I love this picture of these two. Something about it makes me giggle (mostly Emma's expression) and it gives me a feeling of warmth, too. I look and just can't believe how big they've grown - it feels like it's happened so quickly, not that long ago Eli looked an awful lot like Opal does now. Now he and Emma are a constant force, inventing games together and finally living in overlapping worlds. When her friends come over, they all play together instead of trying to shut the 'baby' out in the hall. Often times I find myself thinking of how lucky they are to have each other, and they really are. I hope they never lose sight of that as the years go by.
What also dawns on me when I look at this picture...is that at this point, my kids have ended up with the same hair. Hair is something I mostly consider inconsequential; I just don't think about it much. I wash and brush mine, I'm glad it keeps me warm, and that's about it! ;) However, with my kids, it's been the topic of quite a lot of discussion, and hence is even ending up on my blog!
So, Eli's hair has drawn a lot of comments lately from the general public. Actually people have been commenting on it ever since it passed his ears, but now that it looks like this, he gets called a girl just about every single day. Almost every stranger we meet assumes that he is a girl. (They also tend to assume that Opal is a boy because she is wearing his blue baby woolens all the time.) Eli is built like a miniature linebacker, and for the most part, he wears what our culture considers 'boy' clothes, but he does like to wear nail polish like his big sister sometimes, and yes, he loves to dance to Beyonce. But mostly it's just the hair that people notice. And it seems to make a people nervous or uncomfortable when they realize he's a boy. I didn't really expect that people would react like this, or that his hair would ever be an issue at all. It's something I just don't really think about. Of all the things I have to think about during the day, his hair is pretty low on my list. Unless there is gum in it!
He's three years old. He has long hair. So what, right? I mean, how many decades has it been since this? (Yes that's a young David Bowie in the video!)
But people don't like to be confused. Some folks have insisted that I cut his hair so that he'll look like all the other boys. But his hair isn't bothering him. He doesn't care if he looks like the other boys. He's not thinking of what he looks like, anyhow. He has more important business to attend to.
I asked him if he liked his hair today, and he said, 'yes,' in a way that seemed confused as to why I was even asking. It was as if I'd asked him if he liked his eyebrows, or his hands. He does like to cut his own bangs (which he's done a few times!) but he's partial to the rest of it. And why shouldn't he be? It keeps his neck warm. It's soft and golden and shiny. Part of me just wants to let it be, just for its own sake. It's beautiful hair! If he likes it, why on earth do I need to cut it? What's wrong with it? Seriously, if I don't need to cut Emma's hair off, why do I need to cut his?
One thing I've noticed, though, is that in the midst of others' confusion about his gender, Eli is not the least bit offended. I realized that, unlike some folks, he doesn't see anything wrong with being a girl! It's not an insult, just a misunderstanding. He simply explains that his name is Eli and that, for the record, he's a 'he.' And then he goes about his business unperturbed.
Why should 'girl' be an insult?- after all, I'm female, Emma is female, Opal is female...why should he be offended?
I want to raise a boy who respects, cares about, and listens to women and girls, who sees us all as equal. What I am seeing is that he already does. I hope I can do my part to help him hold on to this. I hope others will support me in this, and in other families as they raise their sons. It's so important.
In the meantime, if he decides he wants a hair cut, he will have one. If he wants to let it grow, he can let it grow. It's his hair, after all. :)
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As for Opal, her hair is just barely starting to grow. And most of the time it's under a hat. Albeit a blue one. ;)
Have you encountered hair issues with your kids (or when you were a kid?) Feel free to share!
We have had a lovely fall. This weekend marks the turning of the year towards the dark time, the time of long nights, but I am carrying the glow of the fallen leaves within me.
...and also the color of the winter squashes. I look forward to them every year and they never disappoint!
We had an October full of pumpkins and Halloween costumes that were worn as often as possible...
...and afternoons of bright sun and brilliant autumn leaves. I tried to drink it in as best I could with all my senses!
Now we have finished another Halloween's revels, and baked for our beloved ancestors, and set our clocks back, and the rains have arrived...now we turn inward for the damp, dark, cold time, we turn towards winter's long nights, towards the sleep of our animal neighbors, towards a change in the birds and a quieting down of things. I used to dread this time of year outright, but now I welcome it. Turning towards the bear cave with a candle lit, and autumn's harvest of treasures stored up safely where they won't be forgotten...
Our first mountain hike with the babe. Opal's first bluebells, arnica, and Indian paintbrush. Her first view of the Skagit Valley from above.
It was a stunning day, and we had not planned to go, but it didn't take much encouraging for us to change our plans and head for the hills.
I was raised by folks who made an effort to bring me to the mountains. Looking back with the eyes of a parent I can see that it was not an easy thing to get us there - the packing, the planning, the driving, the time spent convincing me to keep going up those seemingly endless switchbacks. My parents did not need to give me a love for nature - I believe it is part of our birthright as human beings. But I can see how my parents kept that love from being lost, how they helped tend and nurture that fire in me and keep it alive through the times I may have abandoned it. I hope very much that I can do the same for my children, if need be, but mostly I pray that their fire always burn strong.