Most of my childhood haircuts were free. My mom’s sister is a cosmetologist. Aunt Jeannie provided complementary haircuts until I was in college.
By then, it was cheaper to have my hair cut on campus than drive to Aunt Jeannie’s salon. Still, I’d sometimes wait until spring break or Christmas vacation to get a trim, showing up at my godmother’s salon with neck hair like the Wolf man.
When Bubba needed his first haircut, it was Aunt Jeannie who wielded the
scissors. My nine-month-old boy sat patiently for his first trim. His second haircut was a nightmare. Bubba squirmed and cried, causing Aunt Jeannie to slice her finger. The floor below looked like an animal gnawed off its leg to escape a fur trapper – a scattered pile of blood and hair.
Not everyone is lucky enough to have a family member with such skills. And as belts are tightening, one way to cut costs is home haircutting. Kids haircuts cost about $12. But, I couldn’t recommend this do-it-yourself approach without doing it myself, so last week I went out and bought “The Complete Haircutting Kit for Dummies.”
I also called Aunt Jeannie for some tips, these included:
* Use short scissors. Long scissors – such as those used to cut fabric – can be dangerous. “If they turn their head, you’re more apt to poke an eye out,” Aunt Jeannie warned.
* Cut wet hair with scissors. Clippers work best on dry hair.
* Less is more. Leaving hair a little longer gives parents the option to take their tike into a salon or barbershop for a professional redo.
* If you just want to make a professional haircut last longer, focus on the bangs and around the ears. This will buy you some time between cuts.
With this advice, I sat my 2 ½-year-old son on a tall chair in the middle of the kitchen. I plugged in the electric trimmers that came with the $20 kit I purchased from Sears. I used the longest guard (no. 4), but Bubba began to cry as I ran it through the hair on the side of his head.
This reaction required a change in strategy. I quickly sprayed his hair down with warm water using an empty Windex bottle I rinsed out. I combed Bubba’s wet hair and began snipping. I focused on the front and sides of his tiny head, realizing that layering the top of his mop was well beyond my capabilities.
My approach was eerily similar to trimming outdoor shrubs. Take a few snips. Step away. Look for uneven or overgrown patches and go back in for a few more snips.
Bubba was crying hard after about 4 minutes of this harebrained experiment. Even a blue Dum Dum couldn’t calm him. I gave up, and The Wife took a sobbing Bubba and his 16-month-old brother Peter into the bathtub.
I’m sure Peter was thankful for his bald, baby head as he watched his dad go all Sweeney Todd on his big brother.
The tears subsided as Bubba emerged from the bathtub. His bangs were somewhat improved, lying slightly higher on his forehead. The sides and back of his hair were rather choppy from my inept combination of clippers and scissors.
As his hair dried, it became even more obvious that large chunks of hair were missing in random places. Bubba looks like he has mange.
I’m sure I’d get better at cutting hair with a little more practice. The nice thing is that I don’t have to. Instead, I’ll make an appointment with Aunt Jeannie.
Image by: Crystal Woroniuk, SXC
Howard Ludwig is a former business writer who traded his reporter’s notebook for a diaper bag, becoming a stay-at-home dad.