Me: “Thank you.”
Grey Hair: “How old is she?”
Me: “HE is 18 months old.”
Grey Hair: “She’s just precious. She must keep you busy with her busy hands.”
Me: “Yes HE does. HE keeps us busy with HIS busy hands. HIS MANLY hands.”
Grey Hair: “I only had three grandbaby boys, I never got my granddaughter. You are so blessed.”
Me: “PENIS, PENIS, PENIS!!! HE has a WEEWEE.”
Grey Hair: “She’s just beautiful.”
Me: [Sigh] “Thank you.”
I’m not sure what went wrong, but somewhere between the black/white checkered Vans and the Search + Rescue Fire truck shirt, Estelle Getty’s twin sister deduced that our son was a girl. And while her misassumption might have been the result of her age and/or Coke bottle glasses, I still don’t feel bad about throwing that box of Trojan Magnum condoms into her shopping cart after she insulted my son's boyulinity.
So yes, Tenzin is now 18 months-old. For those of you unacquainted with the year-and-a-half milestone, it’s that banner time period when we, as parents, lose our minds and fly off the cuff, making rash decisions without thinking them through. Case in point: Tenzin’s first haircut.
Now, while I’d like to admit that the decision to get his hair cut was a spontaneous result of the Grey Hair in the check-out line (in addition to numerous other comparable experiences with inept gender judgers), it was, in fact, just a giddy eagerness on our part to see what happens next in the wild world of parenting. That was it. Seriously. Tenzin is at that age, his hair was getting long, and we've talked about it (see: put it off) for quite a while; the last month or so, in fact! So why not now, right? Looking back, it was almost like a game of parental chicken between Rachel and I, each at the last minute threatening not to swerve. Inevitably, one of us would get out of the way and we would be rewarded with another week of hippie hair.
Well, it’s two days after-the-fact and as I sit at my computer screen uploading the latest barber shop pics, I can’t help but want to shop for baby wigs. I miss our little guy’s locks.
We headed down the street to Longview Barber Shop, the oldest established business in Clintonville. Longview has been cuttin' do's for eighty-nine years, and even boasts an 86 year-old customer that’s been coming to LBS his entire life! So while ownership of the shop might have changed hands on more than one occasion, I couldn’t help but think that if the shop was good enough for eight decades of trims for one man, it’s good enough for my son.
We took the long route, walking down to the furthest crosswalk away from the shop in order to postpone the inevitable. Upon arrival, Rachel even walked by the front door “on accident.” I almost let her go, but with a quick turn of the stroller we were in. No turning back. Little man had no idea what he was in for, and neither did we.
All three barbers were standing by their chairs, it was apparently a slow day. I had scoped out the shop on my last cut and was fairly surprised at how young they all were; all about early to mid-thirties talking about various athletes and their stats, one of man stereotypically hunched over a newspaper nodding in (dis)agreement. The usual. Barber paraphernalia sat in blue liquids just below the local high school football jerseys pinned high on the walls, showing no school-specific favoritism, but showing support nonetheless. And my favorite, a picture frame tucked away near the window, an old diagram showing which of the eight hair cuts you had to choose from (I wanted the Flat Top with Fenders, but Rachel said no).
During my cut I poked and prodded about first-cut experiences to feel them out, and was quite surprised about their approach towards kids. I expected stories of mayhem and destruction, but Dave, the owner, had one simple rule: “I don’t cut their hair if they continue to reach for their heads. These are barber shears, not Great Clips scissors.” He continued with stories of squirmers and gigglers, but had the same approach as you’d expect out of any pediatrician. Kids will be kids and each one is different. It made me comfortable and you could easily tell that this was somebody that really took pride in their profession.
The moment was upon us...
See for yourself. It’s not really easy to explain. It’s not happy, it’s not sad. There are some tinges of angry, some confusion, some shyness and some excitement. If you could mush all those up in to a big apprehensive ball, you’d get this:
Doesn't he look happy?
The end result? A proper bowl cut: the wussy parents way of acknowledging the fact that their child is getting older, without going to extremes. It's the anti-haircut haircut.
Now before I get any angry emails from grandmothers (I can think of two of you who are already probably flooding my inbox), let me say this - I was wrong. In fact, not only was I wrong, but Rachel was wrong. Our child now looks three years older (albeit the same big ball of adorable as usual), he is powerless without his lion's mane and curls, and what's worse, he left a blue stain from the barber shop to our house.
Buyer's remorse, indeed.
As a result, and for the sake of never making the same mistake again, I would like to invite you all to Tenzin's next haircut. If you need a ride, I'll have our robot maid pick you up in our flying car and transport you to, yes, Longview Barbershop, as they celebrate their 105th year in business. While I, myself, will continue to frequent them for their excellent reputation and splendid customer service, our son will be taking a timeout from such grooming activities. In fact, I'm even teaching him how to unwalk. And uncrawl. And untalk.
Here's the video of our child's tragic transition into toddlerdom. I suggest you bring a tissue:
Thanks, Dave. Seriously. If anybody is considering a child's first haircut, the barber shop is the way to go.