Our dog loves the hair dryer. She’ll come bounding from the opposite side of the house at the sound and rub up against me like a cat (despite the fact she’s the size of a small deer) until I blow it down her back. It’s like a warm caress, I suppose. Too bad I blow my hair dry about once a month… date nights and big holidays (we’re talking Christmas, not President’s Day). The twins like it too. They lift up their shirts so I can blow it on their bellies and then they hug themselves, like they can’t believe their warm luck.
It’s not lucky for Charlie. He doesn’t like the hair dryer or the vacuum. If he could go running in the opposite direction, he would. It’s not a mild aversion either. He starts by covering his ears and proceeds to cry a huge silent wail that eventually turns into loud sobs and big fat tears that only a cartoon character should be able to muster. Something about that sound scratches at a part of him that needs quiet and hugs. It rips at him like a Band-aid.
So when I went to take him for a haircut last week, I planned as best I could. I checked in online. I aimed for a slow time with little to no other patrons (for their sakes). I brought music toys to drown out the noise. I had my phone charged. He’d been sick recently so I waited it out until I thought he was back to normal status mentally, physically and emotionally. This is how we have to prepare. I’ve written about why he always needs a haircut before. But this was the perfect storm.
My phone flashed me the spinning wheel of death like a not so subtle profanity, before we’d even begun. Charlie grabbed at it, excited at first and then mad and then really really sad. He looked at me like I’d teased him on purpose. Like I’d promised the world and handed him chump change. And then somewhere behind us, someone flipped on a dryer, like a bomb. Charlie exploded in silent sobs. He grabbed his head and ducked. His tiny body heaved in his stroller like he was trying to burrow into it…anywhere to get away from the noise.
And then something miraculous happened. Our hairdresser, our “old familiar” who already knew Charlie, stood up without batting an eye and asked, “do you want to move this gig outside?” I might have fallen in love with her a little just then.
She grabbed her scissors and spray bottle and comb and I grabbed Charlie and we sat on a little bench outside as she cut his hair while I sang Old MacDonald with every single animal, vegetable or mineral I could think of. It was a crazy cool farm by the end. And an older gentleman in a nice suit stopped on his way into the restaurant next door to help me with a few animal noises. We were a spectacle. We were a motley crew of street performers on that weird, warm February day. And Charlie smiled through a haircut for the first time in his life.
Angels do walk among us. Mine was at Great Clips last week. But I’ve met them before. At Publix where the manager stood with the cart that held Charlie and sang to him so I could run to the bathroom. At the center where Charlie gets aquatic therapy when our therapist applied for a grant without telling us that got us ten free sessions just when we had run out of money. At Costco when a lady who had two special needs sons gave me a hug when she saw me with Charlie and told me I was doing a good job. At every single door that people have opened for us. At every single curb that people have helped me lift his wheelchair. At every single time a child asks if they can help push Charlie on the playground and talks to him directly. There are angels everywhere. Sometimes I forget. Sometimes I only see the obstacles–the people and places to be avoided. Which is exactly when we meet someone in the most random of settings who reminds me, again, that someone is taking care of my son with more power and foresight and miraculous magic than I could ever wield. God brought us Charlie and me a host of angels to pave the way.
Thanks Meg for letting me recap.