Jack was sad at the prospect of letting the wild, long hair go, but sadder still that Betty and Susanna, the female barbers, were occupied. He'd been going to them since his days of sitting on a booster seat and reading Berenstain Bears in the barber chair. They were familiar with his hair and took good care of the "floop" in the front.
We were in a rush that day, so he got his hair cut by an older gentleman named William. Because William could see Jack was not keen on getting his hair cut at all, he made the unfortunate move of keeping it somewhere between long and short on top, which in this family translates into "big." It looked like something to which the words "wedge," "stacked," and possibly "mushroom" would apply.
If you were Rickie Schroeder in Silver Spoons or even Zach or Cody in the early years of The Suite Life, it might have been okay. But if you were Jack Donaldson, not so much.
But I've not been known for staying on top of our family's grooming. My own gray roots inspired the name of this blog. And I never once let Margaret get bangs, not even as a toddler, because I knew I was never going to be able to keep up with that shit. It was like, get your back to school haircut, and we'll revisit "hair" sometime next spring. So instead of cutting our losses and returning to cut Jack's hair shorter, we sent him off to experience a large portion of the school year with a mushroom head. His friends at school were amused.
I tell you this because over the course of 6th grade Jack (with some helpful pointers from Margaret and me) came to realize he looked better with short hair. The growing out stage was just too unsightly. By the time the summer before 7th grade rolled around, he was keeping it pretty short, asking for several cuts on his own accord. He didn't need much of a back to school cut, but as you know, Jack loved tradition, so off to the barber shop we went right after supply drop off.
"I hope it's not William," he said as we parked the car, remembering the worst haircut of his life. "William doesn't even work here anymore," I replied. "There's some new old guy." Jack sighed, knowing that neither of us had the guts to make waves if the old guy's chair was open. Our family has a whole underdog thing going on as well as a genetic inability to speak up.
We walked in and took our seats next to the wooden checkerboard.
Betty and Susanna were both busy cutting hair, and the new guy was free as a bird.
"Ready for a cut?" he called out, picking up the plastic cape to put around Jack's shoulders.
"We're going to wait for Susanna today." I said.
And Jack looked at me and smiled a little smile. Not big enough to make the old man feel bad, but big enough for me to notice.
I haven't always done the right thing as a parent. Not by a long shot. And I had no idea I'd have only 48 hours left with my boy. But in that one little moment, I was Super Mom.
5th Grade Crazy "Before":
6th Grade Before and Short After:
7th grade Before: