Officially Retired From Cutting Hair

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Originally posted August 2008

Like most big families, we have found ways to cut corners and make the finances work. We buy groceries at Aldi and Sam’s and we have a side of beef and a whole pig in our freezer (compliments of my dad). The boys all share clothes, shoes, bikes, roller blades, video games, and no one gets a new backpack or winter coat for school unless the zipper breaks.

I like to think that these type ofsacrifices build character in my boys. I remember drinking powdered milk that my mother would make in a huge Tupperware pitcher. It was horrible! I shared a room with my sister and all three of us kids worked various jobs from the age of 12 (old enough for corndetasseling – which is basically taking young kids and turning them out into rows of corn that went on for miles and using them like human machinery to pull the tassels off the corn). Now that was character building!

One way that we have saved money as a family is by me cutting the boys hair. While this has saved us some cash, it has not been without a price. My oldest two boys were given a choice, either let mom cut it for free or you can pay for your own haircut where ever you want. They let me continue to cut it until they really cared about how they looked. My oldest has really thick, coarse, curly red hair and I pretty much couldn’t screw it up.

There was one time when I thought I was done with his hair and he took a shower and then I looked at his head and saw this line going from one ear to the other. It was so bad. I think the phone rang half way through his cut or something, because there was surely a problem.

Our second son, Luke, gave up on me because for some reason, I always had trouble with his bangs. I only have one hairstyle in my repertoire – short, really short, Buzz cut preferred! Luke liked his hair a little longer and I just couldn’t handle it. After more than one botch job, Luke has taken his “business” elsewhere. Now, he happily goes to my hair-stylist (a professional).

Well, I have just recently crossed the line of no return as I threw out my clippers, (they were rusty anyway and pulled the skin into the pinchers), the scissors, the combs, the guards – EVERYTHING GONE!

My son Joel (11 and going into Junior High in two days), begged me to “trim” his hair which had grown for several months to a very “Jonas Brothers” looking “I’m So Cool” length. Joel liked to whip his head quickly to the side in a smooth gesture to get his bangs out of his face. It was his trademark. I don’t mind the longer hair. I do have a line – NO MOHAWKS, permanent color, etc… But the longer hair is fine.

The other boys (especially the older two) loved to tease Joel and call him a girl because of his long hair. It didn’t phase him. He would roll his eyes at them and say, “You’re just jealous.”

So, with two days until school starts, I decided to sit Joel down and trim it. I started out okay, but something strange happened and it was like I couldn’t stop it until it was too late. Joel wanted the bangs a little shorter and I even said, “Let’s take off just a little at a time because we can always cut more, but we can’t put it back once it’s cut.”

I was using scissors and a comb and 10 minutes into it, I was feeling myself sink further and further in the “hole” as Joel’s head began to shrink into his neck. He held his body still and watched the long blond locks fall like the seeds off of cotton weed on a windy day. He glanced up at me and said, “Mom, NOT TOO SHORT.”

I told him I was doing my best and that I wasn’t a professional. I was trying to get the sides even and every time I would cut one side, the other would look shorter. Then I would cut more off of that side and the other one would look shorter still. It was madness!

I finally stopped before the kid was completely bald and Joel took one look and the tears came. I felt terrible! Here is my young boy, about to enter the “junior high jungle of blood sucking bullies” and I have just made him look like the biggest dork on the block! Somebody shoot me!

I told Joel to go take a shower and maybe it will look better when he gets out. It didn’t. He put on a sweatshirt and put the hood up and said that he wouldn’t be attending school this semester. I could home school him untilChristmas was over and then he could go back.

I felt worse. I did what I never thought I would – I asked him if $20 bucks would make him feel better. He has been saving every penny doing odd jobs for an XBox 360 ($300). I thought that a $20 boost might help him forget about his botched haircut.

His deep blue eyes were barely recognizable they were so bloodshot. He looked at me and nodded that the $20 would help. He stopped crying for a moment and said, “Mom, if I need surgery someday, are you going to try and save money and do that yourself too?”

Of course not, Joel, I said as I offered him another $20. Ugh!

The next day, I was able to get him in to my hair stylist and she (a wonderful mom of three grown children) really helped sooth the pain of his short hair. She told him that she was going to just straighten it out so that as it grows out, it will all come in even and look nice – like the Jonas Brothers, she said.

That was all Joel needed (my $40 bucks didn’t hurt either) to help him have the strength to face the world of Junior High even with a Bill Gates haircut!

Yes, I really did throw out all my supplies and my two youngest boys will be spared the humiliation of mom cutting their hair at those oh so tender ages!

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