Sunday, September 13, 2009

Big boy haircut

I watched Jonas in wonder as he gracefully shoveled his cereal into his mouth and two thoughts came to mind. “Wow! I am amazed that he can handle silverware so well for his tender age. Good for him. He’s got more dexterity than his father!” The second thought was “Geez, this kid looks like a sheep dog. I can’t even see his eyes anymore. Time for a haircut!”

I’ve been cutting Jonas’ hair since his first snip, which was just prior to his first birthday. With every month it becomes more challenging. He furrows his brow and gives dirty looks to the scissors and then to me. He insists that HE holds the clippers, which turns into a tug of war. And each week his hair seems to grow faster and thicker, while his ability to sit still has waned dramatically! Not exactly a win-win situation. It’s such a battle to cut his unruly hair, and one, frankly, that I just don’t need to fight anymore.

So, off we went to this weekend to a place that specializes in kids’ hair cuts. It had come recommended. With all of its bells and whistles, I crossed my fingers that we would not only get through the experience, but that Jonas would even like it.

As we walked toward the door, I tried to get Jonas all excited about it, talking it up and using my best you’re gonna love this! voice. I swear he knew I was buttering him up. We took a seat in the waiting area.

Jonas was intrigued. I wouldn't say that he was dying to jump in a chair, but the dog movie that was playing on the big screen caught his attention, as did the number of kids who were there getting their hair cut.

Ok, so far, so good. I think this might just work. I have to admit, though, even I had butterflies.

The little boy who was one ahead of Jonas was summoned. The minute I spotted him, I knew: this was going to get ugly. My hopes were dashed.

The boy, who I'd guess was about three, had been wandering about the place, checking out the toys and big plastic cartoon characters. But when they sat him in the chair, all hell broke loose. No exaggeration. He had a total melt down--hysterical screaming, kicking, and wailing. Jonas' body tensed up and his eyes grew large. A look of great concern came over his face, as he watched spellbound, like the way you can't look away from a car wreck.

"Jonas? You're NEXT!" The receptionist announced cheerfully. He looked at us with trepidation. I led him to his station, hand in hand. Once secured in the chair, he wanted no part of the cape covered in fun characters that the stylist tried to put around his shoulders. He gestured "down" (baby sign), "down". He was absolutely terrified.

Meanwhile, five feet behind him poor Three Year Old Boy continued to scream frantically. I noticed that his parents had his head secured in the vice of their four hands! "Ok," I thought, "if it gets that bad, we're calling it a day and going home. Half-baked haircut or not."

Jonas' mouth turned down and his lower lip started to quiver. "Oh no, Jonas. Hang in there. It's going to be ok," I counseled. I saw the tears welling up in his eyes. Joe tried to blow bubbles to distract him, but the bubble water must have gone flat. He ended up spraying bubble water all over. Jonas was not amused.

As the stylist sheared the back of his head with the clippers, he held my hand tightly. The tears fell down his little face, although he never cried audibly. My heart started to break. I started to feel frantic.

I wished for quiet. The mother bear that resides in every mother started to wake up in me. "Please END IT!! Stop that kid's crying!" I wanted to scream. "If only it were quiet, Jonas would calm down," I rationalized. (For the record, I felt very bad for Three Year Old boy, but when the "mother bear" comes out, all she cares about is her offspring. It's a survivalist thing.)

Then, all of a sudden, as if someone flipped a switch, the plaintive cries from behind stopped. The stylist kept snipping, and we continued to reassure Jonas. He loosed his death grip on my hand. From that point on, I would say he tolerated the rest of the hair cut.

I saw a spark of interest when she took out the "Peanut" clippers, but it was only for a moment.

"All done!" chirped the stylist, a few minutes later. A wave of relief passed over me. Jonas eagerly jumped down, ready to get the hell of out Dodge.

Before leaving, he got to plug a little "card" into a machine that reminded me a bit of a juke box. It made sounds like a pin-ball machine and then it spit out a little slinky toy. Jonas' eyes lit up. He strode out of the store high as a kite, slinky in hand, tears long gone, and ready to take on the afternoon.

As for us, I think it was worth it. I'm trying not to think about the 7 minutes of terror and 3 of tolerance, and focusing instead on the positives. We won't need a haircut for at least a month. No one got hurt. There was no fighting over scissors or clippers. And, maybe, just maybe, it'll be easier next time.

Proof positive that Jonas wasn't too traumatized by the experience. This is a half an hour afterward.

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