It was just about time for Mass to begin one Sunday morning in our crowded church when my 3-year-old grandson was plopped into my lap as his parents went on down the aisle seeking seats for their other children. He nestled down facing the front of the church as I gave him a hug from behind.
Within minutes he turned to smile at me, and I really did a double take. He had a bald spot about four inches wide and three inches deep from his forehead back with noticeable slices and snips in his hair in other locations on his head.
I began to laugh silently as I realized that our grandson had followed my family tradition. He had obviously given himself a haircut.
Later his mom explained that she had told him on Friday that she had made an appointment for him and his little brother to get their hair cut so they could get their pictures taken at the photographers the next week.
He absorbed that news and went off to play. Little did she know he was going to play barber.
Just a little later she went upstairs and found a trail of hair to the bedroom where she found him happily whacking away.
After the hair was swept up and the scolding was over, someone asked him why he had cut his hair off. He folded his arms and solemnly replied, “I wanted to look like Uncle Bill.”
Unfortunately perhaps, Uncle Bill is the one who shaves his head.
At least Uncle Bill was happy about it. When I told my husband the why of the haircut, he called Uncle Bill who knew all about it and informed him, “You can’t play with our grandson anymore.” He’s still laughing.
I’ve tried to remember if any of our children ever cut their own hair. I don’t think any of the boys ever did, but those were the days when crew cuts were in style, and fathers of many boys developed barbering skills with home-owned shears. If the kids did cut their hair no one could ever tell it.
I do remember taking one of the girls, the 3-year-old grandson’s mother as a matter of fact, to Aunt Pat who was a beautician in New Madison then. It seems to me the reason for the quick trip was hair that was cut unevenly. As my daughter remembers it, I was the one who did the cutting. That’s possible, I suppose. One of my family’s favorite stories concerned the time I played barber.
My mom had gone to church, leaving me in my father’s capable and loving hands. He firmly believed that a quiet child is a good child. I was very quiet.
First I got Mom’s scissors, then I got our dog, a fox terrier named Pal who was my constant companion when I was three years old. Apparently I practiced on my uncomplaining “Pal” until she looked like she had terminal mange.
Then I turned the scissors on myself. My mother spent hours training my long hair into Shirley Temple curls which were the in-thing for little girls then. I never touched the curls. Like my grandson, I took a wide swath about four inches wide and three inches deep from my forehead back.
So I sported a partial crew cut on top in front with long curls behind until the top was finally long enough for bangs. For some reason the style never caught on. Maybe because Moms control three-year-old’s haircuts. At least they do most of the time.
EDITOR’S NOTE: This column was first published in the Daily Advocate on Feb. 18, 1999.