Friday, July 11, 2014

Haircuts—Part II

     Jaren must take after me. Not long ago, he gave himself a haircut (see my prior related Haircuts essay). When I say “haircut” I mean it in the loosest sense, for he didn't cut it for style (at least none that I can decipher) or because it was in need of a cut (it was perhaps three-eighths of an inch long throughout at the time), but because he was apparently bored or curious or just wanted to see what would happen.
     Here's what happened: He took a child's safety scissors into his bedroom. He sat on his bed. With his dominant left hand, he placed the scissors blades as flat and close to his scalp as possible. Without benefit of a mirror, he snipped away at random tufts where his left hand could reach and feel comfortable. And he continued to snip until he felt he had snipped enough. (Why does the sun rise? Who knows?)
     When Deanne came in, he had already hidden the evidence (the scissors, not the mangy bald spots). She asked him what happened?  He said nothing. Through stifled smirks and snorts she asked what happened to your hair? He said nothing? She said why are there bald spots all over? That was when—the only time it ever really happens—he got real quiet. “I pulled them out,” he said.
     Deanne gave him time out for the rest of the week not so much for cutting his hair, but for lying. I came home to Deanne's smirks; she didn't tell me what had happened, not wanting to spoil my surprise, I guess, but instead said, “Jaren's in time out; go see him yourself.” So I went in, cheeks tightening and lips pulling back involuntarily, but I forced them forward to convey seriousness. Why'd you do it? I asked. No reason he said.
     This has become such a common refrain in our household, which he learned from Braden, I'm sick of it. It's their equivalent of pleading guilty as charged and throwing themselves on our mercy—usually a good move with Deanne, but seldom with me. But to them it beats telling a dumb truth such as, “Because I was bored,” or “I had nothing better to do,” or “I thought it would be fun”—to which they know they'll receive mocks and ridicules, which can be sort of fun for us. But by pleading “no reason,” I'm forced to discipline which I hate (See my prior Discipline (Vengeance) essay regarding.)
     Most noticeable was a bald white strip from an inch above his forehead to the north pole peak of his noggin, two and a quarter inches long by a half—inch wide. It looked sort-of like someone had taken a strip of tape, pressed it flat to his hair, then ripped away—all the attached hair plucked out by the roots. Or perhaps more accurately, as if someone had shaved the area neat for some medical (or demented) purpose.
     Another denuded area ran from his left side burn to over two inches above his ear, four and quarter inches long by a quarter inch wide. In truth, this second strip alone would have looked a bit punk (as in rock—the musical genre, not the mineral), but combined with the dopey center stripe the overall effect was merely comical IMHO (as in “In My Honest Opinion” not “Individual Motives Harmonize Occasionally”—a revision capitalist theory that suggests Adam Smith's 'invisible hand' sometimes works for the overall good, but mostly only for the super wealthy.)
     Besides the two aforementioned blotches of exposed lard-white scalp there were a couple of garden-variety “rat-bite” patches, the size of a dime and a penny, that weren't as short or noticeable.
     What to do?  Buzz the entire scalp and make him look like a Michael Jordan wannabe? “Punk” the rest of his hair to match?  Let it be? Jaren loves haircuts (duh!) so rewarding his misbehavior with another haircut would just encourage more misbehavior (duh!) The imbecile center strip was so dumb-looking, I feared any additional punking would just worsen things.  Since Jaren should suffer for his wrongdoing (playing with scissors and lying), not us, I decided we'd let it be (and wait to buzz the rest of his hair to match after his bald patches had grown out some).
     The odd thing was, in the coming weeks not a single person in Summer Fun or church commented to him or us about his new look—such a disappointment because I had been (secretly) anticipating such feedback. In desperation, I finally shared my bemusement with church friends who were so polite—I guess because they didn't want Jaren to feel self-conscious—that they didn't share much in my revelry.
     When Deanne was about Jaren's age, she'd gotten so sick of everyone commenting about her long, beautiful eyelashes (that curl up naturally) that she got a pair of scissors and snipped them off (so Jaren must take after her, too). Dirty lickin's and scoldings—she could have poked her eyeballs out—followed, stiff consequences for her ill-advised actions. 
     At some point in my hilarities I wondered should I be concerned? Did Jaren's haircutting rise to the level of self mutilation? But then, it couldn't have hurt, I reasoned. In fact, it must've been pleasurable for him to have cut so much. I supposed then that it was akin to marking one's skin with a pen, paint, or markers—something everyone's done at one time or another, all temporary, no harm done.
     The sad thing is I know that I'll miss such nonsense later when they've all grown older and wiser.

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