Most of us remember the first (and hopefully last) time we cut our own hair.
And for those who can’t remember, we have loved ones’ stories to paint the picture for us.
I certainly never will forget the time my younger sister took the kitchen shears to her head. The Disney movie “Mulan” had just come out on DVD, which seemed to play on repeat in our house. In the movie, there is a scene where the main character — an adolescent girl — whacks off all of her hair with a sword in an attempt to disguise herself as a male soldier. Luckily, there weren’t any swords hanging around our house.
I’ll never forget the look on my mother’s face when she came down the stairs to find my sister surrounded by locks of curly, brown hair, proudly holding the scissors and declaring to be a modern-day Mulan. The poor girl looked like something out of a horror movie.
I suppose I probably had a similar expression about a week ago when I heard the following chilling words from our oldest son, Alex, 4.
“Look mom! I cut my hair!”
Just moments before, he had been practicing his cutting skills with this neat little workbook he received for his birthday. I was making dinner, and he was cutting rectangle shapes out of a page. And then I turned around, and he was holding up the scissors in one hand and a tuft of his perfectly beautiful blonde hair in the other.
“Aaaaahh!” I screamed. “Nooooo!”
A glaringly obvious bald spot had taken its place on the right side of his head, which matched the opposite side of his head, where he’s had a similar-sized bald spot since birth.
The kid’s got good symmetry; I’ll give him that.
But for whatever reason, my initial reaction was shock and horror. I mean, thinking back to the volume of my yelling, you would have thought the kid had cut his arm off. When I talked to my mom, reminiscing about my sister’s hair-cutting adventures, she remembered feeling the same way.
Understandably surprised at my reaction, Alex started crying. He had been so proud of his newly discovered ability. And then I scared the crap out of him.
After the sobs subsided, we talked about it. I told Alex I yelled because I was concerned for his safety, and I didn’t want him to get hurt with scissors, which can be dangerous. We hugged, and he went back to his workbook, practicing his cutting skills, and I went back to wondering why I, as well as many other parents, would have such a strong reaction to such a trivial act. It’s only hair. It will grow back.
I take some solace in knowing that almost every child does this at one point or another, and honestly, we’re lucky Alex is a boy and only took a small chunk of hair. And not only that, but that he only decided to play hairdresser on his own hair, and not his 14-month-old brother’s.
Meagan Patton-Paulson is The Herald’s Connections editor. Email her at firstname.lastname@example.org