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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