I was milling around our local park a while back with the other parents while our kids were burning off their excess energy and one of the dads, a towering guy with a mohawk, face tattoos, and a leather jacket who was placidly pushing his giggling little girl in a swing, asked me if strangers ever assume Jude is a girl because his hair is long. The short answer: yes and no.
My first response was no, not really, because inside our insulated little community boys having long hair is de rigueur. Shrug your shoulders! Pass the organic beet juice! In fact at the park that day Jude probably had the shortest hair of any of the 20+ kids chasing each other around the swingset, whether they were be-penised or be-ginaed and I'm pretty sure one of Jude's (boy) friends was wearing a dress.
In a lot of ways it's easy for me to forget that some of our parenting decisions differ from the average suburban minivan because as long as I don't leave our neighborhood we're just another face in a crowd of Ina May books and Ergo carriers.
However when out in the big wide world we do get strangers who assume Jude is a girl, usually from behind or at a quick glance, and 99% of the time it's someone either tottering into senility's garage or dressed head to toe in camo. Here's what I think about that:
1.) I don't give a shit.
2.) Also, don't give a shit.
3.) Not offended at all, because I don't give a shit.
Before our impromptu park conversation I never really noticed, but over the past few weeks I've noted that people do occasionally refer to him as a her or he as she. It doesn't make me angry and I'm not offended by it. I don't even bother to correct them.
To me his hair doesn't seem particularly long, especially with the Biebs' semi-long sideswept mop all the stylish rage among the teen set, but even so it's an entirely harmless misperception from someone we're never going to see again. Since we also don't dress him in giant baggy cargo pants and shirts with TRUCKS and BASEBALLS emblazoned on them I can see how it might be confusing for the average Walmart shopper. I'm certainly not going to hold a grudge about it, even if I think they're gently misguided.
As far as I'm concerned the most important thing is that Jude likes his hair, which he does, and the rule is as long as he lets me brush it he can rock on like a wild little surfer dude crashin' the waves on his longboard. He likes it; we like it. That's about all the thought I've ever given it. We do trim it, so I don't think we'll go any longer than it is right now, but he can finally tuck it behind his ears so it's not in his face all the time and anyone who has ever grown out their bangs knows you don't mess with that kind of slow, painful success.
We were at McDonalds last week grabbing some sweet delicious mouth poison (soda) for Jon and I when a lady in her 70's came up and started talking to Jude. "What a pretty little girl you are!" she crooned, and stuck our her creepy witch finger.
"I'm not a girl. Look, this is my robot."
She then followed him around the room saying "Pretty girl! Pretty girl! Pretty girl!" and poking him in the back while he screamed. When she finally got distracted by a tissue or a passing bird or whatever and walked away he looked at her out of the side of his eye over his shoulder and whispered, "Old people scare me."
I know honey, meeeeee too.