By Melanie, The Multiracial Mom
When my two boys were babies, I didn’t let anyone cut their hair until they were one year old. It wasn’t a family tradition or anything – I just loved the look and softness of their hair and wasn’t ready to let it go. While both are multi-racial, their skin tones and hair textures are very different. My oldest is brown like me and grew the cutest little afro with hair like mine, and my youngest had a head covered with brown curls that had their own curls as a backdrop against much paler skin. The first haircut for a child, as you other parents know, can be emotional for some mommas! A family friend did the honors as she had for all of the extended family’s kids, and yes, I saved a few locks from each child. (Years later, they were KonMari’d away as I thanked them for letting me hold onto the boys’ babyhood a little longer.)
But I was at a complete loss when trying to decide what their new default haircuts should be. When I took my oldest to a barber for the second cut, he told me all about protecting his hairline and what type of brush to use. Then we decided to try cutting it at home and I learned that I like my oldest in a “number two haircut.”
For my youngest, the strategy was completely different for his texture of hair. I just couldn’t let go of the curls and let him go too long between cuts. Once when he was two years old, the barber said it was so bad that he had to cut it down to a “number one,” and I was heartbroken! But why? It’s just hair, it will grow back, and why am I so much more sensitive to his hair being cut than I was to my other child? Was I projecting my own struggles from my recent journey towards accepting my own natural hair? Do I just not understand it because I’m the only girl in a household of boys? It didn’t help that it didn’t bother the child at all, and my husband thought they both looked perfectly fine with short hair. He made the good point that it makes it easier to wash and groom our rough-and-tumble kids (my emotional knee-jerk reactions are often met with his logical appeals to my thought process).
Fast forward to now, it’s four years later and for the most part they both still have near-buzz cuts. They go to a barber exclusively since they’re “big boys” now. There was the occasional fade thrown in, which I thought looked great, and there was a fauxhawk phase last summer, which I didn’t like but the kids loved. My oldest already has the added challenge of being a seven-year-old boy that is the height of a 14-year-old teen, and I hated the hairstyle because all I did was worry that other adults would judge him and think he was up to no good, instead of giving him the benefit of the doubt as simply a good kid that just wanted to try something cool with his hair. I also hated that my own bias and view of the world meant that I didn’t have the same worries for my youngest son. I worried about my oldest not seeming average, but in the end I realized that I was thinking about it all wrong. What I want for him is to have what I gained when I came to terms with the end of my personal hair journey – the freedom to express yourself with your hair regardless of what it looks like, as long as it looks great to you!