Today we went to cut my son Lucas’ hair for the first time in a year. He’s been sporting long, shiny locks that garner compliments from everyone from family members to waitresses (along with the occasional “soooo when are you gonna cut his hair???”)
It was Lucas’ decision to keep it long. For the last six months, every time I’ve said, “Okay buddy, let’s go get your hair cut!” he said he didn’t want to. He likes it long. But after swimming in the pool this weekend and having to push his hair out of eyes every time he came up for air (approximately one trillion times), Lucas decided he wanted a trim – just enough off so that he could see when he came up out of the water for a breath. The priorities of an eight-year-old boy.
Then today when we got to the hair-cutting place he saw a picture of a Mohawk and decided he didn’t want “just a trim” anymore. He wanted the Mohawk. Fine, kid, let’s go for the Mohawk.
|Before it all came off…|
From the moment the hair-cutter dude called Lucas up, I could see he was going to be an asshole. He was curt with all his words to Lucas (“YOU HAVE TO SIT STILL.”) and when I told him we wanted a Mohawk, but only on the top, he corrected, “You mean faux-hawk.” like I was stupider than stupid for not knowing what to call a kid’s haircut.
“Uhhhh okay, whatthefuckever. I have no idea how to talk about boys’ haircuts, okay? Gimme a frickin break, dude.”
That’s what I wanted to say, but I’m terrified of confrontation so instead I said, “Ummm, right. A ‘faux-hawk.’ Sorry.” Plus, I didn’t want him to cut my child just because I’d pissed him off. Yes that has happened before. There are hair-cutter people out there who really don’t like cutting kids’ hair.
When Mr. Grouchy asked “what number” we wanted around the sides and I didn’t know what to tell him (my husband usually does that), he heaved a huge sigh of exasperation. He ordered Mari to stop touching a few things which, in my opinion, were perfectly fine for her to be touching. She’s fucking four; let her touch the stupid plastic sign. JEEZ.
Anxiety began to boil in my chest. My ears felt like they’d lit on fire and I caught myself furiously rubbing my eyebrows (no wonder I have a zit under one of them). If this asshole screws up my kid’s hair, I thought, I am going to have to do something about it. Please God, let him get it right so I do not have to have a confrontation with this douche-bag.
As I watched Mr. Grouchy cut Lucas’ hair, I quickly realized he wasn’t doing what we’d asked. He was doing a fade (see? I know some of the lingo!), not a Mohawk. The only way it would look like a Mohawk is if we styled it, which we never do. I don’t even brush my own hair, much less style my kids’ hair. And I knew Lucas wanted it to look like a Mohawk all the time, without having to style it. The only reason he was sacrificing his luscious hair — the source of so many compliments for a kid with ADHD who, quite frankly, doesn’t get enough goddamn compliments — was so he could be cool over the summer.
I watched Lucas’ face begin to droop and I could tell he was fighting back tears. He had really liked his hair long, and what this guy was doing to him was so not the Mohawk he’d seen in the picture. So when grouchy-pants walked away for a second, I said, “Lucas – what are you thinking right now?” He looked at the mounds of long, silky hair on the floor, trying not to cry, and said, “I’m thinking I really shouldn’t have done this.”
|That’s only about 20% of it. YIKES.|
It’s words like this that make a mamma’s heart break.
Mr. Grouchy returned, ready to style Lucas’ hair. I stepped in hesitantly and said, “Um, okay, so Lucas – I’m thinking you want it to always look like a Mohawk, without having to style it, right? Like you wanted a delineation here between the side and the top, right? So it’ll be really obvious you have a Mohawk?”
Mr. Grouchy seemed slightly annoyed, but I apologized again and reiterated that I am new at the whole “describing haircuts” thing. As he clipped along the edges of the Mohawk I could see Lucas’ face slowly morph from sad to excited. He was getting his Mohawk.
I think Lucas’ smile even had an effect on Mr. Grouchy, because I saw the shadow of a smile on his face too. I wondered if he was miserable working in this $10 chop-shop giving the same haircut to brat after brat, or if maybe something had happened to him that morning to throw his day off track. Not that he should take it out on us, of course, but there are plenty of times when I take my frustrations out on people who don’t deserve it. We all have shitty days, right? I decided to cut the guy some slack.
I told Mr. Grouchy thank you for accommodating us even though I didn’t do a very good job of describing what we wanted. He seemed genuinely surprised by my kindness (as well he should’ve been; I was full of shit and only trying to avoid confrontation.) We paid and I left more tip than I probably should have, telling him to have a great day. Again he seemed surprised that I was being so nice to him, and wished us a great day in return. I left that place feeling like I’d done something good for somebody.
I don’t know what would have happened if I were the kind of person to come unhinged at someone for being rude to my children, but as it happens, I’m not that kind of person. And I’m not sure if my awkward attempts at confrontation-avoidance turned his day around enough to save his future customers from a bad haircut or inadvertent stab in the ear. All I know is that from the time we arrived to the time we left, the guy’s attitude had turned around completely.
On second thought, it probably had nothing to do with my cowardly compassion. Lucas’ innocent excitement over his new Mohawk had him beaming so much sweetness into that place it was pretty much impossible for anyone in there to be grumpy.
|This kid can ROCK a Mohawk.|
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