I don’t think there is anything quite so stress-inducing (or itch-inducing) as attempting to extract a tick from a toddler’s scalp. I take that back. We had lice once, that took the cake (and an entire case of wine to get through) but here we were on our 18th episode of some obnoxiously preachy children’s show that Junior had stumbled upon and was currently approaching with all the zeal and enthusiasm of Steve Martin in Leap of Faith or leap off the couch in this feature attraction.
“Fine, go all evangelical on me as long as you stay still,” I thought, trying for the umpteenth time to dislodge that delightful little parasite, and oh, are you ready for a miracle? I got it, legs and all.
Such a glamorous job I have here, truly, it goes without saying … removing bugs from my kids’ scalps, hunting down those wayward hairbrushes, perfecting the art of the at-home haircut — or butchering it in this case. But I was tired of those little suckers treating my toddler like a blood bank and if I had to watch one more round of Wheels on the Bus, that iPad might take a very long nap, like forever.
There are so many things, I’ve decided, that look good in theory but not so much when you drive them off the lot. Close to the top of that list is Salon Chez Moi. Talk about shear remorse. I am not a hairdresser. People go to school for this, they train, they have a license and something besides kitchen scissors. They do not make small children look like future bowtie killers. Good thing he’s handsome.
But my wheels, they couldn’t stop turning, remembering all those very, very bad haircuts I’d given over the years, mostly to my own kids, sometimes to other people’s. Straight hair as it turns out is not quite so forgiving as curly hair but still more forgiving than my younger daughter, who incidentally sported a major mullet between the years of 2010 and 2013. I can’t do enough apologizing when we scroll through old photos.
“The bangs are especially charming,” I tell her but she just rolls her eyes.
“Is that just another lie you tell yourself so you can sleep at night?” she mutters, although I vaguely recall those scissors going missing at some point along with her 4-year-old self, appearing much later with “more than a mullet” and possibly a lifelong affinity for sharp objects. I was sweeping up hair for a week and crying over those choppy little bangs for months to come.
But truthfully if we’re talking about cake taking, nothing quite holds a candle to my now almost-17-year-old who somewhere around Junior’s age got it into her head, quite literally, that her very curly locks would make a terrific train track for this little Thomas the Tank whose wheels spun on a battery and I swear, it almost left her with a bald spot. Let’s just say Thomas took a very long time and a lot of spiffy moves with the scissors before he finally left the station. I still have flashbacks when I hear the theme song. Children’s programming, it never fails to deliver.
I call my mom later through the English Channel that is my phone, relaying in great detail the tawdry tale of the ticks, the bus wheels driving me crazy, my seven minutes in heaven with the kitchen scissors, and she reminds me that when I was little, she used to throw my cut hair out for the birds so they could build nests with it and that this was “fun” for me. (I’m not sure but this might explain my intense aversion to all things aviary. If they came for the hair on the ground, certainly my head would be far closer gleaning ground. I wore a lot of hats during this time.)
I put the scissors far out of reach — mine and Junior’s — and pop him in his high chair, quickly surveying the damage and his more-than-a-mullet. “Charming,” my younger daughter quips. Oh, the lies we tell ourselves. Good thing he’s handsome.
Columnist Lesley Kirschner grew up quiet, in the woods, and devoid of siblings so her hobbies quickly became reading, writing, and talking to inanimate objects. She also spent a considerable amount of time doing voice-overs for her dolls and watching too much daytime television–channel 3, sometimes channel 8, if the weather was good and the antenna wasn’t acting up. She was in attendance at school, graduated from a very much not notable college not worth mentioning, and was transplanted to Wilton with her husband, Ambler Farm‘s Farmer Jonathan and their (baby makes) three children almost a decade ago. Although she never quite found her calling in life, other than perhaps the doll voice-overs, which in hindsight were eerily convincing, she’s happy to try her hand at writing and is thankful for the support and community she found on Facebook’s Buy Nothing Wilton. Lesley realizes while this is all very exciting, she’s not winning a Pulitzer so she’ll wrap it up and be quiet. She’s had a lot of practice.