A Little Off the Top

One of my children has a deep-seated fascination with the hair clippers. Ditto with Jeff’s shaver. Completely obsessed, he is.

We used to keep these things high up on a closet shelf so they were “inaccessible” to Jack (gold star if you guessed the right boy). But he schooled us shortly after that maneuver. He waited one day until I was occupied elsewhere, pushed a chair into the closet, retrieved the clippers, plugged them in, and shaved a portion of his head.

Who’s the smartest now, eh momma?

But all this motor-planning and problem-solving on Jack’s part made me feel proud. So I didn’t get too bothered by his choppy, messed-up haircut. At least, not this time.

As months passed, Jack put any pair of found scissors to immediate good use, by self-barbering a swath of hair right down the center of his scalp. Even when I began hiding all the scissors, Jack demonstrated an uncanny ability to locate spare pairs which seemed to be multiplying like rabbits in random corners of the house. Curse you, stupid rabbit scissors!

Like a moth to the flame, Jack was drawn to the scissors. In the junk drawer? Yes. Old pencil cases? Check. In a laundry room cupboard with art supplies I forgot we had? Absolutely. He even managed to flush out my long-forgotten craft box (from another life, when I cared about such things) and gave himself a ragged trim with the pinking shears.

I told myself that giving oneself a bad haircut is a right of passage in childhood. I decided I could be okay with his recurring bald spot since it meant he was learning and growing. I could deal with it.

It was simply the year of the bad hair.

But it is starting to eat at me, a little. This is probably because we have family pictures scheduled in a couple of weeks, and while I’m fine with Jack traipsing off to school with a crappy haircut, I’m less enthused about recording it in a portrait forever.

I keep fixing it, thinking we still have time for it to grow in partially. And he keeps chopping it. Is this tenacity? Passive aggressiveness? Some reliably fun sensory play? What are you telling me in your nonverbal way, my boy?

It’s like a tango. We dance around the haircuts, repairing them and then butchering them anew.

As the photo shoot creeps closer, I’m trying to be very Zen about this.

And I’m thinking it’s time to go buy a fedora.

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