My son needed a haircut, and I decided that I was the person to do it. This was a mistake.
Henry hates getting haircuts, not because he dislikes the haircutting experience so much; he just likes longer hair. And every barber in town seems committed to cutting his hair way too short. He has a baby face still, which naturally I love, and fresh out of a haircut, he looks about three years younger. This is adorable to us, but I don’t blame him for finding it distasteful. He’s inherited Scott’s round-headedness, and he needs a little length to balance things out. (I on the other hand have a head shaped like a pencil eraser and the only thing I can do to balance it is wear comically oversized ear muffs, which let me tell you are not practical most days of the year.) But at some point the longish hair gets too long and disorderly and order must be restored.
I cut Henry’s hair once before, a couple of years ago. I couldn’t remember how that worked out; looking back on it, I was sure it went fine. Scott, however, insisted that it didn’t go well at all. He said I swore I would never cut hair again. Henry also remembered the last haircut as being distinctly not fun. I probably scoured the memories of the last haircut from my mind, but anyway I guess I’m too good at memory scouring.
It was cold (not polar vortex cold, but cold enough) and snowy and we were all in our jammies, so I announced that I was ready to have another go at haircutting. Wasn’t this easier? And budget friendlier? I spent the next hour studying Youtube videos of people cutting other people’s hair, and the people cutting the hair didn’t seem so worked up about it. I was sure I had a good enough grasp of the technique. You grab a hunk of hair, you snip it, you move on. Piece of cake.
Only it turned out that hair is NOT LIKE CAKE and if it is, it is a very confusing cake with all kinds of dimensions and difficulties that I had not considered. All the wisdom I had gleaned from my minutes of youtube-watching exited my head the minute I started cutting. It’s like you need training for this!
I would cut a section, then try to move on and instantly lose the last section and which part did I cut again, and how short? And why does all his hair look the same? Can’t the cut hair, like, change color or something? Not to mention, my haircutting shears were stupidly dull, probably because they’ve been used for everything from cutting wrapping paper to craft projects, so while I was trying to cut into his surprisingly tough hair the scissors were just pushing the hair away, and it felt less like snippety-snip-snip and more like HACK HACK HACK. Like I was reaping crops with a spork.
I hacked for quite a while. Then I stepped back to check my progress. It looked kind of the same except there were little hunks missing here and there. Some of the hunks were not the same size as the other hunks. This was troubling. There was a lot of hair on the floor. Henry asked me if I was done yet. He was being very patient, but I was now getting irritable because I realized I had no idea what I was doing and I was about to make him look very stupid. JUST A MINUTE, I ordered, and I went back in. I kept doing this. Luckily Henry has a lot of extra hair, so I couldn’t do too much damage, at least not if I gave up before nightfall.
The ninth time I stepped back to check my progress, I realized that I was well on my way toward giving him the Imogene Coca.
“No,” I said, finally. “No.”
I placed my shears on the kitchen counter, and called for Scott. Scott came to me. “Mistakes were made,” I told him. He pointed out that he told me this would happen. I decided to forgive him for the attitude. Henry checked himself out in the mirror. “It doesn’t look…that bad,” he said. He is very nice, and very lazy.
“No, my son,” I said. “No. The front is bad enough, but you haven't even checked out the back, where everything has gone crazy. No, you must go to a barber. A real one. For I am not a barber. I know this now.” It’s important for kids to see their parents as fallible human beings who are easily fooled by internet videos. Right? I think I read that somewhere. Anyway he was annoyed with me. Scott couldn’t be annoyed because I was too busy trying to impale myself on my shears. I can get pretty dramatic.
Once everyone had calmed down, Scott and Henry dressed and went out into the cold and the wind to have a professional fix my terrible mistakes, and I swept away a mountain of hair and took a shower, because I was super sweaty. When they came back, Henry looked surprisingly normal, and of course he got a lollipop, so I was forgiven. Scott made me promise I’d remember what happened for next time. I probably won’t, but fortunately I have this post.