If it weren’t for a superwoman named Lucie I don’t think I’d ever get Calvin’s hair cut—I'd just tie it back into a ponytail or something and call it a day. It’s an exhausting, frustrating experience that I dread, thus I don’t do it nearly often enough and he ends up with a thick, unruly mass like a hairy helmet or some rabid animal clinging to his head.

When I was Calvin’s age my mother used to cut my hair. She’d grab a roll of Scotch tape and plaster a piece across my bangs, then try to cut along the bottom edge with a pair of loose, dull scissors. She might have been successful if she’d stuck the tape on straight in the first place, but that never happened so she’d end up correcting the error, then re-correcting, and so on until I had bangs that—if they were any shorter—would spray straight out like some punk rock star.

My brothers all got goofy buzz cuts as youths at the hand of my father. I guess it was too expensive to bring four boys to a barber. Dad even colored my mom’s hair—donned stained rubber gloves, squirted a bottle of thick die into her frizzy permed curls then foamed it into her skull. Once it came out the hue of an eggplant or a plum and with that colorful, patchwork blouse she liked to wear she kind of resembled a clown.

By the age of eleven I’d grown my hair out long. It was uber-thin and straight, not quite touching my elbows, and had a kind of shiny green cast with blond tips from sun and too much chlorine—felt like snot when it was wet. My siblings described it as stringy and my father kept on my case to brush it, but I loved it—messy, down, braided or tied back. One day, when I was about twelve, my sister got bored and convinced me to let her cut it all off. When no one was around I cried. After that I cried practically every time I got my hair cut until finally I let it grow long again in my early thirties.

Yesterday, I was a blubbering mess again, though not because I got my hair cut, but because I had to take Calvin to get his chopped. We both put on aprons and he sat in my lap while I restrained his flailing arms, pinned his kicking legs between mine and held his chin in place. It’s never a pretty sight, but Lucy is a pro—knows how to handle kids like Calvin who squirm and whine and spin their heads.

Equally as frustrating as the cut, is simply trying to pay for it. Calvin leans into me and cranes his neck any way possible to stare at the low sun shining in through the windows while I clumsily attempt to get my wallet out, at the same time keeping him from falling off balance and bonking his head on something. He won’t stand up when I try to put on his glasses, kerchief and coat, even though he’s able. He flops like a noodle in my arms. I wish I were an octopus on steroids when he gets like this. I definitely need at least one extra pair of hands. Lucie knows this and brings me the receipt and a book to sign it on then kindly offers me a home visit next time. I thank her profusely and manage to make my way to the door yanking on Calvin’s arm to keep him erect and walking. Once outside he’s fine, but I’m close-to-tears-fed-up-with-all-this-crap-I-must-endure-from-this-impossible-kid-and-it’s-only-a-frigging-haircut.

haircut 2010

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