Extreme make-over (two-year-old mix)

We could never be described as a family of fashionistas. The closest thing I have to a style icon is The Big Lebowski and J-Bone is interested only in his black Batman t-shirt. We try and keep his wardrobe colourful – especially lively blues, yellows, pinks, and reds, but he seems to look pretty good in most colours – except maybe green. Even when he was a newborn, we tried to steer clear of white, powder blue and pastels, dyeing all his baby-gros a range of purples, reds, etc. We like bold colours, OK?

His hair seems to naturally assume the indie-kid, slightly bowlie fringe, which always looks good but eventually creeps into his eyes and makes things uncomfortable. Sometimes he’s in a stripey tee and he looks like he’s heading off to audition for an infant remake of some nouvelle vague classic or a Jesus and Mary Chain video shoot. He’s all understated cool and imaginary Gaulloises: he certainly doesn’t get it from his parents.

He views haircuts with detached amusement, although it is typically impossible to get him to keep his head really still. Various hairdressers have had varying levels of success in keeping to their plan. But it has generally been a fairly painless experience.

Until today.

I think the problem may have been that I was too ambitious: not something I normally have to worry about. I called in to the hairdressers yesterday on a sunny morning in no great hurry, which would’ve been a perfect time, but I needed to make an appointment. So 2.15 the next afternoon was arranged, just enough time for him to have his afternoon nap, if he needed one. I felt things were in control.

It was a fairly miserable, rainy morning, so I decided to combine a trip to Boots for J stuff with a walk over to the Early Learning Centre (or the ‘rocket shop’ on account of its rocket-themed lift) so Jabs could have a bit of an indoor run-around and play with some (all) of the display toys. So far, so OK. I pushed the envelope a little further by including a visit to Clarks to check whether I hadn’t accidentally exaggerated the size of his feet (nope, verified Size 10G hoofers); this was where I maybe lost my grip on the schedule. It was something I’d meant to do for a while, get his feet checked, and I thought I’d slip it in, but I’d underestimated how busy it might be.

When we got home, J didn’t want to eat any lunch (it was a *little* early), but wanted some shut-eye instead. Easy enough. A rather punishing proofreading schedule kept me up late last night so I also had an hour’s sleep. Maybe the plan would come together after all… I woke up blearily, made a cheese sandwich for him to eat with some grapes and fruit juice, and woke him up.

At this point, I realised my mistake. He doesn’t often appreciate having his precious pillow-time cut short. There often has to be an exclusion zone of a good 30 minutes at least before anything cooperative can be expected from him. Everything is ‘No!’ and nothing makes him happy: he doesn’t like CBeebies, he doesn’t like pizza or grapes, he is a duvet-hugging teenager eleven years early. And I’d decided that this was the time to take him for a haircut. In the pouring rain. Round of applause for Table Four!

So, there was grumpiness en route, but he also ate some of his cheese sandwich, so there was hope. As we sat waiting for the chair to be free, we read Flip-Flop Farm, and J complained about any animal that wasn’t correct. No time for Dirrels or Squogs or Purkeys. Full Moon in Virgo, a-place-for-everything-and-I-will-growl-until-it-finds-it impatience and humour fail. But I felt I was gradually wrestling some levity from the little spud, while at the same time feeling a familiar parental panic begin to climb my ribs. He sat down.


It didn’t go well. Snotty hair in his wailing pink mouth, tears rolling down his furry cheeks, butchered fringe like something out of a 19th century mental asylum. Thumbs-up parenting skills and an irrational burning sense of public humiliation.


Later, I have to deal with Dr L’s understandable disappointment on her return and the subsequent tonsorial post-mortem without getting defensive. I have at least booked in another appointment for Friday – in the morning with no naps in sight. And hey, it will grow back, right?

As a style footnote, J also decided that he needed to get some ink on his shins – no doubt because he’s heard how hard and cool it was. A liberal scribble and he was very happy with his work, absolutely didn’t want to have it wiped off. I remembered the advice to pick one’s battles with the smaller family members and asked myself why it would be a problem for him to show off his living art status down the retail park. I realised that the only issue was that I might be embarrassed and that being embarrassed by my lad indulging in a little harmless self-expression was not something I wanted to indulge in. So out we went.


That inking sensation
Course, when J-Bone had his post-trim shower, I found that the pen wasn’t washing off. So we’ll both have to live with his artistic statement for a wee bit longer. But not as long as his haircut, eh?

Lessons will be learned, my friends; lessons will be learned.

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