August | 2012

Lesson No. 39: The Good, The Bad and the Ugly

For years, my son, William (who just turned 9!), has been draped with long locks of thick brown hair. THAT IS until last month’s really…really…really bad haircut. 

William is happiest in long hair and has never let me cut it short. Instructions for the barber are usually very specific and include “Please, just a trim. Thin it out, but leave it long.”

Since our barber had done such a good job on the previous cut, we were not as adamant in describing our expectations for this cut. 

Our instructions were, “We loved what you did last time, just lighten it up a bit more.” Never did we expect her to interpret this as four inches off the back; cutting his hair that was below his shoulders to above his ears. 

Unfortunately, I was engrossed in a trashy magazine while she was chopping off his hair and when I looked up it was too late. She was on her last snip.

William was dealing with the situation with white knuckles, a quivering jaw, and a pool of tears waiting for release. It was too late for me to do anything about it, except try to keep it together and pay the bill.

When we got home, William sat in front of the mirror declaring his disdain for the haircutter and the cut. He cried, “It makes me look stupid. I hate it.” And declared, “I’m not going to camp, or out of this house, until it grows back.”

My heart ached for him. And, while I secretly agreed it was not a good haircut, I desperately searched for words to take away his anger and self-depreciation.

I couldn’t stop myself from the standard “Don’t worry, it will grow back.” I brought up all the teachings on beauty is on the inside; and went on about stories of my worst haircut…blah blah blah blah…

Finally, he cut me off, blurting out, “Mom! This is just how I feel now. I’m not always going to be unhappy!”

In between sobs he continued, “Right now…I hate this haircut! I hate the way I look. I hate her for cutting it… But I won’t always be unhappy.”

Stunned, I realized I wasn’t making room for him to have his own feelings. In fact, I was perpetuating his anger as I tried to change it. I was stretching out the torture. So I finally just shut up. I shut up, and let him be unhappy.

Wow. What a practice that was for me.

Well, I’m happy to report, he did go to camp the next day. He did get over it. 

And, of course, his hair is growing back…

And…may we all remember this for the next “Bad Haircut.”