There are three things on this Earth my 2-year-old son will sit still for: SpongeBob SquarePants (what is it with that yellow bedlamite?), raisins (shhh … he still thinks they are candy) and, well … OK, so there are two things.
Giving him a bath has been like Ali-Frazier since he was a year old, especially when it comes to washing his hair.
So when it was finally time for his first haircut on his birthday last week, I knew it was going to be torture – for us both.
Maybe that’s subconsciously why my wife and I waited that long to have his hair cut, because we knew he wouldn’t go down without a fight. Two years old seemed like a good age, anyway. When I asked around, that number seemed to come up most often, for reasons based on everything including myth and math.
One of my cousins swears that if you cut a child’s hair before the age of 2, his hair will lose its curl permanently. Hmph.
For me the tipping point was the fact that my little man’s hair was long enough that it was constantly in his eyes – that and the fact that people kept confusing him for a girl when my wife would put his hair in a ponytail before she took him to the park.
I can’t be havin’ that. It was time for action, as corny as it sounds, a rite of passage – for my son and me.
So I took my little man to the place where I got my first haircut, Larry’s Afro Barbering & Styling Shop in the East Central neighborhood (we even visited the shop a couple of days in advance, just to hang out and get him acquainted with the place).
On the day of reckoning, when it came time for my son’s turn to take a ride in the chair, shop owner Larry Roseman was as confident and calm as I was fearful.
And as soon as I put my little man on my lap, “Ding!” It was on.
Roseman maintained cool, snipping away. In the meantime, my kid was having a total meltdown and I was having a nervous breakdown. He wiggled and writhed about, crying endlessly, and all I could do was restrain him and try to console him. Neither was working (I’m convinced this kid could escape from one of Houdini’s traps with minimal effort).
The way my little guy carried on, I was sure that at any moment the police at the COPS shop next door were going to put me in jail for child abuse.
“Oh, he’s gonna holler. You don’t have to worry about that. But we’ll get it done,” Roseman assured me.
My grandmother was there, too, to lend moral support.
“Grandma’s baby going to be all right,” she soothed. (When I thought about it later, I realized she was probably talking about my son and not me.)
His conniption gradually was getting worse, and I just wanted the whole thing to be over with.
“He’ll sleep good tonight,” Roseman said.
“We both will,” I sighed.
Roseman’s co-pilot, and my cousin, Quentin Canton, who also cuts hair at the shop, just laughed.
Roseman promised me each repeat visit to the shop would be better than the last.
“You see when he comes back in a couple of months, he’ll be used to it, so he’ll be still,” he said.
Yeah, right. He doesn’t know my son very well.