Newspaper article The Christian Science Monitor

Barbershops: The Unkindest Cut of All for a Four-Year-Old

Newspaper article The Christian Science Monitor

Barbershops: The Unkindest Cut of All for a Four-Year-Old

Article excerpt

If you think about it, a son's first haircut is a comparatively easy one for most parents. The initial trip to the barber's often resembles a media event, complete with supportive parents and grandparents, photos, and, of course, the requisite lunch at the child's favorite fast-food restaurant. Subsequent haircuts, however, lack this festive air, enthusiastic booster section, and - most important - blatant bribery, and can present more of an adventure.

By his fourth trip, my son was not sure he liked this at all. He got in the car willingly enough, but as we crossed the parking lot and he could see our destination, his pace began to drag and his grip on my hand tightened.

As it happened, the barbershop was filled with a Saturday- afternoon crowd, and I considered returning another time. But, no, I thought, it's time my boy learned to share in this lifetime ritual, including the obligatory wait, in a real barbershop - not one of those unisex places where his mother wanted to take him. The owner was finishing an elderly gentleman's hair, and thinking that my outward nonchalance and apparent calmness would somehow be contagious, I sat down with a magazine (another part of the ritual) as my increasingly apprehensive child stared fixedly at the barber and his customer.

My son suddenly let out a shriek. "What's he doing to his eyes?" he screamed with his hands jammed into his eyelids. I explained that there was nothing to worry about - the barber was just trimming the man's eyebrows. I almost had my boy calmed down when he screamed again.

"What's he doing to his nose?" he cried, this time with his hand plastered across his face. We left hastily.

OK, I thought, it's time to regroup. Like a military campaign, our successful return hinged on better preparation and planning.

Explaining the eyebrow trimming was the easy part. …

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