I'm pretty sure my mother gave our one year old his first haircut while my wife and I were at work, without our permission. She denies doing so. I'm not sure how we should handle this.
(Wow this got really long.)
My parents came to stay for a week from out of town for our only child's first birthday. They offered to provide child care while they were here, and so to save some money and give them time with their only grandson, we gave our nanny the week off.
Our boy has luscious thick dark hair. It's naturally grown into a beautiful wavy mop that sometimes hangs down in front of his face. He looks like he's got a total emo-do and he gets compliments on it all the time. (The last time I got my haircut, I asked the lady to make it look like my son's hair.)
Here's where it gets complicated and interesting: He's half Indian and we've been planning on taking him to the Venkateshwara temple in Tirupati where the first haircut is traditionally given as an offering to god
. Everyone in my wife's family has done this as a child, and while it's not really important religiously to us, it is important culturally. As it turns out, for astrological reasons, it is much better to offer the hair in an odd numbered year (years 1 or 3) and since he's now in his second year it's not likely we'll make it another year without a haircut. To get around this, last week we cut a few locks and are mailing them to India just in case we decide to give him a cut in the next year. But still we were going to hold out as long as we could (and as I said, we happen to like the way it looks now). It's important to us to have our boy participate in as much of his cultural heritage as possible; we had him baptized into the Catholic Church using the exact same line of reasoning despite my family being well aware that I'm not a practicing Catholic.
Enter Grandma. For months, she's commented on his hair being too long, it comes up in every long distance iChat, and at every visit. Jokingly, she would threaten "Someday I'm going to cut that little boy's hair. I'm his grandma and it's my right." She knows about our plans for him and in the past I've just told her that really there's no compelling reason to cut it now and we're really too busy to do so. She was here in Seattle last week when we did the lock cutting ceremony (actually for religious reasons that I don't understand, my father was the one who had to do the cutting) and when we got the provisional okay from my wife's family to do a future non-temple haircut.
We think my mother did a more extensive trim of his bangs last Thursday. It's very subtle and it's clear she didn't cut hair anywhere but the front. My mother didn't say anything, and my wife didn't notice anything when she got home from work, but when I saw my son next on Friday morning it was pretty obvious to me. My wife agrees now that it's clearly shorter in front, you used to be able to stretch his wavy hair past his nose and now it comes to his brow.
We were obviously really taken aback and, in the interest of harmony, decided not to say anything until after his birthday party. My mother did comment a couple times over the weekend that his hair is "still too long" but when I asked her point blank, in the presence of my wife and father, whether she cut his hair further than we did in the lock cutting ceremony, she said no and I merely said "Oh, his hair looks shorter to me" and said nothing further. They flew home a couple hours ago.
My mother is just like me: strongly opinionated, occasionally obstinate. Unlike me, she's not terribly respectful generally of others' points of view and is socially very conservative. My past relationship with my parents has been cordial, if not occasionally warm, but there are some lingering issues between us from my rebellious teenage and college years; we keep the peace by ignoring certain topics and living geographically far away them. Wisely, my wife knows that if I really push this haircut issue, it's going to emotionally escalate quickly. Until now, my parents been fairly careful with our son, asking permission if they can give certain foods or gifts or Tylenol before doing so. But now we're not sure we should trust them alone with our son, especially if they're willing to lie about things. My assessment, based on past experience, is that I suspect his hair was just really bothering her (she's a little OCD) and she decided that it just wasn't a big deal to do this. But lying about it seems really out of character, so much so that I have lingering doubts myself despite looking at before and after photos. But I wouldn't put it past her.
So I'm not exactly sure what to do now. The easy thing would be to just let it go. There's really no harm here and I do not want to deprive my son of the love of his grandparents over this. But a huge part of me is really offended that they overstepped their bounds and I feel like something should be said. I do not want to establish the habit of letting their wishes trump mine when it comes to the care of my son. If she continues to deny the whole thing do I call her out as a liar? Over a haircut? And can I really trust her over other issues if I leave him in her care?
My wife and I are totally on the same page with this, she's letting me take the lead, since they're my parents. I've discussed it with my only sibling , who doesn't have children, but she lives 1000 miles from us and is really too far removed to be involved, although sympathetic and helpful.