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?”

Timidly: “Yeah.”

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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  1. Seriously. To be a jerk over hair, that guy must have been having a bad day. Maybe you were the only one who was nice to him today. It’s fun to make a difference. 🙂

  2. I think you set a good example for your boy on how to treat people. Kill ’em with kindness 🙂 He looks adorable, btw!

  3. I hate confrontation too, and I sometimes wonder if being nice is my way of weaseling out of standing up for myself. Then again, I’m rarely sorry I’ve been nice. (Also, what a gorgeous kid!)

  4. I can see points on both sides. Your little boy shouldn’t have had a grumpy stylist take his bad mood out on him or you. However, telling your son to be still is not rude if said nicely and not repeatedly. People do not realize that shears are extremely SHARP! You don’t want the child cut from moving and the stylist sure doesn’t want stitches over a (maybe) $20 cut. Asking a child not to touch things they shouldn’t because it’s boring to watch a sibling get their haircut is not the stylist being an “jerk”. You may feel it’s ok for her to be touching those things but they didn’t cost YOU $. Salon equipment is very expensive and the stylist is responsible for buying it NOT the salon. I do realize it’s had to find a sitter at times (I have 4 kids) but a salon is not a place for kids to do what they want, they could be hurt as well then who would you want to be “responsible”? Regardless, you should have been treated better as a paying customer and he should have acted more professional despite why he was being Mr Grouchy. He could have been nicer on giving your correct terminology.
    Glad that in the end it all worked out he is an adorable kid!!!!

  5. Mom of 2 boys

    Love the mohawk, so handsome! As I was reading this and got to the part where Lucas was fighting back the tears it broke my heart becasue I’ve been there before with my boys. So glad he got the cut he wanted. I would have taken the same approach with Mr. Grouchy that you did. Mamas know best!

  6. He’s going to be the coolest kid at the pool! 🙂

  7. Anonymous

    Your post resonated with me so much; I always try to give people a benefit of a doubt and often (in my own head) end up sounding like a “lick-spittle’ (the only expression that comes to mind)–this uber-nice idiot everyone takes advantage of with their rudeness. But as you said–we do that for our kids, so our kids can learn how to deal with a-holes, politely and effectively.
    And I love the ‘do’ on Lucas!

  8. Awesome mohawk! And kudos to you for walking the line between being a bitch and being pushover- you weren’t either and it worked! Will you give me lessons?!?

  9. It looks like you took him to great clips. The guy gets minimum wage. He doesn’t care find an old school barber next time. Plus most great clips employees are stylists not barbers, but I suppose there was a chance he could have been a lousy barber.

    • He was a barber. He was a heck of a lot quicker than the ladies with the sheers and the comb. Truth be told, it wasn’t his skill I was disappointed with; it was his demeanor. Good tip about the barber though. I’m pretty sure there are some around here. Thanks for commenting!

  10. Anonymous

    You did an excellent job coming from one who also hides when it would appear conflict may be on the horizon. You also practiced a very valuable lesson that many don’t pick up on real quick. You just do not know what someone else might be dealing with and it is wise to take a deep breath and cut ’em some slack. which is what you did, and it seems he appreciated it. You were in a hard corner and you did yourself proud! You kept your boy happy and made the angry barber’s day better! GO YOU! 🙂

    I am a sucker for long hair so I was kind sad to see his go, but he is rockin the faux hawk! My son did the same thing in high school including some very natural looking colors, you know like blue.

    • My daughter wants to have blue hair one day. I think it would be cute, but I’d want it to be temporary, only because girls’ hair takes way longer to grow out. But she’s only 4, so she’ll probably change her mind a billion times by then. =)

  11. I can totally relate. My 13 yr old son was born w/static encephalopathy (organic brain damage), and has ADHD and impulse control disorder. Since he was 2 we knew he was “off.” About 4 months ago he got his first STYLED cut (I always cut at home due to a hyper fear of his of some stranger cutting it) and he picked of all things a mullet. The derision I’ve received from people amazes me. Its HIS Damn hair and it’s what he wanted, because he likes his length but not it in his eyes. The gal at the Supercuts was initially pretty snooty and testy because for every clump of hair that fell he leaned over to watch it fall, or was trying to grab it to caress it. She finally seethed out a “Let it GO,” whereby I quietly asked her to show me a hair product on the wall….NOW please. I explained his condition to her. She quite briskly checked her attitude and continued to cut with a fresh outlook. When we were buckling into the truck, my son said, “You told her, didn’t you?” I am his staunchest supporter and even tho I know he needs me to intervene most times, to say what he can’t, and he is perfect in MY eyes, it kills me to see him helpless like this. It wasn’t always like this. it was much, MUCH worse. The child who would break my most prized possessions, who would walk out of the house at 5:30 am to walk to the market in his Superman pajamas and get picked up by the Les Schwab guy on his way to work, the one who dropped a vase on his 5 mo. old sister’s head while in her bassinet. The one who cut the end of his older sister’s rat’s tail off (it lived btw), who would come home hurt and heartbroken that his peers called him a “Freak” at school on a daily basis, the outbursts, the parents who would look at me and my “asshole kid” with scorn …..Jesus God, if I could just “fix” him somehow, I’d think!!! Having a child without a physically obvious disability can be one of the most challenging roles a parent can deal with. Thank you for being a voice to remind us that we’re not alone in our struggles.

    • Wow. Your comment really punched me in the gut. I’ve got nothing but admiration for you. xoxo