Thursday, March 04, 2010

Crystal Clear: Mom, son have hair-raising experience

Since I stopped straightening my hair three years ago, I have been known by my hair. Those who don't know me through my husband or son know me as "the lady with the big hair" or "the lady with the afro." And, until a few weeks ago, my son was following in my footsteps.

His hair was a mixture of several textures, with a thick Mohawk-like patch of curly hair on top. He was born with a lot of hair, and over the past year, it had only gotten longer; well, more accurately, bigger. Much like my hair, it refused to be tamed. It was as if his hair had its own identity, and I liked it that way. His hair made pick-up time at the day care easy, too. If his usual providers were gone for the day, he was easy to identify.

"He's the kid with the crazy hair," I'd say.

But that was then.

One week after his first birthday, he had his first trip to the barbershop. He sat on Dad's lap - my little one looked tiny in the huge chair - and the barber covered his clothes with a cape. The first part of the haircut was easy - the barber shaped the baby's "Mohawk" with scissors. That is where I thought the haircut would end; unfortunately, I was wrong.

Next, came the clippers. For about half an hour, the barber clipped, shaped and cut my baby's hair. To my son's credit, he sat in dad's lap quietly the entire time. But at the end of the haircut, I couldn't help but notice the mounds of hair on the floor. And as the barber swept the hair away, it signaled to me the end of my son's baby-dom.

When I posted photos of the haircut online that night, a friend of mine remarked that she doesn't understand why moms are so reticent to have their sons' hair cut. For me, the reason was two-fold. The big, often wild, hair was one of those things that tied him to me. When I walked into a room with him, it was clear that we were mother and son. But now that his hair is cut more like Dad's, we'd lost that bond.

His hair was also a symbol of his growing up. I know he has to grow up, and I look forward to when he is talking, playing sports and going to school. But as the hair was swept away, I felt like a part of his identity and a part of his childhood innocence was being swept away, as well.

I know that although that part of our bond may now be gone, we still share something that only mothers can share with their sons. And now hair is something that bonds him and my husband - my husband now brushes our son's hair in the same methodical way in which he brushes his own.

I must admit, the haircut has grown on me, and now that it's already just a bit longer, I like it even more.

When some people go to a barber, they come out only a few dollars and a several strands of hair lighter.

But my son's change was more than that; he went in a baby and left a big boy.

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