My son is 4 and a half and he has hair down to his shoulders.
Every single person who lays eyes on my son, mistakes him for a girl. They say “she” and “her” when referring to my son even after I say: this is my son, Jackson.
I find this very strange. I look at my son’s cotton shorts and tee shirt, I look at his light up batman sneakers and I conclude: you really can’t tell the difference between boys and girls at 4 years old. So why is everyone so certain he’s a girl?
Seriously—why don’t people refer to him as “your child” or attempt to ask his name before so confidently assigning him a gender. He’s 4. It is confusing to him and we talk about it often.
The conversation looks something like this:
Did you notice that lady kept calling you “she?”
How did that make you feel?
Because I’m not a girl, I’m a boy.
I know, you’re a boy, that lady made a mistake. I’m sorry her mistake made you feel bad. What do you think we can say next time that will feel better?
I’m a boy.
Parenting involves instilling within your child a sense of personal autonomy. Children are not dolls or robots. Children are future adults who deserve to know the truth about consent.
Close your eyes and imagine a world where all human beings understand, respect and appreciate consent. Open your eyes and imagine that lesson is learned at home.
Every few weeks we go to see my son’s hair stylist and I ask him what he wants to do. Hair cut or just a trim? For the past year his answer is always “just a trim” because he is growing his hair long.
Right now, my son’s hair is down to his shoulders and it looks incredible. Hair model worthy. He is certainly capable of at least playing the part of a rock star on television.
We are part of that movement of parents who have to go tour private kindergartens well in advance, apply, and then fear we might not get in. I want my son to go to the best school for him.
Challenger School is a Charter school and we thought it was beautiful. In fact, we were worried we might not pass the test to get in because we liked it so much. It has a great playground, which is high on my son’s one-item priority list for schools.
I had a great conversation with the school administrator on said playground about how they resolve conflicts with logic and have a method for teaching logic that is unique to their curriculum. Like music to my ears, I really lit up when she explained all of this to me. I’m a big fan of logic.
For whatever reason, I decided to ask the administrator if Challenger School had a weird hair policy and she said actually they do. In order to attend the school, he would need to keep his hair cut to above his ears.
Do the girls have the same rule?
No. This is a grooming rule for the boys only.
I wish that I could have resolved that issue with logic, but we had to agree to disagree and are now ineligible for Challenger School.
Las Vegas Day School is an impressive facility. The campus has a music building, a huge art center, a gymnasium, an incredible library and a cool playground. We were all super excited. I noticed a little boy in the kindergarten class had longer hair and felt relieved, like we are in the right place.
Until I asked the administrator what their hair policy, if any, was. She flinched. Like I struck her. She said she had been meaning to say something about that because Jackson would need to trim his hair to rest at the top of his shirt collar to meet the school policy.
Do the girls have the same rule?
No. It’s a policy based on tradition.
Oh man, that’s too bad because we are precluded from admission and should probably just stop the tour here so we stop wasting each other’s time. I am raising my son to have personal autonomy for his own health and safety. Please let us know if you change your mind on this policy.
I will let the Director know your thoughts and please let us know if you change your mind.
We have four more schools to tour and I am confident that I will find something that works for us but I am beyond frustrated.
Gender stereotyping really bothers me.
All men are created equal. That’s just exactly what they meant to say. They meant to exclude females. They intended for the divide in order to derive a benefit without a care for the consequences; certainly without well reasoned thought for the consequences. We can do better than this.
Flash forward to middle school where the girls start getting sent home for the same length skirt they were forced to wear in elementary school, now no longer deemed appropriate. Sent home for showing off shoulders, collar bones, cleavage because their bodies “distract boys from learning.”
News flash: puberty distracts children from learning. Making girls disappear is not the answer to anything. Sending girls home distracts everyone from learning anything other than the clear lesson that girls matter less than boys.
Do you want to know why my son wants to grow his hair long?
Because he wants to be like his Mom.
Society hates that. It terrifies them. It angers them. It invokes very strong feelings.
My son wants to be like his Mom because she is a lawyer, she is brave, loyal, strong, fiercely protective, funny and a master storyteller. My son’s Mom is also beautiful and so loving. Of course my son wants to be like his Mom.
But we can’t say that out loud, right?
Well as long as we are going taboo, then let me also throw in some other things I’ve been dying to say:
I’m not going to cut off my son’s hair so that you can easily identify which benefits to assign to whom.
I’m not going to cut off my son’s hair because you want to know if he’s a boy or a girl. He’s 4. You don’t need to know what’s going on inside his pants.
I’m not going to cut off my son’s hair because what he wants to look like matters to me; he is a brand new human being developing his amazing personality and not only do I respect that, as his Mom, I wholeheartedly facilitate it.
I’m not going to cut off my son’s hair because I want to know who he is, not tell him who to be. If you don’t want to know who he is, then this isn’t the place for us.