Our trips to the barber shop

Doesn’t this sound like it should be the beginning of a funny joke to you? A white girl, an Asian guy and an African toddler walk into a black barbershop in downtown Harrisburg.

First of all, I’m a terrible joke teller. Just terrible. Second of all, it’s not a joke. It is what happened at 11am yesterday morning when we went for Little Dude’s second haircut.

We let Little Dude’s hair get super long before we ventured to the barbershop for the first time. We had some older African women imploring us to keep it long. We had all sorts of people telling us it was great. We had strangers approach us to tell us how they loved it. Heck, we loved it. But it was a mess. It was super hard to care for, and he hated for us to do anything to it. He screamed and thrashed when we shampooed it or tried to pick even little pieces of whatever got stuck in it (which was a lot). Pick it? Um, no. Brush it? Whenever we tried that, I was terrified the neighbors would call Child Services on us.

We finally bit the bullet at the end of May and decided to take him for his first haircut. I sent out a Facebook plea for recommendations, and finally settled on a place on Third Street. Honestly, it was exactly what I pictured. Lots of guys just hanging out, a game table set up, and no frills. I had a feeling this was the right place, but I wasn’t sure.

We were told to wait for a particular guy, but he had several people waiting already. Another chair came open, so we took the opportunity. Here’s the play by play:

S sat in the chair first, and I put Little Dude in his lap. Little Dude is not stupid, and realizes something is going to happen to him, so he immediately starts flipping out. The barber snapped on the cape around him, and LD started trying to make a break for it. I had claimed my spot in front of the chair, and held down various appendages as they tried to make their presence known.

The barber got out the clippers and tried to make friends with Little Dude. The wee one was quiet, though unimpressed. When the clippers came near his head, Little Dude struck like a ninja. A hand came out of from under the cape and smacked it away. I was worried.

The barber was unflappable, and went to work. Because Little Dude was so resistant to our hair care efforts, his curls has become a mass of chaos. There were knots upon knots, and some of the curls in the back had even started to form dreads. The barber couldn’t simply clip LD’s hair off; he had to keep stopping to use some sort of magic detangler and a pick to get through some. This angered the munchkin.

Between the three of us, 5 hands were holding Little Dude and one hand was working the clippers. He fought and fought, but honestly was not quite as bad as I thought he’d be. He didn’t kick quite as much, but man did he put his lungs to use. Imagine hearing a child scream “All done! All done!” for 10 minutes straight, at the top of his lungs, through a waterfall of tears. Then imagine that said child ran out of words and then spent the next 5 minutes just screaming “Aaaahhhhh! Aaaaaahhhhh!” That was how it went. The other gentlemen in the shop seemed amused, not irritated (thank God).

Finally it was “done”. His hair cut wasn’t even, but it was close. We were all covered in hair and LD was a tearful, sweaty mess. We paid the barber his $10 and tipped him another $10. We wondered  how long it would be until we felt we needed to go back.

We waited a bit too long again.

Two months later – yesterday – we went back for hair cut #2. I drew the line on this hair on Friday when we were playing in straw at a local farm. Little Dude was throwing straw in the air which, of course, then became lodged in his curls. He smacked my hand away repeatedly when I tried to get that stuff out. I knew where we were headed, so I told S it was time for another hair cut.

We talked about it for several days, and Little Dude seemed excited for it. We headed into the very same barber shop yesterday morning, and were greeted by pretty much the same scene as last time. I thought LD was going to flip out upon entering, but he was cool. He had his bunny puppet with him, and apparently bunny told him to keep calm and carry on.

When we approached the chair, however, the tears and screaming started. Having been through this before, we knew how to approach it. Thankfully we didn’t have to go through the detangling mess this time, and the guy could just use the clippers. At some point, very early on, S tells Little Dude, “It’s okay, buddy. When it’s all over, we’ll go get ice cream, okay?” The tears stopped for a full two seconds while LD says, “Ice cream????” (At that point I of course give S the evil eye, but the damage is done, and we must move on.) Ice cream became the motivator.

(As an aside, S told the barber that he really ought to sell ice cream in the shop so parents can bribe, ahem, reward their kids. Someone should get on that. Really.)

While we had many tears and lots of screaming, this visit wasn’t quite as bad as the first. There were a few knots that caused the clippers to cough and they apparently hurt LD’s precious little scalp. He didn’t thrash as much. He did start to wiggle away at the end, but between the three of us adults, we managed to get his hair done. This time it was completely even, save for one small bit on the bottom on the back. I’m just waiting for the right nap to snip that one off!

So many of you out there had been asking about our hair cutting exploits, so hopefully now your curiosity has been satisfied. Just for old time’s sake, I thought I’d take you through the evolution of Little Dude’s hair. In 2 months, this kid looks like he’s aged 2 years!

The 'fro in May 2013
The ‘fro in May 2013
Between the two of them, that's a lot of hair
Between the two of them, that’s a lot of hair
Right after haircut #1 in May 2013
Right after haircut #1 in May 2013
After haircut #2, yesterday
After haircut #2, yesterday
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