Without further ado, check out these new looks:

Do you have a kid going back to school with funky hair?

Comment below and let me know! Thanks for reading, and happy back to school week, friends!

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