The first thing I noticed when James was born was the amount of dark hair he had; that soon changed to being blonde and now it looks like its on its way to being dark again. His hair has always grown quickly and the longer it gets the thicker it gets. When people would talk about their children’s strengths we would joke that James’ hair is his strength. He may not be able to walk yet but he’s got good hair, or he may not be able to say much but he’s got good hair.
Having hair that grows quickly means frequent hair cuts, which would be fine if James was accepting of a haircut but instead he treats a haircut as though he is about to be murdered. The screams coming from him are far worse than any he produces when he has hurt himself, and that’s even before the scissors have touched his hair. You would think that he could feel his hair being cut and that it was causing him immense pain.
Luckily my sister is a trained hairdresser, although she doesn’t do it professionally, so she started to cut James’ hair. I can’t remember the first time she cut it because each time is the same – traumatic for us all. In the early days she was able to cut James’ hair whilst he was sat on my lap as I was able to keep him still while he screamed. Then my sister had a baby and James’ screaming meant that her daughter would then scream, just adding to the trauma for everyone involved. As he has got older and stronger it has got harder for me to restrain him so we had to resort to haircuts when my husband was home so he could keep James still, and I would take my niece into the garden so she didn’t get upset by James’ antics. I think I got the much better deal there.
However, my sister cutting James’ hair has had an impact on their relationship. He cries as soon as he sees her and tries to lead her to the door to indicate that he doesn’t want her here. It has resulted in my niece saying “James is sad” when she comes over and sees James crying because he is anticipating a haircut. It has got to the stage where my sister doesn’t want to cut James’ hair anymore because of the impact it is having on her relationship with him. He sees her as the person that comes and inflicts misery on him rather than seeing her as his Aunty. Annoying for us but we can understand why she doesn’t want to.
We have had to consider how we tackle James’ future haircuts. My husband suggested we took him to a hairdressers to which my response was he can, but I’m not. He would scream the shop down even if he got to sit in one of those kid friendly cars. It’s one thing dealing with a distressed toddler at home but in public it would be worse for us all. I liked having my sister cut his hair because it’s someone he knows and I hoped that would make it less traumatic for him.
I started to think about whether I would be able to cut James’ hair myself and had a look on Amazon if there were any kid friendly clippers. What I was really hoping for were some clippers that would somehow create the perfect hairstyle without me needing any skill whatsoever. Obviously they don’t exist, but what I did find was some low noise, cordless, hair inhaling clippers for not much more than £20 (not an ad). These clippers are meant for babies and young children and it even suggests that you can cut your child’s hair while they sleep because they are so quiet – I wouldn’t dare do that though. I read the reviews and thought that maybe these quieter clippers could work so I purchased them along with some cheap scissors.
I have no hairdressing experience so the thought of messing up James’ hair really bothered me, especially as my sister was able to do such a good job of it. I turned to YouTube and watched a video of a hairdresser using clippers on a 4 year olds hair, giving tips for parents if they were going to do it themselves at home. This 4 year old was incredibly still throughout which I knew James wouldn’t be. It did however give me a bit of confidence on how to use clippers so I felt like I wasn’t going to attempt cutting James’ hair completely blind.
Before tackling the clippers, on a couple of occasions when James was sitting in his highchair I asked him if Mummy could cut his hair. Obviously he said no, but I did manage to cut some of his fringe without him screaming the place down. He mainly tried to push my hands away from his hair, which made it quite hard to then try and cut it. I wanted him to get used to the idea of me cutting his hair and that it wasn’t going to hurt him.
A couple of days later we took the plunge and tackled his hair with the clippers. Adding to the pressure my sister was on holiday so if it did go wrong we wouldn’t be able to call upon her to fix it. We put his favourite TV programme on and he sat on my husband’s lap. The first guard I put on the clippers was 3mm and it was too short, I had visions of having to shave his head like that all over, so quickly changed it to 6mm. Although James was struggling and you could see he wasn’t enjoying the experience he wasn’t as bad as he has been in the past. The main problem I had was I needed to do it quickly because I knew he wouldn’t tolerate it for long, but when you have no experience of using clippers it’s hard to do it quickly because you need to think about what you are doing. I started with around his ears and this seemed to look ok, which gave me the confidence to do the back of his head. We got to the point where there was quite a visible line and I needed to figure out how to blend it in. Out came the scissors as I hacked my way through his mop of hair, always keeping on the side of caution. I could see quite visible lines of where I had cut his hair and how it stood out from the hair I hadn’t yet cut.
It was clear James wasn’t going to put up with this for much longer. He wasn’t screaming anywhere near as bad as he usually does but he wasn’t happy about it. I was quite horrified by parts of the hair that I had cut and afterwards I felt bad for him. He definitely seemed to find it less traumatic with me cutting his hair which is a big improvement, in fact the worst part was showering him afterwards to get the hair off his body. He did not like that!
My husband wondered whether we needed to take him to a salon to sort his hair out but in the end we decided although it wasn’t his best haircut, it wasn’t that bad. If we look at the positives, James reacted better to me cutting his hair and although I’m by no stretch a professional I did it and it’s not that bad. I can look back at it now and see how I would have cut more off the top of his hair to try and blend it in more, but I hadn’t done this before and it was a first attempt. Hopefully next time I will get a better result!