I am grumpy.
The weather sucks.
It’s June, and summer vacation has officially started. The weather sucks. And I am grumpy…
However… though the weather hasn’t much cooperated here in Seattle (folks are bandying around the term “Junuary” to describe this gloomy, overcast, and rather chilly month – very bleak), it’s still that time of year again: time for the summer haircut. Or buzz cut, as the case may be.
Yep, last week I got out the clippers and shaved the mop off my 5yo’s head.
I probably would’ve waited a bit longer… you know, either upon arrival of summer (and no, contrary to popular belief, June 20 was NOT the start of summer, no matter what the celestial experts say; here in Seattle, summer doesn’t officially begin until the day after the 4th of July, on which occasion it inevitably rains…), or upon being visited by the uncontrollable (and somewhat irrational, I admit it) urge to put a barrette in my son’s hair just to see his beautiful blue eyes (and though I’m perfectly comfortable with him wanting to put a barrette in his own hair, that’s his decision, not mine, and so far he has never ever made that decision…) – but both happenings were at least a few weeks off – and… swim lessons began this week. And that meant wearing goggles. And as Liam was already highly resistant to the idea of wearing goggles (who knows why, he never explained and I didn’t really want to know, he just really really really didn’t want to wear goggles), I decided that we needn’t up the discomfort factor with pulled and snagged and tugged hair caught in the straps of said despised goggles. So…
… he needed a haircut.
Recognizing the reality – nay, the gravity – of the situation, I squared my shoulders, took a deep breath, prepared for a royal battle, and, on Monday, while the baby napped, plugged in the clippers, put a chair in the middle of the kitchen floor, and called Liam in for his summer haircut…
Knowing from experience that this wasn’t going to be easy, and knowing that I was grumpy (stupid weather) and therefore my patience was already stretched a bit thin, I rehearsed the rational arguments I had prepared (in the middle of the night, naturally, when I woke up at 3am to worry about swim lessons), I steeled myself to endure his heart-tugging pleadings and beseechings, I restocked the tissues for the inevitable waterworks (his and mine), and watched my tousle-haired child walk in…
… and calmly ask for a lollipop.
Which I gave him (my mouth wide open).
And then he sat down. In the chair. In the middle of the kitchen (my jaw hitting the floor).
He didn’t run and hide under the bed (it’d have to be my bed, though; his bed has storage underneath…), roll his eyes (they learn this trick so young, these days!), argue until he was blue in the face (or rather, blotchy in the face), or even sigh (very dramatically) in exasperation as he sat in the chair; he just took his beloved Dum Dum sucker, stuck it in his mouth, and I turned on the clippers…
And shaved his head as fast as I could!
The thing is, he didn’t always resist having his hair cut. I used to take him to the kid salon for his trims; when he was young and super wiggly, I just didn’t trust myself with a pair of sharp scissors around his delicate little ears… eyes… neck… I mean, sheesh!, safety is a priority! Plus, what’s not to love about watching your child contentedly (contentedly!) sit in a fire engine chair and play with action heroes and toy cars while a professional stylist Edward Scissorhands an impeccable hairdo in the few minutes allotted her before boredom, panic, or a good ol’ fashioned temper tantrum sets in? Liam liked visiting the salon so much that sometimes he even asked to get his hair cut. Yep, in the early years, haircuts at the kid salon were worth EVERY PENNY.
No… haircuts didn’t become an issue until I decided to start saving some of those pennies (I mean $25 plus tip for a cut?? That’s a lot of wine at the outlet shop!! Just sayin’…) when he got a bit older and was finally capable of holding still long enough for me to cut his hair myself, without nicking him or otherwise puncturing his carotid artery. But, as I should have expected, he didn’t want me to cut his hair. After all, I don’t have a fancy seat for him to sit in, and all the cars and action figures I have for him are old, “I’ve already played with that” (said in the absolute most woebegone tone any child in the whole history of the world has ever mustered) toys. So, the first few haircuts took more than a little convincing on my part to even get him near me and my clippers.
And then, of course, the fact that the first haircut I gave Liam took um, well, two days didn’t exactly help matters. I know!! I know, I know, I know… It’s crazy… but the thing is, and I’m sorry to confess it, but I’m just not a crafty person. I’m the kind of person you shouldn’t trust with scissors, unless straight lines aren’t important to you. I’m the kind of person who is incapable of making my children their own Halloween costumes if they require anything more elaborate than looking like a hobo (hey, I can tie a stuffed red bandana on a stick with the best of them…). I’m the kind of person who puts twenty – TWENTY! – holes in the wall just to hang up one small picture frame. And even then, it’ll look crooked. So no, I’m not kidding… it took two days – TWO DAYS! – to cut Liam’s hair that first time. You need the details? Really? Okay… but it’s not pretty… I was just trying to keep his hair a bit longer on top and shorter on the sides and the back, pretty standard little boy haircut, right? But I couldn’t for THE LIFE OF ME get the line straight – he looked like I’d placed a lopsided bowl on his head, and there’s just nothing – nothing I tell you! – good about that look. So, it took two days for me to keep cutting up the longer side until it finally looked even…
After this first hair trimming debacle, it took about four or five really ssssslllllooooowwwww, torturous, and emotionally scarring (for both of us) haircuts before, on the verge of quitting my amateur hair styling practice forever, and with a stroke of pure genius, I remembered that the kid salon gave (wait for it… wait for it…) post-haircut lollipops to all the kids. Ah-ha! I just needed to dangle a little treat in front of him, like the proverbial carrot before the horse! Let’s see… I had leftover Halloween candy in the cupboard… there had to be some lollipops in there… I searched frantically for a sucker, knowing that I had about 1.5 seconds before my son successfully made his escape to the relative safety of the living room, where he knew I couldn’t follow him with the clippers (being ball-and-chained to the electric outlet – for crying out loud, someone really needs to create cordless clippers; she or he would be a bazillionaire within the year). Finally! I found one last lollipop!! And offered it to my precious, if traumatized, child in attempts to win his affections and good behavior…
And it worked. I cut his hair. And he then he got his sucker.
Of course, that was a two-lollipop haircut – one for each of the two days it took for me to get everything to look even (I’m sorry, but it’s really hard for me to cut a straight line! I have no excuses for myself…). And he still resisted me every time I mentioned he needed a haircut. And he still whined his way through every haircut I gave him (though I’m happy to report it takes me less than 24 hours to cut his hair, these days – I’m getting quicker every time!), after which he would sullenly take his “reward” and leave me to clean up the piles of hair left on the bathroom or kitchen floor.
This is why I was shocked, yes shocked!, that he was so ready and willing to have his haircut last week. If I had known I just needed to give him the lollipop BEFORE his haircut, rather than AFTER, I would have purchased a lifetime supply of Dum Dums immediately, and life would’ve been so much easier (he really couldn’t have informed me of this trick several haircuts ago?!)!! Of course, I had to wash little bits of hair from his sticky lollipop several times while cutting said little bits of hair from his head (hey, if he was fine with it, I was fine with it!), and the haircut took a bit longer as I felt obligated to turn off the electrical appliance every time I ran the water in the sink (given that I’d rather avoid electrocution; what can I say? I’m a safety girl!!). But the whine-free, bicker-free, battle-free haircutting session was, to be honest, A Really Enjoyable Experience. It didn’t even take two days this time!!
And in spite of being a Grumpy Gus (uh, where is the sunshine?!), it turns out, I rather LIKED cutting my son’s hair. I felt so… so… what’s the word? Oh, yeah, so COMPETENT. And as a very non-crafty kinda person, and as the mama of a very chaotic household, feeling competent is a fairly rare occurrence these days. So rare, in fact, that [cue harp music, add Scooby-Doo style shimmery transition] the moment triggered all my melodramatic tendencies (of which I have many) and I envisioned the moment as sugary-sweet as Norman Rockwell might have: the smiling mother cutting her red-and-white-striped-shirt-clad son’s hair in the middle of the kitchen, while the boy lets the dog lick his sucker and the summer breeze ripples through the curtains of the open window… [and SNAP back to reality…]
Well, though my smile might have looked more like a grimace (rain rain go away!), and my son’s style gravitates more toward graphic tees, and though there’s no way my son would share his lollipop with the dogs, and though both of our dogs are huge and don’t come close to resembling the little lapdogs that populate Rockwell paintings, and though I don’t have curtains at my kitchen window (it’s on my to-do list, sigh…), and though the summer breeze is currently so blustery and cold my window isn’t even open (it’s June; my windows should be open!!)… at least my short-haired son wore his despised goggles at swim lessons that day with nary a complaint.
Lollipops. Are. My. Hero.
And I feel quite pleased with myself (why, yes, I am puffing up my chest even as I type!) every time I look at my son and his new haircut.
Looking at him, I feel happy (happy? Yes, HAPPY!!). He’s like a little ray of much-needed sunshine.
Looking at him joyfully frolic in the pool, oblivious to the fact that it’s RAINING (lessons are only cancelled if there’s thunder and lightning), he reminds me – through all my seasonal affective disorder grumpiness – that, even though summer might be holding out on us (oh, “Junuary,” you are such a tease!), my little boy will always be my little sunshine.
(No matter how long his hair gets…)