Have you ever found yourself seated on a kitchen chair draped in one of your mother’s tablecloths while one or the other of your parents circled you with a pair of scissors and a frown of concentration on their faces? That’s what getting a haircut meant in our house. My Dad would trim away, stand back for a critical examination and reach out to trim some more. My hair had some curl in it so getting the bangs straight was challenging. Just when he thought he’d managed it he would spot a few strands longer than the rest and take another snip. That’s how I often ended up with ragged inch long stubble sticking out in every direction instead of the bangs I was hoping for.
You would think I might have learned something from my childhood experiences and opted to let the professionals handle haircuts for my own children but I was convinced I could do better than my Dad. Consequently, all three of my children have had their chance to sit on that kitchen chair. For the most part I did do better. I bought a set of electric clippers that came with a video and several attachments that insured a uniform cut at the length of your choice. What could be simpler? My daughter’s hair would still have to be cut with scissors but the men of the house could all get clipped. It would be virtually impossible to mess up. I couldn’t have been more mistaken.
There came a Saturday when the boys were beginning to look quite shaggy so “Mom’s Barber Shop” was declared open. By then I had already accomplished several successful haircuts using the new clippers and I was feeling quite confident. Jason, who was in Grade 7 at the time, was perched on the chair with his feet drawn up under the tablecloth I had pinned around his neck. His younger sister, Lauren, was watching the proceedings with considerable interest. Jason flinched when the clippers caught his hair and complained that it was pulling. I assured him that I could easily fix the problem. A bit of oil was probably all that was needed so I removed the attachment and carefully dribbled a few drops onto the exposed blades. I let it run for a moment to make sure everything was well lubricated before proceeding with the haircut from the spot where I’d left off, taking one long swipe up the back of Jason’s bowed head.
I realized too late that I had forgotten to replace the attachment on the clippers. I turned them off and gazed in horrified fascination at the long naked stripe running up the back of my son’s dark head. Lauren sucked in her breath and clapped a hand over her mouth. Jason wasn’t sure what the problem was but he could see his sister’s face and that was enough for him. He jumped up and headed to the nearest mirror with me only steps behind him. One look and he took off for his bedroom where he could hide his misery behind a closed door. He swore he was never coming out. We both cried as I begged his forgiveness and tried to come up with some solution. A hat couldn’t begin to cover it.
It was my husband, Bev, who finally saved the day. Jason had a set of pastels in his art box and Bev found one that was the exact shade of brown to match his hair. He simply colored in the exposed scalp thereby effectively disguising it. He then proposed to Jason that we attend church as usual the next day to find out if anyone noticed anything strange about his haircut. Jason was a bit nervous but his confidence grew as it became obvious that no one could tell there was a problem. That settled it. Every morning for the two weeks it took for his own hair to fill in the gap Bev would use the crayon to touch up the color on the back of Jason’s head disguising the stripe that my mistake had put there. No one at school ever noticed a thing. He did forgive me but he never let me cut his hair again. Neither did Bev. The clippers were relegated to a back corner of the bathroom cupboard where they have been gathering dust for years.
I did get to cut my Dad’s hair a time or two during my brief career as a home hairstylist. It was an odd feeling to have our roles reversed. They say that what goes around comes around but I hope that doesn’t always hold true. I hate to imagine myself seated in the dreaded chair one day at the mercy of Jason and a pair of scissors.