When Elliott appeared the other day sporting his mother's hat, I'm thankful I was no longer sitting on the tall fence of indecision about getting the boy a haircut, because this snapshot would have undoubtedly caused me to jump. The truth is, we had made the decision earlier in the week to get his hair cut today. I took Elliott to the park last Sunday where we ran into another father spending some time with his daughter. His little girl joined Elliott at the top of the playground slide and the father, concerned his daughter would try to jump ahead of Elliott for a turn, told her to "let him go first". Then he did a double take and quickly apologized. "I'm sorry, I mean her," he said. Now Elliott has been confused on many occasions for a girl. But this man actually studied Elliott pretty close and upon further review, he determined he was a she. It was at that moment a haircut became a part of Elliott's immediate future.
So Katie went to work finding a place that could give our boy his first trim. She found a salon that specialized in children's haircuts, especially a tot's first cut. They had cars and planes and trains and endless other transportation simulators that the kids sat in for what to them must seem like major surgery. They had DVD players at every station and the walls were covered with cartoon characters familiar to every kid who came through the doors. When adults have surgery, we are numbed or put to sleep to endure the procedure. With kids, you just use a heavy dose of diversion.
I had hopes the environment would actually work to make the experience empty of trauma for both Elliott and mama. No such luck. If the haircut had been given on the set of "A Nightmare on Elm Street" with Freddie Kruger himself running around with bloodied weapons in hand, the moment would have been no more horrific. Elliott was seated high off the ground in a jet airplane. He doesn't like his feet off the ground, much like his dad, so that was a bad place to start. Then came the gown. Then came unfamiliar machinery vibrating against his head. Add in he has the emotional stamina of boy who isn't yet two and you have all the ingredients for a toddler sized disaster.
Mom struggled watching her little baby's curls removed, the last strands of denial left to aid us in pretending our baby wouldn't grow up. As his locks and mama's tears fell to the floor, a little boy slowly appeared in that jet. For me, I saw all signs of girl fade just as fast as the traces of baby. And for that, this day brought me nothing but joy. Don't get me wrong, I love girls, I just don't want my little boy to be one.