Splitting Hairs

Posted by on Apr 8, 2010 | 4 comments

Splitting Hairs

Like most moms on a budget, I decided I could handle the task of cutting my kids’ hair.  They have curly hair, how hard could it be?

For one, I have no idea how to cut hair.

Secondly, the children who require grooming have two completely different heads of hair.  Lennon has baby-fine, thin curly hair that is often straight, making him look like a small Nick Nolte on a bad day.   Jack has a thick head of unruly curls that are sometimes not curls, and are often chunks that stick out in a chaotic jumble.

And of course, running a not-so-distand third, there is the tiny little fact that Jack is a tad sensitive about people messing with his head.

First, a bit of history.  Jack got his first haircut at 22 months, after I looked at him one day and saw a tiny Leif Garrett looking back at me (for those of you not as ancient as myself, think a male Farrah Fawcett).

This hair was made for dancin’.

Something needed to be done.  At that point in time, I had more sense (and only one toddler and a 5-month-old), and left it to a professional.  We also didn’t know that Jack was anything but “rambunctious.”   He made it through that experience with the cutest cut ever, and I was convinced we’d use that hairdresser again and again and again.

Professional hair. It only looks easy.

I mean come on, wouldn’t you?  That’s a cute kid right there.

Of course we hadn’t taken him to a real salon, mind you.  We went to one of those “kiddie salon and play place” posh joints in Beverly Hills, where the stylist was actually from a real salon and just needed some extra cash or owed someone a large favor.  She was awesome.  She also quit soon after our visit, and the establishment stopped offering toddler haircuts.

So I did what any mom would do after losing her favorite stylist, I let the child’s hair grow.  And grow.  And grow. Until I finally decided on a whim one night that I could certainly remember what the haircut looked like (I have photos!!), and it just couldn’t be that hard to replicate.  I put Jack in his high chair in front of a movie, and commenced the “styling.”  Did I mention I do not, in fact, know how to cut hair?  I felt obligated to document the hatchet job.

Mama is not a professional hairdresser. Obviously.

That’s just the back.  The front was a mess of cowlicks and too-short spots.  I comforted myself with the knowledge that moms throughout the ages have achieved this level of ineptitude, and many children lived to tell the tale.

I once again vowed to leave the hairdressing to the professionals.  And once again, Jack’s hair grew.  A lot.  Like a whole lot.  I let it grow for a whole year.

Surfer dude.

I know, I know.  He looks awesome in those photos.  A rockin little surfer dude.  And if it looked like that all of the time, he’d always have that hair.  But that was fresh out of the bath, and within an hour it had once again achieved Farrah-ness.  What you also can’t see is the child has enough hair on his head to stuff several pillows and still be too big.  In a Los Angeles summer, that’s a hot head of hair.

At this point Jack was 3, and we knew all about his autism and his serious aversion to all things concerning his head.  I did my homework and found a kids’ salon in the Valley who specialized in dealing with sensory-sensitive children and made an appointment.  I made an appointment for Lennon, too, who would be getting his very first haircut.

Not. happy.

He was not amused.

The stylist took over an hour and a half to cut his hair, and did a servicable job.  They had videos, toys and trains, and she explained everything to him as she worked.  She showed him the scissors, used the buzzer on Daddy first (Jack still wouldn’t have any part of it), and let him play with the water spritzer.  But the salon is an hour from our home, and I wasn’t all that excited about the cut.  Lennon could go with his Daddy to the local SuperCuts and be just fine, and I decided, once again, that I could attack Jack’s mop on my own.

I was smart about it, at least.  I started by just trimming when it got unruly, bribing him with cookies for a snip here and there.  I cut it dry, and didn’t even bother with the spray bottle of water that invoked a screeching fit by its very presence.  As we both got more used to the idea, I got braver.  I let his hair grow longer, and cut more style into it.  I even started cutting Lennon’s hair.  I love his curls, and the SuperCuts folks always buzz his head.  I trim around the bottom and he looks like a cute little frat boy.  I give him ice cream or a popsicle, and he’s happy.

Jack always agrees to the haircut, after haggling for a proper bribe, then bails about halfway through the process.  He’s ok with me cutting the top and sides, but cannot stand when I get near the nape of his neck.  Coincidentally, that’s where the bulk of his hair is.  I end up having to beg him to come back to the chair, adding more treats to the bribe, and even then he rarely lets me finish in one sitting.  Quite often I’m snipping and shaping here and there for a week.

I know I’m saving money with Lennon’s hair, but I’m not sure about Jack’s.  I actually think I’m spending more on bribes than I would to drive the hour and pay someone to do it for me in one sitting.

Nowadays I take a perverse pride in the occasional chunk I cut out of Jack’s hair.  I know how hard won the right to get near him with scissors was.  And how many popsicles it took to do it.


What have you done to your child’s hair?  How do you get your ASD child’s hair done?

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