When I imagined becoming a parent, I pictured myself with one child...a girl. This girl would be independent, stubborn, opinionated, brave, strong, and smart. She would climb trees and play in the dirt and would dress accordingly. She would wear jeans and t-shirts and shun dresses and frills. She would be a little rough around the edges but she would be, beautifully, her own person. Years later, I did have a girl. She was independent, stubborn and opinionated from a very early age. But, this girl also loved dresses and frills and began picking out her own clothes when she was only 18 months old. She refused to wear jeans and t-shirts, sometimes respectfully and sometimes not. She wanted pig tails, barrettes and painted fingernails. This girl told me that she just wanted to be pretty and I wandered through life muttering to myself, "This was not how things were supposed to be". I was not supposed to have a girly girl.
A few days ago, Zeca came to us and asked us to shave her head. I was surprised and figured that she must not know what the words meant so I said, "You want to get your hair cut?" and she said, "No, I want my hair shaved off". I told her I would take her to get her hair cut and she said, "No, mama! I want it all gone!" She knew exactly what she wanted. Three to six year olds notice hair. They use it to categorize people by gender...boys have short hair and girls have long hair. Zeca has said this herself, in spite of the fact that many of the women in her life have short hair. So, our daughter is giving us an opportunity to smash a stereotype and I can't bring myself to do it. I know it is only hair and I know it will grow back. Still, I find myself wondering what people will say about a girl with a buzz cut. What will my sister say? What will the other parents at school say? What will my mother say? She has already confessed that, when we had a girl, she worried most about what we would do to her hair. That may very well be the root of my angst...homophobia. This feels like one of those moments when a simple act, a haircut, might be colored by the fact that we are lesbians.
So, I find myself in a strange place. My daughter, once again, wants to define her own appearance. She wants to be, beautifully, her own person which is what I always wanted. I'm just not sure, however, that I am brave enough to help her.