Tuesday, February 07, 2012
It started a few years ago when my son noticed a young teenage girl in a bikini at the beach resort where we were spending our summer vacation. I had to ask my husband to be sure I saw and heard what I thought I saw and heard. And yes, it was true. My four- year-old son had noticed a pretty girl in a bathing suit, and he wasn't commenting on her elbows, if you know what I mean. This may have been the first time I realized my son was growing up–and not just by inches and pounds.
Fast forward over the years, and I can view many snapshots in my mind of myself reacting to grown up comments by my son. Unless you live under a rock, by age three or four, your child is going to be exposed to a plethora of images, ideas, and commentary about our world. Some of it you try to shield from him because it's not age-appropriate, or it's not something you want him to learn or see at all. You can try to hold on to his innocence as long as possible, but outside forces creep in, and before you know it, he's absorbing all this information, processing it, and spitting it out! Testing the limits of his knowledge and your boundaries.
Each time I hear my son say something or watch him do something that is surprisingly mature beyond his years, I realize he is inching more and more toward becoming a teenager. (Cue scary music.) There's nothing I can do about it. I can't freeze-frame him as a cute little boy who asks, "momma, can I have a balloon?" One of these days he's going to turn to me and say, "Mom, can I have the keys to the car?" And in my mind, I will say "no."
What made me stand up and take notice recently, of just how fast my little man is growing up, was when he got his hair cut. Before I could talk him out of it, my little boy blue was having his long blonde locks cut in favor of short spikes that can be gelled into a Mohawk! The adorable pageboy haircut he'd sported for five years was on the floor in a heap, and he was grinning from ear to ear. As was my husband. I was not amused.
It's not that it doesn't look adorable, too. I'm just not ready for this leap forward in hairstyles that says he's not a little boy anymore. My hairdresser, who's been cutting my son's hair since he had hair to cut, told me to relax. "He's growing up. He wants a big boy haircut," she said. I was shocked that he asked her to cut it so short, and even more surprised that he didn't ask me if it was okay. He didn't ask me. He didn't need my input.
As much as I want my son to grow up, to be independent, to have a mind of his own, and to make his own choices, I also want him to stay cute, and sweet, and little, and innocent–and to need my approval on haircuts just a little while longer.