My 9 year old kid has very shaggy, longish, Oasis-era hair, which he likes. He also likes skipping baths, which is currently grossing me out. I cannot fathom why someone who is a bit OCD about cleaning their hands and not touching dirty things can go without cleaning themselves regularly. Anyway, he likes his shag hair, and he asks me who his hair makes him look like, which gets to be a very boring game, because he doesn’t know who you are actually referring to, so you start off by saying “Liam Gallagher” and you think you must be a good, engaged parent, and that you should make it your job to extend your children’s cultural education, and so you must sit with him THIS VERY EVENING and watch Oasis music videos on youtube while you regale him with tales of your awkward/cool/embarrassing teenage self, and then maybe you could throw in a bit of Vanilla Ice, and MC Hammer, instead of becoming distracted by anthemic karaoke clips of “Let It Go” (which we all chip in to, to be totally fair, and we all sing very loudly, but I am the only one who consistently gets carried away and weeps a little bit) but then he asks you again who he looks like, and you say “Barry Manilow” which he seems satisfied with, and then he asks you again, and you say “Purdey, from The Avengers” which he seems very pleased by, and when you ask him again, you say “Donald Trump”. All in all, a good way to enliven the kind of game that makes you want to lie down in a darkened room. But I digress. His hair, which looks like this:
was all a bit too-shaggy and so he and I decided that I would give his fringe a trim to keep it out of his eyes, not an actual haircut at the barber’s, because he leaves there looking like a skinny, frightened shorn baby lamb with patches of pale, virgin skin and haunted eyes.
So last night, after a fine and quite large glass of Tiki sauvignon blanc, I decided in a wave of uncharacteristic and sudden enthusiasm that it was time to trim. So, I grabbed the only scissors that remain, the ones that have melted plastic handles because they were clearly involved in some sort of near-burning-the-house-down kind of scenario that I have no idea about, which is worrying, and I just stuck that lanky long fringe in-between my fingers like we all intuitively know how to do, right, because haircutting simply cannot be that hard, and I cut, cut, cut. Snip, snip, snip, while the hair kind of slid out of the unyielding scissors. But still I cut. And then stood back, ruffled the blunt, wonky fringe, and maybe I did a tiny little chuckle, then told him to look in the mirror.
And he began to cry.
OH MAN I RUINED HIS HAIR.
My haircutting skills are very, very non-existent, as it turns out, and I am not the best person for the job, and cutting fringes is actually more complicated than the hair-between-the-fingers-mime that you might do in a game of Charades. My tools were not really right, and no doubt the alcohol didn’t help. So then Mark looks up from his Discovery Channel show about mining for rubies in the Yukon and he gets mad at me and says that I can never do it again. And that I should have taken him to a barber. And I’m like
HOW IS THAT A HELPFUL OBSERVATION RIGHT NOW?
And so my son goes over to his father and they mutter together (once the tears have slowed) and they throw dark glances at me and I get all sulky and tell them that they are hurting my feelings. Which they do not respond to. Instead, they get a comb and start working out ways his hair could be brushed in place to cover the bits that now look a bit balding and wildly uneven. And then I try to stop myself from being a big baby because this is actually about my kid feeling ok about himself tomorrow at school. And that if he doesn’t and that if this bad hair thing translates into him feeling like a big loser, then it is MY FAULT. Mine, and those IKEA Scissors of Doom.
So this morning we tried to find some gel, but all I could find was some tousling beach-hair stuff to make your hair look like you just stepped out of the surf at Bondi, which wasn’t very helpful. I stuck it on anyway, and said we could make it go all shaggy again, but Barnaby just looked at me with deep, deep disappointment in his eyes and said
“I’ll go and ask Dad to comb it for me.”
Reader, I did fail my kid.
Here is a photo of me and Otis, who incidentally has the pox. Otis hasn’t yet been let down by me. There is still some light left in his eyes. He still thinks I could do a good job:
These two – it’s a matter of time.