Haircuts and the passage of time

Noah's first haircut, June 2007

Almost since the beginning, I’ve given all the haircuts in the family. No, I’m not a trained hair stylist — I started out of necessity. Occasionally, I have an “off” day and the results are less than stellar. But for the most part, I do an OK job. No one runs away crying at the horrible hair of my kids or husband.

While this started out as a cost saving measure, it has transitioned into something so much more.

A baby in our family usually gets his first haircut by age two. For girls, I do little more than trim the ends to even them up. Boys take a bit more work. That first haircut is an exercise in patience — both for me and the child. I need help from my husband to hold their head while I’m making cuts, because they cannot understand the notion of sitting still for five seconds. It’s always bittersweet to see those baby locks fall away. I pick up a clipping to save. To remember the sweet curls,Noah's first haircut, June 2007 the baby-fine softness of their hair. Then there is that moment when they look in the mirror after the haircut and stare with no recognition of who they are. šŸ™‚

As the babies turn into toddlers, they do much better at sitting. Some get frightened at the noise the clipper makes. All are curious. The hair changes. Gradually. A bit darker maybe, fuller, less fine.

Grade school kids just want the haircuts done, often opting to have it all buzzed off. I notice when they haven’t been doing an adequate job of washing their hair, and I instruct them. We have one-on-one time to chat about how they are doing, or other things that might be important to them at the time. Now the hair is full and strong, and they have settled into their own hair color. The hair changes. Almost imperceptibly. Growing thicker, coarser.

During the teen years, the hair changes dramatically. Hair that once was straight now is curly. Coarse hair turns fine. Limp, fine hair now has a ton of body. It’s interesting, what hormones do to hair. Yep, those bodies are changing. Hair is greasier. Again I give reminders about personal hygiene as we have our haircut chats. They also have more of an opinion on how they want their hair to look. Style. I try to accommodate, but I have no training. I learned on the job and my methods are primitive, to say the least. Sometimes mom doesn’t cut it (haha, pun not intended, I saw it after I wrote the sentence) anymore, and they seek out someone more experienced and professional to do the job. I’m fine with this. Less work for me. Right? But there is a twinge of sadness, as I see them begin the separation process toward independence. And I miss the chats we used to have as I cut. While I recognize this as normal, healthy and good, there is a part of me that longs for them to stay little and cuddlable.

As adults, sometimes a mom haircut is preferred because they recognize the cost savings to them. Their hair is mature now, as they are. Settled into their true color and style. Just as they are. We again chat. Sometimes this is the only alone time we have in a week or more. I no longer need to remind them of personal hygiene. They get it now.

As I cut hair year after year, every six weeks or so, I watch time pass by. I reflect on the changes that I have seen represented in the fallen hair on my bathroom floor.

And I’ve seen the process continue into adulthood as I’ve cut Don’s hair. When I first started, he was younger than our oldest child is now. He had very thick, slightly wavy, coarse hair. It took a LOT of pruning to make it lay nicely. Over the years I’ve notice a bit less in the dust pan at sweep-up time. I’ve noticed a little gray, a bit of receding at the temples. A little more gray. Finer hair again. Time goes on. I am hit with the realization that we are getting older. How did this happen? Weren’t we just married a couple of years ago? I don’t feel any different.

I remember all the hair on the floor. I remember the changes. The changes represented there encompass several lifetimes.

What changes will the future hold? Eventually all the kids will grow up and leave. No more haircuts, no more chats. But, Lord willing, Don and I will grow old together. I won’t necessarily feel it, but I’ll see it in the hair on the bathroom floor.

Hair clippings on floor

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