His first (gulp) haircut!

My 3½-year-old son had long hair up until about a week ago. Long as in, halfway down his back. It capitalized on this laidback surfer vibe he seems to give off, and more than one person has called him “Spicoli.” 

Why did I allow it to grow so long? A bunch of reasons — stubbornness, lack of time, not wanting to deal with a possible Traumatic Incident. And while I’ve become slightly more amenable to my children getting older, I know as soon as those first strands hit the floor, my child crosses some amorphous line in the time-space continuum and becomes a little person, rather than a baby. 

But I also allowed it because he liked it. And he should like it. He naturally grows the most gorgeous, glossy platinum blonde hair, with perfect lowlights. Do you know how much a person must spend each year to maintain that kind of color? 

As a reformed bleach addict, I can tell you, it’s a lot, if you want it done right. 

Also — and I ask this in the most diplomatic way — who cares? 

I tell you what: A lot of people care. A LOT of people asked me why I didn’t cut his hair. A lot of people gave me trying-to-be-neutral looks when I explained that, no, he’s a boy, when they called him a “she,” or referred to him as Ruby’s “sister.”

Remy before the haircut

Or there was the guy who saw our family out for a walk recently, and couldn’t see the baby’s face through the stroller shade. 

He hollered across the street at us: “Hope you got a boy in that stroller!” 

WHAT? What does that even mean? And what did my daughter just hear you say? 

Look, I’m not immune — I have accidentally mis-gendered babies before, out loud or silently. It’s not so much that I was offended that someone would do such a thing to my son — though I was often flummoxed when all of his other “tells” were clearly male. 

And I don’t think he even cares. (I asked.) He just likes what he likes, which includes his deep love for momos (construction vehicles), wee-woos (fire trucks, police cars), the color pink, fancy accessories, nail polish and cooking. 

I’m not here to change him and his wonderfully wide array of likes and dislikes for someone else’s bulleted, easy-categorization gender checklist. No way. 

But the day came when we asked him if he wanted to cut his hair, and he said he was interested, but nervous. 

He agreed to go, as long as it could be with Daddy’s barber. The barber made an exception to his age-cutoff policy and, suddenly, there Remy was, whisked into the salon chair, atop a booster seat, with the cape around his neck. 

It happened faster than I expected: A few quick snips, a zhuzh of product, and sitting before me was a little boy, his wide green eyes even wider as he recognized all his facial planes in the mirror. My boy had just discovered the joy of the salon, and a reckoning with his own transformation. 

I didn’t cry. I had expected to. I guess I’m growing up, too. 


Katie Dohman lives in West St. Paul with her three kids, three pets and one husband. She loves them all a lot, which is good, because she can’t remember the last time she slept the whole night through.