It was bright and cheery August morning, perfect for exploring nature so I headed out with the kids to the RBG to enjoy the gardens. We walked past some gentlemen chatting on our way in to the gardens, said hello and carried on.
The gardens are exploding with life – full of butterflies, bees and other happy insects going from flower to flower carrying on as nature intended. We are always on the look out for different bugs, plants and critters we haven’t noticed previously. Today we took note in a wee little butterfly as it floated effortlessly (well in my mind – I imagine it actually takes a fair amount of effort on their part 😉 ) throughout mounds of summer blooms.
It was time for us to head on home so we said our goodbyes to the flowers, trees and insects and made our walk back to the truck. We passed the same gentlemen as we returned and this time they commented on my sons hair. He has a glorious mop of light blonde locks that he loves. At first I thought they admired it but than it dawned on me that the general feeling was that I should be cutting it. These men were not mean and I’m certain it wasn’t ill intended but it made me think of they way we as a society have raised our boys.
For the most part the reaction to my sons hair is really good. I would say 95% of the time people genuinely love it and think it’s great that he has it exactly how he wants it. But there is this other group of people who really feel I as a mom need to “put my foot down” and tell him his hair is unacceptable. He is 3yrs old. And even if he was 13yrs old, it is ultimately his hair and his body. What am I supposed to tell him – your hair is too… too what? Feminine?! Because it is not. And if that handful of people think there is something wrong with it, well than it’s on them and not me.
The sad reality is that when he starts school there is a very real chance some other child will make fun of his hair and he will want to cut it. It hurts my heart to think of this possibility, to know that the words of his classmates will have an edge so powerful they just might alter how he perceives himself.
But this attitude is learned and we can change it. It starts with acceptance. Accepting that someone else’s attributes whether genetic or chosen do not affect your life in any possible way. That long hair on a boy or short hair on a girl does not make one more feminine or masculine than the other.
So, I think back to that little butterfly and I envy it a little simply because it exists as it should fluttering about with no external criticism inhibiting it’s natural duties. As humans I think we could all learn a lot from the butterflies that pass us by all summer long. No matter their colour, size or shape they dance harmoniously over the gorgeous landscape.
If a butterfly choses to go left when the others go right it will be just fine. And you know what? So will my son and daughter and anyone else who goes against the grain (or with it!). We are all in this together.
Go chase the butterflies!