One of my favorite investments that my husband ever made was a $30 set of hair cutting clippers. He thought I was kidding at first, when I told him I wanted it for my birthday. He had only known me a few years at the time, and was just growing accustomed to my practical nature, I guess. I wouldn’t kid about a thing like that. I realize it would not have been the perfect gift for a lot of people. But I had an inkling that I could put it to good use in our growing family.
I was not trained as a barber, but I did have a bit of experience with hair. For starters, I’ve always had a lot of it. Thick hair is somewhat “forgiving” of mistakes, and the difference between “too short” and “just right” is only two weeks, anyway, so when I was in high school I trimmed my own bangs. It never occurred to me to go to a salon for a trim. My sister and I took turns snipping each others’ locks when we didn’t want to impose on Mom–she was busy enough. My brothers always had conservative short hairstyles, thanks to her, and I had watched her shear them about every month for all their lives. . . Good enough? Well, maybe not quite.
For a few years, after we grew up, one of my brothers trusted me, only me, to cut his hair. It flattered me that he wanted me to be his stylist–he had quite a reputation and an image to keep up. I realized, of course, that it was because he could watch my every move in the mirror and tell me just how to shape it. He knew I’d follow orders better than anyone he could find who had been professionally trained, I suppose. But I will take credit for the fact that it was my close attention to detail that made him ask the second time.
Ideally you’d want to gain experience with brand new hair clippers on a willing and very still subject. I had the next best thing–a squirmy 18 month old who didn’t know what he was getting into. I decided that it would be easier to put him in a high chair in front of his favorite movie–Disney’s “Robinhood” if I remember correctly–than to hope he would hold still in a barber’s chair. Practicing on a child has it’s upside, however. He never complained about the outcome, only of it taking too long.
In the beginning we went with the buzz–quick and simple. I used the small attachment on the sides and back, the larger attachment on top. By the time he started making special requests I had figured out how to use scissors and felt more confident about blending and thinning techniques–and he had figured out that haircuts were quicker and the results were guaranteed if he held still.
After a few years of grooming my son, and of touching things up when his dad came home from the barber, I finally convinced my husband to trust me. I’ve been the family hairstylist ever since. It’s not my favorite hobby, but there’s satisfaction in knowing I’ve saved the family budget something in the neighborhood of twenty haircuts a year for fifteen years or so. I’ve never calculated it, but that’s worth something! It was frosting on the cake when I overheard my son telling his sister he didn’t want anyone but Mom even touching his hair!