Tuesday, May 15, 2012

This isn't really about a haircut...

Last night Hubby and I told our teen that he needs to get a haircut, probably next week.

He erupted. It was insane. He was defiant – “I’m not cutting it, I don’t care what you say, it’s not happening.” He tried bargaining – “I promise if a teacher tells me I have to cut it I will then.” He yelled and screamed, and then stormed off to his bedroom. “You guys are retards!”

Then we had our family meeting, which we usually have on Sunday nights, but didn’t this week so it was last night instead. He sat with his face in his hands, crying through most of it. When we got to the part where we talk through any personal issues we’re having, he finally looked up and said he wanted to talk about his hair. “Everyone will laugh at me and say I look like a retard” he said. He gave us the lowdown on how it works at high school. Someone gets a haircut. Everyone (including him) laughs at them and makes fun because they look different. This goes on for several days.

I’m sitting there listening, calmed down now from the arguments that followed his initial reaction to the Haircut Proposal, and just ready to give my son the full attention he needs so he can explain the horror that is his fate if we cut his precious hair. And it doesn’t sound all that bad to me. So a few kids laugh at you for a few days. You laugh with them, right? Or you turn it around and ask “haven’t you ever had a haircut before? Make them feel silly for laughing at pretty much nothing. Right? No big deal...

But it is a big deal. Because he’s sitting there talking about it with tears streaming down his face. It’s a very big deal to him. And that’s a big deal to me.

What has happened to his confidence? Why is he so afraid of being made fun of and laughed at? He used to be the type of kid who would thrive on the attention and enjoy the chance to laugh at himself. I always thought of him as outgoing and confident, but this boy, crying at the mere thought of turning up at school with his hair shorter, is not the picture of healthy self-esteem I had in my mind. I’m so surprised and bothered by this. At first I thought he was resisting the haircut idea because of vanity. Sounds awful, but I thought he was just being a bit of a poser. It never for a second crossed my mind that he just didn’t have the confidence to deal with a little bit of sarcastic ridicule from some kids at school. What has happened to my “try-anything-once” fun-loving guy? Have I not been building him up enough? And what else does he refuse to try because he doesn’t have the confidence?

He’s getting a haircut. He needs one, badly. A few kids laughing at him aren’t going to be the end of the world, so he’s getting one. But my eyes are opened. My boy needs a boost. I need to pray for him, praise him more, build him back up to the confident guy he was, the guy he pretends to be. I’m aware now. I’ve heard him. He asked to keep his hair long, and I’ve heard what the real issue is, behind the anger, behind the appearance of vanity, behind even the childlike explanation he gives to explain his need.

And it makes me wonder...how often, when I ask God for something, does he hear behind it all what my real issue is? How many times, when I think my prayers are unanswered, has he actually provided for a different need that I didn’t know I had – that He’d identified through my frustrated tears and childlike explanation of my needs and desires? Because if I do it for my child, then so must He.


  1. Teenage years are pretty rough like that. There's no easy answers. I remember back to my own teens - I refused to go anywhere near a hairdresser for 5 years after a particularly hard post-haircut teasing when I was 12. Difference been that long hair on a girl isn't a problem. I suggest making it a very light trim...

    1. Yea, you're right. We told him that we don't want him to go to school feeling like he looks stupid, and that he can have as much say as he wants in what style of cut he gets, as long as it's off his eyes and above the collar. And that if he goes back to the hairdresser regularly, rather than letting it grow out, it won't be such a big change when he gets it cut again. I feel sorry for him. Teenage years suck. But I miss seeing his face lol. And every 'hair flick' drives me crazy. If the hair came without the attitude, he could keep the hair lol.

  2. I so remember making fun of the boys for new hair cuts - for some reason we found this hilarious. Its sad, but very real. :( I hope he can handle it well.

    I loved what you said at the end - I know God can understand my prayers and what they really mean

  3. I love your last paragraph here. You put into words stuff I often wonder myself.

    High school can be such a trying time.

  4. Sorry, really think you should let him keep his hair long. Yes, it might look geeky - my son was a Justin Bieber wannabe last year, and everyone's comments just made him more determined to keep it. Then when summer came around, after we'd left him alone, low and behold he said he wanted a haircut!! It might seem a big deal to you - is he your eldest child? But in the big scheme of things it's not that bad. And it will give you some hilarious photos to pull out at his 21st!! Beejay

    1. Interesting thought Beejay. Yes he is our eldest. The only reason we've been pushing him to get a haircut is it's school regulation to have it above the collar and above the eyes. But I hear what you're saying. It's a 'pick your battles' kind of thing, right?

    2. Exactly! With 2 teenagers and a 'tweenie' we're learning not to sweat the small stuff (and hair really comes under that I guess - no matter how bad the 'do' it's always temporary in the end!) If it's school rules though, that's a bit different. (Hope you don't mind me putting my 2c worth in - I just chanced on your blog and thought your post was really interesting. I do 'get' where you're coming from; just thought you might find another perspective helpful too. Blessings, Beejay :)

    3. Absolutely, it's always great to get another perspective from someone else with teens. Thanks for your comments :)

  5. love the pondering in your last paragraph....so beautiful
    ahhh teenage years, the hardest that there is
    you are a good mama

    love and light

  6. wow, what a post, Cass.
    High school can totally suck the confidence out of a person.
    which is something I dread.
    Beejay sounds like she knows what she's talking about.
    I know if this issue came up in our house, I would be all for leaving it alone, but my hubby would be the one insisting on the haircut.
    Maybe if he's happy to have a haircut when a teacher tells him, maybe you could have that agreement? If the main issue is school regs, then let them be the ones who make him do it, so he can save face with his freiends and put the blame on the teacher??

  7. Ooooh tough. I see this in our future as the we have the haircut discussion quite often {our boy has longish hair also}. My .02c is that kids have a hard enough time with social pressures at school, why add to it by forcing tears about a haircut? As adults we know that in 10 years time this haircut will be of no consequence, so why not fast foward and make it a non-issue now? Let the boy be a hippy I say lol!


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