After a full day at school yesterday and a visit to Occupational Therapy, I took Joshua to my hairdresser for his haircut. You should know that Joshua has never liked having his haircut : as a young boy, we were thrown out of a local barber’s when the hairdresser cut her finger, in trying to negotiate her customer who was waving his hands around and moving his head from side to side, while protesting loudly. She refused to continue, even though his hair cut was only half complete. So I took Joshua to my own hairdresser’s to beg her to finish off his incomplete haircut.
Joshua cried, screamed and hated the experience, despite reassurances that she was not going to hurt him. We continued in that way for several years, with Joshua sitting on my knee while I clamped his arms down. But this was difficult for my hairdresser, stressful for me and most importantly, upsetting for Joshua. I did not like restraining him in this way and so we resorted to annual haircuts to minimise the agony.
Then we arrived at a new solution and I bought my hairdresser’s old professional clippers from her and my husband and I began to clip his hair at home. I would sit on a kitchen chair with Joshua on my knee, while my husband would painstakingly shave his head. It meant his hair was neat – but was never stylish – and we cut it so short that this was a rare trauma. We learned that while he objected during the process, he enjoyed looking at himself in the mirror afterwards and we did not have the humiliation of being in a public place. He gradually got better behaved, less wriggly and with less ‘No, no, no’s’.
We reached a point a couple of years ago when I decided, I cannot honestly recall why now, to give the salon another try. Now a teenager, it was impossible to sit him on my knee as he was taller than me, so I sat opposite him and held his hands and whispered reassurances. It took my brave hairdresser to do the best she could with clippers and scissors, while her kind colleague held Joshua’s head. We would take over the salon at the end of the day and turn the music up loud and it worked. Gradually Joshua stopped complaining as he arrived at the salon and he would smile as he walked in and he complained less and he needed less holding down.
Yesterday was a triumph : the best haircut he has ever had – a real style rather than a trim – which makes him look like a real teenager.I did not need to restrain Joshua at all, I did not even sit with him, but wandered around the salon, leaving it to the team of professionals. The music was loud and Joshua enjoyed the attention of four ladies working in the salon and the mirrors and bright lights. They were a fast, efficient team and we were all done within 15 minutes and no screaming from anyone. It was a perfect instance of perseverence from us all and a kind tolerance of Joshua’s dislike and mistrust of the process. Who knows, next time he might even enjoy the experience!