My younger son (ten years old) has agreed to get a haircut. A real haircut. By someone other than Mom. While most kids hit the barber or salon well before their child’s second decade, this cut will be the first outside our home.
Why now? His hair is hitting his shoulders, and he wants it longer. That’s fine. I pick my battles, and hair length, schoolwork in pyjamas, and brown rice everyday for lunch aren’t grounds for fighting. As long as he keeps it clean (no problem) and brushed (a bit more hazardous ground), I’m fine with his blond tresses cascading down his back. But I don’t know how to cut this thick, long stuff. I was fine when it was just below his ears, but somehow this long stuff seems to go everywhere under my scissors. I end up hacking away, taking far more than he wants taken, and still leaving his head looking like he just removed it from a blender. Thus the need for professional intervention.
He’s a bit nervous. I’ve reassured him that, since she’s in our hire, she’ll follow his directions. For months (years?) he objected out of fear that any hair care professional would just take the whole of his hair off, leaving only an inch or so to protect him from the world. He wants long hair for a few reasons: he likes to feel it swish around him when he shakes his head, and he likes to hide behind it. Plus, it’s just comfortable. I agree on in part — I don’t hide behind mine, but I do like that swish.
So in few hours, we’ll head down the street to a local salon to see my stylist. She’s been informed about his anxiety and sensory issues, and she seems quite sensitive to his concerns. He’s cautiously optimistic, although I’d not be surprised if his courage waned as we approach the cutting hour. We’ll see how it goes.
That was uneventful. My younger approached the chair with his usual nonchalance. He cooperated fully, from the water spritzing to the end-of-cut dust-off. His hair is still long and shaggy, but just not quite so shaggy. It’s easier to brush, which pleases him, since I insist on that daily ablution. His facial tic of the season was in full force: a wide, open mouth not unlike what a very large sandwich would require. It’s been around for the past week or so, whether stressed at the moment or not, so it’s not much of an indicator of his internal milieu. He took the trip in stride, and he’s willing to do it again.
And So What?
So why is a non-story worth a blog post? Because a year and a half ago, this visit never would have been possible. I’d only hesitantly suggested the expedition within the last six months, only to be shot down immediately for the first five. Just giving him a hair cut at home was traumatic for the whole house until the past few years. I managed with a video to distract him and a snack, both items that complicate the process almost as much as help it. (Hint: A snack in a baggie helps to keep the hair out of the food.) Asking a child to look down so you can properly assess the length in the back is just more torturous if it means you miss a moment of the Vandals, the Franks, or Saxons raiding or pillaging some unsuspecting village.
Sometimes it takes a non event like a haircut to remind me of the gains he’s made in the last year. It’s like watching your kids grow: when you see them all the time, the growth is only apparent when they need a new pair of shoes or pants. When we’re so close, we must measure our children’s growth by what they’ve cast aside and what new they put on. The same holds for emotional growth. Day-to-day nearly constant contact makes it hard to see that serious change has occurred. It often takes being with a family member or friend who sees my children less often to point out what has been so close I couldn’t see it — attainment of skills that just weren’t there at the last visit.
Over the last six months to a year, we’ve done many things I couldn’t previously imagine happily doing with my Aspie son. We’ve been to late and loud parties, summer camp as a family, and the opera. We’ve hosted parties for more than a single other family without meltdowns. And now, he’s had a haircut outside of the home. That’s a big deal for him. That’s worth a non-story blog post.