Life is full of transitions. I've always thought of these moments of big change as doorways I step through into another point in my life. Some are obvious -- getting married, moving to Ottawa, having my boys -- but some are less apparent but no less transformative. Since having my boys, I have gotten a lot of joy from watching them approach their own moments of transition with grace and aplomb, in their own time and in their own way. Boy#1 has always identified himself with his long hair. Flipped over his shoulders and tucked behind his ears, flapping behind him as he dashed down the sidewalk on the way to school, plastered to his forehead and stringy with summer sweat, his hair was a point of pride and the length a big part of his personal identity. I loved those long locks and his nonchalance about having hair longer than most of the girls in his class. He took that hair, longer than my own, and made it all boy -- right down to the 2lbs of sand that came out of it every time it was washed.
But, like everything, change is inevitable and this year Boy#1 informed me that it was time for something different. It was time for a cut and he wanted it short -- sentimental about his hair in the way I am, he decided the cut would wait until after school pictures were taken and he requested I save some of his hair for his memory box.
We went to the salon and I watched as he nervously climbed up into the chair for his first major haircut in years -- the same salon where he got his first haircut, and the other two haircuts in between (not counting the time I shaved his head, of course ;)). Hair fell in waves around the bottom of the chair, getting swept up almost as soon as it touched the floor.
The boy that emerged looked younger and older at the same time. The last time his hair was this short was when he was 5, so I see remnants of the pudgy-cheeked 5-year old hiding in the older face of the 8-year old, but this boy is heartbreakingly almost-9 and there's no mistaking it. He, himself, says that his new 'do' makes him feel older and that the change was good. He loves the new cut.
I, however, feel like I've watched him walk through another doorway -- another of the many he will walk through on his way to becoming a man -- and my heart clenches a bit and my eyes tear up a little, and I remember how I felt looking at him as a newborn -- bald as a cue ball -- trying to imagine the boy he would become. Now I find myself looking at him and imagining the man, and wondering how time has flown so fast.