It was just a few days into the new year when I decided I couldn’t stand to look at my three youngest sons one minute longer. Why this motherly aversion, you ask? Had they done something terribly bad or annoying?
No. The problem was with the state of their hair, which hadn’t been cut in well over a month and was looking downright atrocious. It hurt my eyeballs just to look at them. I am the main barber around here, and getting through three little boys’ haircuts is quite the ordeal; sometimes I’m just not up to the task.
A few weeks will go by since their last haircut, and I’ll push their next cut off a couple days. And then a few more. And then a week. Eventually, I’ll happen to look across the dinner table at one of them and realize I’m staring directly at the 12-year-old version of Chewbacca.
“This Saturday, we’re doing haircuts for sure!” I’ll proclaim, already steeling myself for the whining, the jammed set of clippers, the mess and the iffy outcome. It’s not a process any of us enjoys.
That’s why, a couple weeks before Christmas, I was surprised – and also not surprised – to see that Hyrum had indicated on his Christmas wish list that he would like “a gift card to a haircut place.” What 6-year-old wishes for something like that unless his coiffure situation is particularly dire?
Santa Claus really delivered this year, and although he didn’t get my boys their No. 1 heart’s desire of a virtual-reality headset, he did come through with a coupon stuffed in each of their stockings for a haircut at a cool barber shop.
Imagine the fun they had clutching those coupons in their hands on Christmas morning instead of playing with a new headset! The gratitude was palpable. Thanks, Santa Claus! Regardless of whether anyone but Hyrum and I were excited at the prospect of professional haircuts, I decided that last Saturday was the day.
I took Henry, Emmett and Hyrum to Legacy Barbershop in Millwood, where my stepsister’s friend Carlos Chandia gives the coolest haircuts around. You’d think my boys had just landed on the face of the moon walking into a bona fide barber shop where cool guys were wielding clippers and grown men were getting high fades and beard treatments.
Carlos welcomed us warmly and didn’t make me feel stupid for bringing in three boys whose hair looked like it had been last cut by a boat propeller. He worked on each of their tangled mops with precision, even patiently explaining to me his technique so I could try to replicate it at home in the event I ever get up the gumption to cut their hair again.
Turns out I’ve been doing pretty much everything wrong, but Carlos didn’t make me feel bad about any of that. Hyrum went first, since this was his Christmas wish in the first place. Knowing that he’d once admired a cousin who showed up to a family dinner with a lightning bolt shaved into the back of his head, I asked Hyrum if he’d like to try something similar.
As this was a rare occasion where a competent professional wielded the clippers instead of his mom. “Sure,” he said shyly, and Carlos wasted no time cutting a decidedly cool lightning bolt into the side of Hyrum’s new ’do. You’ve never seen a kid smile as big as Hyrum did when Carlos held up a mirror for him to check it out when the haircut was all done.
Emmett and Henry opted for more conventional cuts (aka no lightning bolts), but theirs turned out every bit as awesome as Hyrum’s with no unblended lines, no uneven hair sticking out and no spots where their mom obviously forgot to put on the longer clipper guard.
“They’re so much easier to love when their hair is freshly cut,” I sighed to Logan later that night as we watched the boys getting up to their usual shenanigans, but at least not looking like wooly mammoths while doing it.
I dread the day three weeks from now when the lightning bolt starts to grow out and the need for a fresh haircut starts looming. Now that my boys have experienced the quality of an actual barber, my hurried and substandard laundry room haircuts aren’t going to cut it anymore. Better keep Carlos on speed dial.
Julia Ditto shares her life with her husband, six children and a random menagerie of farm animals in Spokane Valley. She can be reached at firstname.lastname@example.org.
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