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Long Haired Freaky People

We went RV’ing this weekend to the Sequim(Skwim)/Port Angeles KOA.  We aren’t ready to tow the truck behind the RV yet, but we really wanted a few days away.  We know that KOA’s are a little pricey but as a last minute planner I knew it was a reliable place for pretty cool kid/family activities and we could also chill around a campfire.

Root beer float night, BINGO and a monster bike ride later I knew I had made the right decision.  After a fun few days everyone seemed content to hang around the RV in front of the campfire for the last day.  We totally scored some huge pieces of wood from a checkout earlier in the day and it helped our cause of keeping the flames going all day.  A small bundle of wood was $6.00!  We forgot to bring our own and that really adds up!

Monday afternoon we took Milo and Phoenix to the playground.  The turf was that really dusty gray sand that of course every child wants to bury themselves in.  Lucky me, because all I wore were flip flops and I don’t like hate that kind of sand.  Beach sand is barely acceptable but this dusty, nasty shit drives me crazy.  When it rubs between my toes, I end up with goosebumps the whole time I’m walking.  It’s that fingernail on the chalk board effect, except I get chills just thinking about a chalkboard.

At the playground there were a bunch of other children in the usual 6-10 range.  There was also a lot of the usual unsupervised playground behavior.  There was some pushing, some teasing, a little name calling and of course crying.  Times like this I’m reminded how awesome my kids are.  Especially, after witnessing one child kick another in the face with sneakers, I was feeling quite blessed to be the family we are.

Just when I was basking in the glory of my spawn of perfection, (and don’t worry they won’t be anything less with the rest of this story)  I started to notice that Milo was having to defend his hair a little.  Of course he gets called a girl an awful lot.  He has long red locks and the cutest little freckly face.  This time was different, these kids didn’t believe him.  They told him, “You’re lying.  You’re a girl.  You look like a girl and you act like a girl and you sound like a girl.” Milo took it all in stride giggling it away.  He did confide later that this bothers him “a lot, but not that much”.

There was one child who Milo kept trying to talk to and his other friend kept instructing him not to talk to Milo.  I have no idea why.  It was the weirdest thing.  This kid would block Milo from whatever he was trying to do and purposely get in his way.  He also audibly told his friend to “don’t listen and just go away”.  Um…  excuse me?  I was so confused by this.  Have these kids REALLY never seen a boy with long hair?  I mean yeah, it’s longer than most boys with long hair but STILL.  Are we so far out of the way of civilization that long haired men have escaped their radar?  Basically, the kid was mean from what I’m pretty sure was based on looks.  He just didn’t like the way Milo looked.  Huh.  Discrimination based on hair length.  I thought we saw the end of that in the freakin’ seventies.  Guess I was wrong.

We’re home now, and I just gave Phoenix a hair cut to even it out.  He has this wild mixture of straight baby hair and thick wavy hair.  I offered the other boys trims.  Milo said, “No way”.  I’m so glad to know that he doesn’t feel the need to change to fit in or be accepted.  I love that kid.

15 Comments

  1. denise says:

    I have to say my sons get the same treatment a lot (most of the time) at parks or just out there in the world. Some kid always tells others not to play with them, or makes up a “game” that is just to be mean or make a fool of them.

    I think kids can smell that they are different. And my guys don’t have long hair right now. My boys walk up and talk to kids, want to play, ask questions, chat, are very friendly…but kids tell them to shut up and go away. It is to the point where my oldest just doesn’t want to play in parks where there are kids. So we drive to the empty ones and have a BLAST together. :)

  2. Heather says:

    “My boys walk up and talk to kids, want to play, ask questions, chat, are very friendly”

    That’s an interesting point Denise. Mine are the same way. I forget that isn’t normal sometimes.

  3. Laura Bowman says:

    my boys used to have this happen too. they were told once they were in the wrong bathroom. they laughed. they both have short hair now but have had it short and long on and off before. silas used to have dread locks all the way down his back. hair just isn’t part of how they define their boyness (although samuel has decided that his hair defines his sexiness). it’s sad to see kids behave this way and the only thing i can think of is how their parents must act…or at least what they are learning from their peers in school.

  4. denise says:

    OK. I got distracted in the middle of my comment and wandered off. I was also going to say that I love that your son didn’t care to change himself based on comments by kids. That is awesome, and his hair is perfect. :)

  5. Heather says:

    It bothers me that kids are so naturally non-judgmental. I feel like school creates a LOT of those issues. I call it survival mode. They behave in a way that helps them survive the social circus of school. Some do well… others not so much. :/

  6. Hillary says:

    My oldest son has long gorgeous red locks too and here in Ithaca no one says anything (thought he does get mistaken for a girl here and there), but we visited family in the metro Boston area and the kids really gave him a hard time. It was hard for him and he told me how much ppl do mistake him for a girl and that he didn’t used to mind. I offered to get him a hair cut and we talked about ways to keep it long, but have more of a “boys” haircut. So we did.

    What I love about where we live is that almost all the kids grow up knowing hair styles/clothing etc don’t make the person and it was a bit shocking to find all these kids who are just sweet loving kids be weirded out by a boy with long hair.

    Anyways, I liked hearing your story and your sweetie sounds adorable. Thanks for sharing.

  7. azmomof2boys says:

    We’ve dealt with this too. Our oldest son had straight shoulder length hair for a year or so until he decided to go to a school that required it be a certain length (short). I was so sad when he cut it, but when I look back at pictures he really does look like a girl. It’s weird how I didn’t see it back then.

  8. Heather says:

    He only looked like a girl because our societal norm says only girls have long hair. To me, boys with long hair look like ‘boys with long hair’. Isn’t it odd that the length of our hair can determine what is under our clothes? Did the school require girls to have short hair as well? I doubt it. Sad really. On a happy note, I’ve seen a very large trend of boys growing long locks and girls with very short cuts. Thanks for commenting. :)

  9. SedonaMichelle says:

    My son Hugo has grown his hair down to his waist and then cut it and donated it. He feels like its an important part of his identity. Never did we get so many comments as when we moved from New York to Sedona. He was the longest haired boy we ever saw here. He finally cut it again this summer and donated it again. He’s got a very cool, kinda punk haircut that could still be seen as a bit feminine but doesn’t get the constant comments. They really wore him down after awhile. Its too bad but I know it won’t deter him if he chooses to grow it out again.
    Oh, and I even got a comment once from a friend’s husband mildly suggesting I was a neglectful parent for not keeping it short!!! Unbelievable!!!!

  10. Natalie says:

    His locks are so stunning! I love that photo.

    I don’t get the whole hair thing either. I had a shaved head for 6 years and now just have a shortish style, while my kids’ dad has waist length hair. We used to get comments from kids who found it super disturbing, before we were even parents. 😉 At least they’re not ageist.

    Now my daughter won’t cut her hair because people might think she’s a boy after local kids did a lot of teasing when she had a gorgeous pixie cut a while back, but my son wears his long blonde hair happily and thinks people are crazy for calling him a girl.

    And, like Denise said, my children are also really open and engaging and socially confident, but kids in the parks seem freaked out about it and also ignore them or get a bit mean. I feel for those kids who feel so unsafe if any stranger talks to them, even if it’s only another young child. And, of course, I feel for my children who just want to meet new people and have a fun play and feel really rejected, even though they can talk about it afterwards and understand, it still hurts at the time.

  11. Heather says:

    “Have these kids REALLY never seen a boy with long hair?” – Where I live, no. There are no young boys with long hair at all, don’t ever remember seeing one out at the playgrounds, museums, etc., ever. So it could be true for those kids too.

    The true issue is, of course, why the other kids felt the need to jump on someone because they were different from them. We haven’t dealt with this specifically, our son’s hair is short (his choice), but have had other playground issues. I do think it is a learned behaviour, whether at home or school. Sadly, schools and society value sameness and go out of the way to reinforce that concept.

  12. Rashel says:

    I’m often confused by the long hair=girl thing, especially as children get up in age and more boys have longer hair. I also don’t know why ppl, even adults, would think a child and their mother would be lying about whether they’re a boy or a girl, is that some kind of new fad I haven’t heard about? Of course, it only confuses the adults more when one of my children says they’re a boy-girl and that mom is a girl-boy but that’s rare. I’ve been telling my 11yo that ppl think he’s a girl because he’s got such a pretty face…there really can be no other explanation for it :) It gets to them after awhile, being called and teased for being girls, but they never do ask for a hair cut or to be different…I blame it on not being in school 😉

  13. Bree says:

    Hi Heather,
    I read your blog on and off but usually don’t comment.
    You write some very insightful things and often I forward a link to friends when something really speaks to me.

    This post about boys and long hair is something I wish more people could understand and be gentle about. My son decided when he was five that he wanted to have “big bushy hair” and started refusing hair cuts. It wasn’t a big deal to us at all, but the reactions we as a family have gotten in the past three years have been nothing short of ridiculous. My son loves his long curly hair (that weirdly looks exactly like my own) and has no idea that it is something he could be teased for.

    I was so sad to imagine your sweet boy being shunned over something so trivial and superficial. But then when you wrote about his response back at home just made me beam! What inner strength, confidence and security he’s got. Seriously awesome.

    “I’m so glad to know that he doesn’t feel the need to change to fit in or be accepted.”

    I couldn’t agree more. The world needs more like him.

  14. ahh… I am so glad I found your blog! just from first glance I think we have a lot in common! We just started our rv’ing adventures, working on getting our wvo system set up. We homeschool/unschool and have an awesome long haired boy too! So disturbing the judgement that some have towards something as simple as the length of your hair…. I guess it’s just more to learn about yourself and the world around you.

    anyway, wanted to say hi and look forward to getting to know your family more!

    brittany

  15. Sheri says:

    Hehehe, great post. The title is awesome. And you know, I had the opposite problem that Milo has. I used to have very short hair as a child and was always mistaken for a boy and then often laughed at when I tried to explain that I was a girl.

    Good on Milo for being proud of his ginger locks. Who wouldn’t be…okay, maybe Anne Shirley (Anne of Green Gables). 😛

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