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My son, Joshua, has always had wonderful thick hair that any mother would love. I’d encouraged him to keep it long and the back was down well over his collar.

We moved here last fall after separating from my husband, so about 4 months ago I took him to a small barber shop just a couple of blocks from where we live. It was just a small place with one barber chair and one hairdresser chair. The day we went the barber was away so the young girl took Joshua and gave him an excellent trim. I was quite impressed. When it comes to talking to hairdressers I know the jargon, but barbers as it turned out are different.

Anyway, a week ago Josh told me he was getting teased because he looked like a girl. The guys found out he’d got his hair cut by “the woman” instead of the barber so Joshua said he wanted it cut short. I was heartbroken but after a lot of discussion I reluctantly agreed.

Like I said I was impressed by the cut the girl gave him so I decided to make an appointment to get my own hair trimmed at the same time. I desperately needed one. My hair was about 6 inches below my shoulders and I’d coloured it for some years. It had become very dry at the ends so a good cut was long overdue. Something a bit shorter would do it good.

Joshua headed straight for the barber’s chair. The girl was just finishing up at the cash with her last customer. As the guy wrapped the capped around him he asked how to cut it. Now you have to realize I had treasured his hair for years so having to give the instruction to cut it short was very traumatic for me. I wanted to appear enthusiastic and supportive of this event so I announced, ” We’ve decided we need short hair for the summer.” Joshua showed his enthusiasm.

He flicked his comb through his hair and asked, “Do you want everything clipped short, like one length all over or tapered more on top?” I was confused a bit wondering if he had actually said how short he was planning to cut it. I replied, “Is that easier to look after?”

“Sure! If you want! I can make it as easy to look after as you like! Do everything real short?” His hair had required a lot of care but if we were cutting it I figured carefree would be a good choice. Besides tapering sounded like something girls did. I nodded “Sure! We all can use carefree!”

The barber said nothing for a few moments as he unclogged his comb with Josh’s long hair then lifted the 4″ off the nape off his neck and asked again. “Keep this close here or leave some length?” I’d never prepared myself for all these questions, so I said simply, “Sure!” hoping that that answered the question but perhaps didn’t answer anything. He took the clippers from his shelf. Trying to keep the enthusiasm up I smiled, “We just want it short for the summer!” I was preparing myself to begin to see his lovely hair falling to the floor. The barber switched them on and waved them around to untangle the cord over Josh’s head. Then exclaimed, “Lets do it!” I smiled!

In that same instant he swept the clippers into the long hair right at his forehead and plowed straight to the back of his head. I was in shock! As he began a second sweep he addressed me saying, “You won’t have anything to look after this summer!” With the third sweep complete he rotated the chair so Josh faced directly to me. He had shaved everything right down to his scalp. There was nothing I could do. I had been unaware the girl had been standing beside me until she asked if I was ready. I kept glancing over at Josh as I sat down and by the time she had the cape around me the barber had shaved over half his head. He seemed to be enjoying it but he was going to look so different. Short hair was one thing but clipped bald was something else. Watching all his wonderful thick hair dropping around him filled me with a sense of guilt but I wanted to seem enthusiastic and said, “That’s going to be so easy to look after! You can watch mommy get her hair cut too!” But I was in fact upset and couldn’t think of anything.

The girl was asking me how I wanted it cut. “You said you want something easily to look after too?” My thoughts came back. I told her colouring it had caused a lot of damage at the ends. I’d stopped about 8 weeks ago and I wanted to get it back in shape for the summer. She smiled “You’re both going short this summer eh?” I had to agree. “I can go up to your collar – that would look nice. You want to get rid of damage? I could go shorter that would get rid of it all. I mean like take it short at your neck and around the sides. But like, I mean, it’s up to you if you just want it like not so short I can leave it longer.” I wasn’t sure just what she was talking about. Joshua was now getting down from the chair. He looked like a Kung Fu graduate. I never would have let the barber shave his hair so close had I known. I touched his head. I gasped. The girl was standing there. “So??….”

I was feeling so upset, “Yes! Just get rid of the damage!” I told her.

“Get it back to your normal condition!” I nodded. I looked back at Joshua. His scalp was so white. His wonderful hair gone! Everything!

Moments later I heard the clippers and felt her press them against my neck. Then in one sweep she went right up the back of my head. As she mowed through the back stroke by stroke she exclaimed, “This gets rid of all the bleach damage. Your hair will feel much better.” Huge lengths of my hair were dropping all around me. She asked, “Keep the top all one length?” I wasn’t sure but I was now upset and just wanted to leave. I certainly didn’t want her cutting anything shorter. I just nodded my head and said nothing.

With that she brought the clippers up the back again and over the top to my bangs. She laughed and promised not to go as short as my son’s. Telling me this was almost a half-inch long. I watched the long hair fall into my lap and the dark roots of my natural colour fringing every clump that fell

Josh’s father told us we looked like we belonged in a concentration camp.

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