CUTTING KIDS HAIR: The Trials and Errors


Do you remember this humourous, family kitchen scene, perhaps from the forty’s or fifty’s, where a child sits on a stool with a huge sheet tied around their neck, a pained expression on their face and a bowl on their head as Mother stands poised behind them, scissors in hand? This family drama came to life in the early 1990’s.

Our whole family had gone out to visit a another large family for dinner. (Who else but another large family ever  had enough courage to invite us, even if the meal was potluck?) Ginger invited my two oldest daughters to sleep over for one night.

Mara phoned home in great excitement the next morning; my friend was cutting hair and would I allow her to give Mara a shorter haircut?  “…PLEEEASE?” Of course I agreed because it was free and hair grows. I felt confident that my friend wouldn’t offer to cut my child’s hair if she didn’t know what she was doing. What a mistake!  I think Mara , even though she was only about  six or seven, became concerned as the bowl was placed on her head. The entire procedure horrified her older sister ; Melissa stood on the sidelines in shocked silence as the scene unfolded. When the two of them got home,  I smiled weakly at Mara but I was relieved that my friend  had  at least employed a very large bowl with deep sides as her hair pattern. Mara’s hair was still long enough to redeem.

Many people with a lot of kids  to cut their hair at home. Michael  was a wonderful barber to the boys. However I often panicked as I played hairdresser to the girls but I almost always manage to fix my blunders, thank God. The trick was to keep my daughters’ hair long. Even then, I trimmed it with great fear and trembling because I am crippled by an odd genetic deficiency;  I find it difficult to cut straight. The consequences of my deficiency meant that I  was forced to constantly juggled back and forth, from side to side, cutting a  little bit more hair each time. My brilliant strategy was to only trim a bit of hair at first, so by the the time I was finished “fixing”, the hair was just the right length.

Of course there was the time I cut a couple of my girl’s hair short, pixie style. Overall the hair style was cute but definitely not professional looking.  A couple of younger daughters cut their own bangs and achieved a ‘back to basics’  look. Emily’s creation was the worst because she cut  her own bangs at three years old ,with child safety scissors, an inch from her scalp in some spots and two or three inches in other spots. The only option available to me that time was to cut Emily’s bangs all the same length and  then to persuade her to wear stretchy, soft cloth headbands that practically covered  her hairline.

However the funniest  hair cutting story involved seventeen year old Rachel and her thirteen year old sister, Lucy. Lucy desperately needed her bangs trimmed but she refused to let me near her with a pair of scissors in my hand. She was actually very astute, I must admit. Rachel, on the other hand, was  confident that she understood the theory behind professionally trimmed bangs. She announced that she would be pleased to help Lucy out. Rachel feathered Lucy’s bangs well. Her one mistake however was to pull  firmly on Lucy’s wet hair while she cut. Lucy’s hair is very curly. When Rachel let go and the hair dried, Lucy’s bangs sprang up and looked like they were about an inch long.

 Lucy burst into tears and Rachel burst out laughing. In fact, Rachel laughed so hard that she hit her head on the counter. Everyone came racing in and of course and started to laugh. Finally, holding back giggles, older siblings rounded up headbands, their own special pins, clips and combs and managed to console Lucy.

 Just this weekend, four years later, Lucy’s sisters were remembering the Bang’s Catastrophe while  laughing hysterically. Only this time Lucy joined in.

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