One of life’s little pleasures, along with seeing that piece of Lego on the floor moments before I step there, and getting the kids to bed on time without any of us raising our voices or flouncing off in a strop, is getting my hair cut.
I used to like it, pre-kids. But now, I really, really like it. All that time, just sitting there, with a coffee. Relaxing. Having a chat that is not interrupted by pleas for raisins, or someone under four foot insisting that they sit on my lap. Okay, it’s not perfect. I keep catching sight of my enormous eye bags in my peripheral vision when I put my coffee down in front of me, but it’s a small price to pay. All that time, without the children. On my last visit, my hairdresser asked me how I wanted my hair cut. “Very, very, slowly,” was my reply.
So I find it utterly unbelievable that my two year old does not share my delight. This weekend I took him for a trim. His hair was not super long, but I have a bit of a thing about boys with long hair. I don’t know why. I don’t have the same issue with grown men that have long hair, but my boys’ hair has to be short. Properly, round the ears, too-short-for-bed-hair short. But this trip to the hairdressers was probably the most stressful outing we have made in a while – well, since The Great Testicle Adventure, at least. It did not start well, with a point blank refusal to sit in the chair on his own, magic booster seat or no magic booster seat. Okay, there was nothing that magic about the booster, but I really did not want him on my lap.
So there he was, on my lap. I had the rare foresight to ask to wear a gown, having learned from my last visit that whilst the prickle of freshly cut hair in my undergarments is highly annoying, when it’s not even your own hair it is enough to make me want to claw my own eyeballs out. Obviously, B would not countenance a gown. Not even a magic gown (you’d think I’d have learned my bloody lesson with the whole magic schtick, but I’m a trier, me).
B is looking decidedly grumpy and is already trying to wriggle free, but the hairdresser is no fool. Before proceedings commence, a tub of lollies is produced and one is placed in my son’s hand, with a promise that it will be unwrapped once the haircut is finished. The moment those scissors appear, however, B attempts to bury his way into my ribcage using the blunt instrument that is his head. I try to talk him into complying, which is about as effective as trying to get a rabid ferret to sit still by asking him politely in my best telephone voice.
Given that is it not looking likely B will sit up straight, the hairdresser starts to tackle the bit of his head that is exposed. I am holding my son in a mild death grip, and what with being shrouded in a neck-to-knee cape that has the insulating properties of a Thermos flask, alongside the effort of keeping him from slithering off my be-caped lap, whilst smiling and pretending that this is not bothering me in the slightest, I am perspiring slightly. (This may be an understatement). The hairdresser is moving at lightning speed. I would like to think that this is because he wants to minimise the stress that my son is experiencing, but is much more likely to be in order that he can get this whimpering, annoying child out of his shop as soon a humanly possible. With which I concur wholeheartedly.
I am slightly concerned about the proximity of the scissors to myself. I mean, I want my son to have neat, short hair, but not at the expense of my left nipple, so I try to lean away from him. He then leans further into me, the hairdresser leans further over us and there is a moment when it looks like the hairdresser’s tie is for the chop. It is all going quite badly, until B spots a small clump of cut hair on his arm. I will just repeat that in case the utterly terrifying nature of that last sentence momentarily escaped you. There is a small clump of hair on his arm. A wail fills the salon as he stares, terrified. I can imagine at this point that all the other people enjoying the luxury of some time away from kids, family and the stress of their lives are thrilled that a screaming child is sitting within five foot of them. I know I am.
This torture continues for another ten minutes. The hairdresser is forced to invent a method of haircutting by which he cuts with one hand, and catches the falling hair with the other within three nano-seconds, in order to avoid another outbreak of wailing. B alternates between crying, flailing and hiding. At some point, we renege on the deal of opening the lolly at completion, just on the off chance it will help. It doesn’t. As predicted, we now have an inconsolable child who finds himself licking a hairy lolly and is now scratching at his own tongue in panic. And I just really, really, want to go home.
Finally, with haircut finished, B instantly cheers up. As he walks to the door, both the hairdresser and I notice a tuft of hair, sticking up on the top of his head, that had escaped the cut. I lick my finger and press the recalcitrant hair onto his scalp. It pings back. I press a bit harder, until my son shouts ‘ow’ and runs away, dropping his lolly in the process. Usually, like the King’s Taster, I lick a dropped lolly to remove at least the first layer of germs and grit that it has collected on its ignominious floor roll. But he has been a pain in the arse, and a noisy one at that, and I am still sweating from the whole debacle. So, on behalf of all the people sitting in the salon who have endured my son’s haircut, I hand the hairy, gritty lolly back to him unlicked. it barely constitutes a victory, but I will take them where I can get them these days. I take off my magic cape with a victory flourish and off I go, tufty boy by my side.