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January 31, 2008

The First Hair Cut-- Do Not Try This At Home--

J0427756_2 I cut our son’s hair yesterday.  He’s 22 months old and it was his first cut. It was also the last time I'll ever do this myself again.

The Bear, as we sometimes call him, had been bald for a long time.  So when his hair did finally start to grow, I just let it do its thing.  It snaked around his ears and curled at the base of his neck.  It was blond, and fine, and smelled good when it wasn’t coated with applesauce and yogurt.   

Little boys with long hair are all the rage these days.  From the back, these Buster Browns look like girls. To further complicate matters, the clothes, and sometimes the first names, are gender-neutral.  On a few occasions, I’ve even made the mistake of saying "she" instead of "he." Fortunately, I now use grammar to conceal my confusion-- "How old is your kiddo?"  "Do you guys like this playground?"  It's fairly easy to work around. 

Apart from the coolness factor of long hair, I get it.  These boys are cute.  And as a mom of two sons, I do long for long locks. I like barrettes and braids and ponytails.  But you can’t quite put a scrunchy in your son’s hair, so there does come a point when it’s time to act. 

Take our elder son.  When he was 14 months old, and walking with his head tilted up so he could see under his bangs, we got his first cut. At Cozy's Cuts for Kids (be prepared for music if you click on this link) he sat in a car-shaped chair and watched a video.  There were balloons and toys and stickers.  But nothing could assuage the crying.  He writhed in fear and I was convinced the stylist would inadvertently stab him with the scissors.  I, too, had tears streaming down my cheeks.  We eventually switched to Kidville, which boasted an airplane seat and a more mellow environment.  But it still wasn't easy.  We go only when truly necessary.   

And so, I was determined to avoid the same scene with our younger son.  I delayed and delayed his first cut.  "He can still see," I would say. "In Judaism," I would sometimes add, "we don't cut a boy's hair until he is a year old."  Turns out...I was actually wrong on that count.  Orthodox Jews do the first haircut at age three, and the upsherin, as its called, is an important milestone in a young boy's life.  It symbolizes the beginning of the child's separation from his mother and transition into the world. He can even begin to study Torah.

Despite all of this, I had an impulsive moment yesterday.  The Bear had a preschool interview, and as I was getting him dressed, I realized he really couldn't see all that well.  Fine wisps of hair kept falling into his eyes.  Sure, I could wet it, and brush it to the side to make a nice swoop across his forehead.  But this required constant maintenance, and I was NOT going to hover over him during the half hour "play date."  And so, with minutes to spare before we had to leave the house, I sat him on the bathroom counter, gathered his bangs into a clump and did a big snip.  (Fortunately, a babysitter was here to hold him still).  I chose rather dull scissors and even managed to collect the lock in a plastic baggy.

But the result was not pretty.  His hair was crooked and too short. I did what I could to fix it.  But given my lack of success with the bangs, I left the rest of his hair long.  It's a unique look, this off-kilter cut.  Sort of a cross between a monk and an aging British rock star.

Bottom line, there's a reason I never tried to cut our older son's hair.  There's a reason I pay someone to color my own hair and hide the gray.  Certain things are best left to the professionals.  So this weekend, you can guess what we're doing.  "Excuse me, Kidville, do you have an appointment, Saturday morning, at 10:00? I've got a little kid who needs his first real haircut."

Andi also blogs at Mama Knows Breast.


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