I try. I really do. But haircuts are not my thing. The one time I tried to cut my own hair (FYI never trim your own bangs), I looked like a Lego man whose hair you can pop off…if only. Charlie’s hair is a whole different animal. Take for instance its various textures. The front is relatively straight but tends to lean up and towards the right, like a pompadour. The back is blonder, coarser, and…curly. His head is also flat-ish on the back and narrow on the sides, like a cute Frankenstein’s monster.
Here’s the thing about special needs, it shows up in all different ways. It’s not just walking and talking and socializing. It’s also at the hairdresser. I waited as long as I could before the first cut. It helped that he didn’t have anything but duck fuzz until over a year old. And that first trim I did myself, proudly. All it took was a snip at the back and those locks were tucked away in an envelope for safe keeping.
But then something happened. He turned into a chia pet. It started growing wildly and in all directions. After one exhausting hair cutting session on the deck where he came out looking EXACTLY THE SAME but with both of us in tears, I decided to take him to the professionals. But I knew better than to drop a wad of cash at the fancy kid’s salon where he sits in a car-shaped chair and a clown sings in the background to get him to sit still. Too much stimulus with scissors coming at him would send him into a tailspin. And who wants a clown watching you get your hair cut?
So off to Great Clips we went. I packed toy SUVs, ambulances, tow trucks, and buses. I packed yogurt melts and crackers and water. I charged the iPhone and pulled up YouTube for maximum train-watching distraction. It still went wonky. He wouldn’t sit still because the chair was too big and not supportive enough for him. He did not like the cape covering his hands. The cold metal on his neck from the scissors sent him flinching and dodging. Forget about the electric razor. Even the sound of the snip of hair made him wince. Despite it all, we came out with an okay haircut and he seemed to forget all about it once the stylist gave him a sucker…but I was another story. I was a mess. It was too traumatic. I did not want to do it all over again every month. Could he rock the long hair?
Over the years it has gotten better, or I have trained my instincts to sense when the air is just right to give it a try. We have our favorite guy, Rick, who knows what to expect when he sees us wheeling in. We know to give him his favorite sucker BEFORE the haircut, even if it turns into a hairball by the end. And I think Charlie knows it will all be over in ten minutes if he can just be still. This to me is a sign that he’s maturing and can adapt if he chooses to (“choose” being the key word here…he’s an opinionated four-year old).
But if you see my child coming at you and his hair looks like a deranged dandelion, give him a high five and some grace because a haircut is one thing in life I think we should get a free pass on, don’t you?
Have you ever tried to cut your own hair? What’s the worst haircut you’ve ever had? Do your kids act the same way?