You Don’t Think They’ll Turn Out Like This

While waiting for a table at one of our favorite breakfast spots, I was sandwiched in between my almost 4yr old and the baby in his car seat on one side and on the other, a very nice couple who were chatty and pleasant and looked a little more Ashland than Portland: the woman had long dreadlocks and the man had his very long hair in two braids. We were all waiting for the rest of our parties to join us before being seated (a pesky Portland breakfast rule).

Soon, Dreadlocks and Braids were joined by four others, who I quickly deduced were Braids’ parents and brother, along with brother’s girlfriend. Braids’ mother could not stop staring at my boys and right before their party was called to be seated, she turned to me and said, “You don’t think they’ll turn out like this. They graduated from college with honors!” I wasn’t sure what she meant at first but then we happened to be seated next to them inside the restaurant.

She got up from her chair to specifically come over to tell me that I should enjoy dressing my boys alike (as they were in matching train shirts) now. “My two boys,” she pointed out, “See? One has braids. You just don’t know, you just can’t predict what they’ll be like. No jobs. Free spirits. Enjoy this stage.” Braids’ girlfriend spent most of breakfast talking about essential oils and saying profound things like, “I really believe that everything you need is right in front of you.”

In the car on the way home, I tried to picture either of my boys with long hair and braids, or with a girlfriend who wore dreadlocks and smelled like lavender and patchouli. I predict I’ll be like the mom in the restaurant: still willing to pay for breakfast and meet the girlfriend, but more than a little disappointed that my son’s hair is longer than mine.

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2 thoughts on “You Don’t Think They’ll Turn Out Like This

  1. I have to admit, I’m kinda disappointed to read that you feel this way. When I had a buzz cut, people had expectations of me that were based on nothing except my hair. They had expectations of my gender–they assumed I was male and frequently told me I was in the wrong bathroom or looking at the wrong items in the store. They had expectations about my sexuality–in this case I usually found out about it through someone else, so the judgments were made behind my back, but even when filtered, I heard plenty of it. But what I have become most acutely aware of recently is that they also had expectations of my character. I know that these expectations were completely based on hair because they’ve changed over the past year, and the most noticeable difference occurred last fall when my hair finally got longer than the average man’s hair. Without changing anything else, I have slowly become more approachable. People are more likely to smile at me, make a comment to me, or when I’m at work, to ask me for help. It’s nice to finally be treated as if I was actually a woman, but the fact that the only reason it’s happening is because of my hair is super frustrating. So, now I am really rooting for Peter to be the first President (for the last couple hundred years, anyway) with braids.

    • I definitely want to be an open-minded mother! I think you’re right that we have pre-conceived notions based on appearances and I can only hope that I love my kids just as much no matter their decisions about their appearance or college major. I loved your buzz cut, I love your earrings. I think you rock no matter what.

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