Well, this is a milestone if ever there was one.
What is it that makes childhood haircuts a terrifying experience? For everyone, I mean.
Perhaps we brought this on ourselves. We haven’t cut Vivian’s hair since she was born. For the most part, it functioned well without a trim, and we delighted when the hair was long enough to put back into a ponytail.
But then Vivian started to get very territorial about her hair. We weren’t allowed to put it back in a ponytail. We certainly weren’t allowed to comb out the tangles (of which there were many), and even the act of pulling it away from her eyes would sometimes result in a cry of protest and a swat. Erin said, we’ve got to cut her hair, or else people will think she’s an orphan. So, I made the call. “Hi, I’d like to book a haircutting appointment for my daughter, please. Do you do two-year-olds? Good. We’ve got a live one.”
The place we chose was recommended to us by a sympathetic mother at the Early Years program. It’s called “Cookie Cutters” and it specializes in giving haircuts to precocious young kids. If anybody would be able to handle giving Vivian a haircut, they would. They had an indoor play set, not to mention plenty of distractions to keep the kids occupied while the snip-snips came close to their face and ears, including individual video displays to show favourite movies (like Dora the Explorer) and seats shaped like airplanes and fire trucks.
In the end, we had to have Erin sit and hold Vivian on her lap as she cried, and then screamed that she didn’t want a haircut, she wanted her grandma, and she wanted to go home. “Do you want to wait until she’s less upset?” asked the hairstylist. “It’s not going to get any better,” we replied ruefully.
But the hairstylists were professionals. They gave her a lolli-pop, and when Dora appeared on the video screen, Vivian calmed right down, and the transformation began.
The hairstylist had a lot of good advice about what style to choose to keep the hair manageable, and we took her up on it. We also bought some industrial-strength detangler that worked a lot better than the bottle at home, and we invested in a certificate celebrating the first haircut, and a small baggie containing locks of Vivi-hair for the grandparents.
Vivian did wonderfully, much to our relief. Even her initial outburst was nothing that these folks had already seen. Indeed, a similar outburst occurred with another kid that followed us. According to the proprietor, they’ve faced much worse, including biting and extremely frazzled parents (I’ll bet).
As a parent, the relief that Vivian took to her haircut well was palpable, but the confusion over why this is such a terror remains. And yet I do recall that I also hated haircuts as a kid, but in my case I particularly hated those tapers that my father used, with dull razor blades to scrape down the back of my head. It eventually got so frustrating that they finally took me to a hairstylist. We never looked back.
Hairstylists today fill a key niche in the raising of children in North America. They know how to handle these tough customers, and they take what could be an extremely stressful situation out of the parents’ hands. We paid $50 for the whole experience. It was worth every penny.
More pictures of Vivian’s new look can be found on Erin’s Flickr stream.