Nothing quite compares to that moment when my haircut is just complete and my classic 2-3-4-5 clipper guard smooth fade has achieved that unparalleled state of perfection. There I am, standing in front of my bathroom mirror, electric clippers in hand, tiny pieces of hair sticking to my shoulders, tufts of curly hair littering the bathroom floor, and I’m like, “Andrew, you did it again. Nailed it.”
A fresh haircut gets me so pumped.
And, as it turns out, when my kids get haircuts, I get equally pumped.
We finally took our 20-month-old to get his first haircut last week. I’ll be honest, it was long overdue. His brother had his first haircut on his first birthday, which when you look at it in a vacuum, seems like a more reasonable time-frame. But, a funny thing happened with Bennett, the 20-month-old, that threw a wrench into the haircut game plan: he grew curls. And let me tell you, these weren’t just every day curved pieces of coyote brown hair. No, these little ringlets swooshing over his ears and cascading down his neck were like catnip for female humans. When we were out anywhere, without fail, ladies aged 17 to 77 fawned over the circular formation of protein strands adorning Bennett’s head. (I always handled these interactions well, of course. You guessed it, I went with the awkward smile.)
And yes, Mommy was not immune from the rounded keratin fever. She was late to succumb, but when the fever hits, it hits hard. So, needless to say, we held out as long as we could. Much like our grass, the hair continued to grow. It didn’t quite reach the point that a lawnmower could get lost in it, but we did lose a few small household utensils.
The breaking point finally came when random people started asking our four-year-old about his sister. Don’t get me wrong, we don’t care about the whole gender definition thing, but trying to explain to the four-year-old what the people were talking about got really exhausting. He kept wanting to know where his sister was.
Anyway, because our hand was forced, we did what every self-respecting parent living in the greater central Florida area with a credit card with a sufficiently high limit does: we made the trip to Disney for the true first haircut experience. Yes, I agree, going to Disney World for a haircut does seem a little extreme, but we did it for our first kid, so we had to be fair. You know how toddlers are, they look for any opportunity to lord a perceived slight over you.
The nice thing about Disney is that it can sometimes exist outside of time. We walked back into the crowded barber shop on Main Street and everything was pretty much as we had left it three years before. Even Barb was still there clipping away in her corner chair. In my mind she lives in a comfortable flat just above the shop and likes to sit on her balcony with a glass of chardonnay while watching the fireworks every night.
And Barb’s haircut game had not changed one bit either. She had us position Bennett on the booster cushion in the chair (no seat belt or restraint necessary because Barb likes to fly by the seat of her pants) and she covered him with Mickey Mouse stickers. Then she whipped out two hand-held toys: a whirly thing with lights and another whirly thing with lights. After that, it was all business. Barb is a pro. She snipped and sprayed and combed. Meanwhile, her charge was busy fiddling with the stickers all over his shirt and glancing occasionally at the whirly things.
In a matter of minutes, it was done. Barb showed us how to use the stickers to mop up the tiny pieces of hair on Bennett’s shirt (Barb = ingenious) and then she presented him with his mouse ears.
She shuffled a few locks of fallen hair into a little pocket, filled out a first haircut certificate, placed everything in a Disney bag, and left us with her signature advise that I still remembered from last time, “Remember, before you throw away the bag make sure you get the hair out. Because, I can replace everything else, but not the hair.” Classic Barb.
Oh man, was I pumped.
As we walked out, the world just seemed a little brighter. Perhaps it was the relief of having it over with. Anytime your kid has to do something that could result in public humiliation if he’s in the wrong mood, and he gets through it without disaster, the elation quickly kicks in. Or perhaps it was just how awesome the haircut looked. It was all like neat and short with just a little kick of curly pizzazz. Classic Barb style. Or perhaps it was the parade that passed by right when we came out. Whatever it was, I was pumped.
Needless to say, I went a little wild with the Instagram and Facebook posts. First haircuts are like social media gold. I just tossed those pictures out there all casual like, “Oh yeah, no big deal, my kid just got his hair sheared at freaking Disney World. You know, whatever.” Then I just sat back, on the monorail, with borrowed first haircut mouse ears on my head, and waited for the likes and comments to roll in.