First Choice Home Haircuts: I Don’t Think So!

Imagine this scene: a little girl sits on a stool with a huge sheet tied around her neck, a pained expression on her face and a bowl on her head waiting for a haircut.

Do you remember this humourous, family kitchen scene, perhaps from the forty’s or fifty’s? 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? Norman Rockwell captured many humourous  hair cutting scenes.

This family vignette came to life in the early 1990’s.

Our whole family had driven 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?) Afterwards, 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,


Assuming that my friend was a competent hair dresser, I readily agreed because I was a reluctant hair stylist. This assumption was a serious lapse in common sense. Ginger must have learned how to cut hair from her grandmother because after she carefully combed my daughter’s hair, she placed a bowl on her head to act as a cutting guide. My oldest daughter stood on the sidelines in shocked silence as this scene unfolded.

Later that day, when Mara rushed through the door to show me her new haircut , I managed to smile weakly at her. At least Ginger had used a very large, deep bowl as her pattern and Mara’s hair was still long enough to redeem.

Most people with a lot of kids cut their hair at home. Michael cut the boy’s hair and became a confident barber. However I often panicked as I played hairdresser to the girls. In my defense I will say that 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 an odd genetic deficiency cripples me; I find it difficult to cut straight. The consequences of my handicap meant that I constantly juggled back and forth, from side to side, cutting a bit more hair each time. My brilliant strategy was to only trim a bit of hair at first. After all my adjustments, 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. She was actually very astute, I must admit.

Rachel, however, 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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17 thoughts on “First Choice Home Haircuts: I Don’t Think So!

  1. I think my mom was a wanna be hairdresser……. she would come to me with the latest Family Circle or Women’s Day magazines complete with instructions and cut away. Keep in mind that the entire time she was my mother – which was a long time – her hair NEVER changed.


  2. Brings back some not-so-good memories. My parent’s had 10 kids, 6 boys and 4 girls. They didn’t have to know how to cut my and my brothers hair; they just put the electric trimmer on the lowest setting and gave us a crew cut. In the winter this occurred in the kitchen, but if the weather was nice, we lined up for our turn on the stool in the backyard, that way there was no mess, the wind would blow the hair around the yard.


  3. Aah the memories! I was our family’s hairdresser. The cuts were good…just not in the style they wanted. 🙂 There were tears involved, I’m sorry to report. I think they’ve forgiven me!



  4. Oh I cringe reading Melanie, my mum used a friend down the road to cut our hair all seven daughters use to disappear up the paddocks on haircut day. Our friend had never been a hairdresser and had the trembles when she cut along your fringe with very sharp scissors, that memory has stayed with me and my sisters. I will never cut my own kiddies hair. Love the story beautifully written and had me laughing.


  5. I used a bowl on my youngest. He had straight hair. How hard can it be? It wasn’t hard. When I took the bowl off his head my darling had a perfect bowl cut. He looked like Friar Tuck in those old Robin Hood shows I used to watch on a Sunday night (without the bald patch in the middle.) It didn’t traumatise him, he was too young. But I stayed away from the scissors from that time on. Thanks for the memories. 🙂


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