Well, tonight, he asked me to cut it. He did it in his circuitous way that let me know he had mixed feelings about it, so I played it cool and followed his lead.
He told me he didn't like the feel of the dreads. They were soft, he said, but he didn't like his hair to feel that kind of soft. So, I set the camp chair out in the back yard and got my scissors. The cutting itself was uneventful. No ear snips or anything like that. He was antsy, but I'm pretty quick and did a solid job.
I knew better than to make a big deal about it. He is the kid who wants you not to notice anything new or different about him, but rather wait until he brings it up, if he brings it up, which he probably won't.
But 2 1/2-year-old little brothers are guileless wild cards in this situation. Fox walked out into the yard and the first thing he said was, "You look like a boy! An other little boy!"
(Daddy Honey walked out just as I was about to take this picture, and I think he made a surprised face at Woody, which was not appreciated.)
Woody, I knew, was already fighting feeling self-conscious, and embarrassed, and also, if I had to guess, sad and regretful about cutting it in the first place. So with this comment, all the big, hard feelings welled up and spilled out. He scowled and grit his teeth. He climbed into my lap, then pushed me away. He covered my mouth with his hands when I tried to talk to him, but then pulled my arms around him to hold him tighter. He pushed hard to keep the tears from falling, and when that failed, he buried his face in my shirt.
Finally, I suggested we take a walk in the dark where no one could see his new haircut. He said OK. We walked around three or four blocks, long enough, he thought, for dad and Fox to forget about his haircut. But just in case, as we approached the house, he whispered to get Joshua's attention through the open window and told him that he had "felt a little unconscious about what Fox said," and that he was going to "sneak in so Fox wouldn't notice."
Fox's biscuit with molasses was a fine diversion, and a bath and the Power Puff Girls smoothed out the last snaggy bits of emotion, though they might be raw for a day or two and close to the surface.