I wear many hats at home: mom, wife, friend, teacher, counselor, chef, housekeeper, toy finder, schedule maker, comforter, fish keeper, homework nagger, encourager, discipliner, etc. Beginning this week I realized that I’m also a hairdresser for both kids.
In the past, I took Elliot to a salon for two separate haircuts, but we’d all come home exhausted and traumatized from his nonstop crying. If the hairdresser got close to his head, he’d cry and try to squirm away by pulling off the velcro from the haircut cape. It was exasperating to hold him while his hair got all over me. I decided to save us from the trouble and cut his hair at home instead.
Mostly the hair cuts turn out well, even to my surprise. Everyone is content and I congratulate myself for saving time, money, and jangled nerves. But…there’s the other part too. I accidentally cut too much, unevenly, or make blunt cuts that don’t blend naturally with the rest of the hair.
I finally told Elliot that we are going to trim his bangs. It’s been a few months since his last successful haircut, so I assumed this one would be the same. These days he likes his bangs long and swept over to the side. We negotiated: he’ll let me cut his hair after I’ve watched him play several rounds of video games.
I started out confident but got nervous after the bangs turned out jagged. I’m not a trained hairdresser! He must’ve sensed my uneasiness because he ran to the mirror to check out the damage. When I went to see what his response would be, it was what I expected. Tears.
Previously he’d ignore a bad haircut and forget all about it. Not this time! He checked his hair in the mirror at various angles, combed his hair with his fingers, wet it with water, recombed, and as the last resort, shook out his hair as though that’d settle the wonky bangs into place. He asked me how I could do this to his hair. I offered to style it with pomade but he told me to leave the bathroom so he could be alone.
I realized that he’s not a small kid anymore; hairstyle is a big deal to him now. It’s a sensitive subject for growing kids about their identity, confidence, and appearances. What am I saying? It’s sensitive for grown ups too. A bad haircut makes me grumpy too.
I put my ear to the bathroom door and heard soft snapping scissor sounds. Alarmed I knocked loudly and asked if he was cutting hair!! I imagined opening the door to hair shredded all over the sink with bangs cut too close to his hairline, maybe even a mullet (which always reminds me of my 8th grade science teacher). My imagination went ahead of me. He only snipped a tiny bit. But it was a close call. He could’ve been tempted to go ahead and cut his hair.
I called in the big guns; Chris, you gotta help me fix this hair issue!! I tried not to ask him since he was inundated with video meetings that day and the following day, but this qualified as an emergency. He got the supplies and calmly proceeded to snip away the excess hair from the sides and cut it in proportion to the very short bangs. My approach is the exact antithesis to his; not methodical but unorganized in the name of creativity. Elliot was slightly appeased with the end result, but his eyes began to tear up again.
It’s been four days since the hair fiasco. Today he tells me that he likes his new haircut and that his hair is beginning to grow out. I smiled but inside I couldn’t help rolling my eyes.
My conclusion: I’m taking off my hairdresser hat and confidently passing it onto Chris. He has my blessing and profuse thanks.