ultimate heartbreak

As I’ve mentioned before, we give out lollipops as bribes for children that sit still and don’t cry for their haircuts. We also have stickers and temporary tattoos, but those don’t have quite the draw that free candy does.

However, I never realized how important the candy was until the day we ran out.

Repeat customers have come to expect the treat at the end. Often, as soon as they get out of the chair, they run to the counter where we keep the stash. One child did exactly this, but when there was nothing there, his little heart broke. I saw it, my coworkers saw it, his parents saw it, everyone in the salon saw it. Nay, felt it. That child’s world had just ended. He sat through a haircut, perfectly still and not making a peep, and all for nothing. NOTHING! His whole world was a lie. Never would he enjoy getting a haircut again.

In that moment, none of these words were expressed, but we could see it all on his little face. He didn’t cry. No, he took a deep breath and silently walked away. But it was such a heavy moment that I wouldn’t be surprised if he went home and wept quietly into his pillow.

None of us ever wanted to repeat that moment, so we made sure to restock on the candy as soon as possible.


Scooby-Doo pajamas

There is no perfect way to time the haircut of a toddler. Before a nap, after a nap, random times – there’s just no telling when the child will be agreeable. One parent tried a new approach: during the nap. The child was awake, but only just so. He was still in his Scooby-Doo pajamas even.

However, the kid was not having it. He didn’t scream, but he did that fussy, half cry that very sleepy children do. He also did lots of wriggling and hiding. At one point, one of my coworkers came over to help hold him still. That’s when the dad decided the haircut was “good enough” and stopped it. The cut was far from perfect, but not bad for a wiggling 2 year old.

The next day, apparently the child was in a better mood, so the dad decided to try again. He was still wiggly (because he is still a 2-year old), but he wasn’t in his pjs at least, so I got to give him a better haircut. Sometimes it takes multiple tries to get it right.

the shrieking child

A little boy in my coworker’s chair did not want his hair cut. He was screaming and crying the whole time, including that wonderful eardrum splitting, high-pitched shriek that children of a certain age can all do. He did that for probably half an hour, since his mom decided that he needed a haircut that day. The rest of us were trying to go about our business, but I know that for me anyway, concentration was completely shot.

One of the other customers in the salon was another very young boy. Unlike his peer, however, he kept perfectly silent. Maybe he felt that the first boy had already overused the screaming shtick, but he was giving him a “what the heck?” look. When boy #2 finished, he was given a lollipop.

Boy #1’s mom looked up and said “Hey can we have one of those?” The entire salon erupted in laughter. Unfortunately, the lollipop didn’t work, so our respite from the shrieking was only temporary.

meeting santa

I was cutting the hair of a 3 year old boy. I commented to his mom that he was was sitting very still, and she told me about how he had just come from seeing Santa at the mall. Rather than tell him his xmas wishes, or scream in terror, the little boy just went ahead and stuck his finger up Santa’s nose. And that’s when they snapped the picture.

One the one hand, I’m glad that didn’t happen to me, and on the other, I want to see that picture because just the idea of it is hilarious.

use your words

A very young child was supposed to get his hair cut, but he was crying, screaming, squirming, and generally being an 18-month old. Though he was sitting on his father’s lap, he was being very physical. He was actively kicking me, grabbing my hand and scissors as I tried to cut his hair (which is why I didn’t use my sharpest blades), and still screaming. I even pointed out to the father, who – again – was sitting in the chair with his son, that the baby was being very difficult, and were he any bigger, I would actually be getting hurt.

The father continued holding the child just enough that he wouldn’t fall off and said “Hey Mister, you’re forgetting your manners.” He made no attempt to restrain the child, even though there was threat of physical harm to both me and the baby. The child kicked and screamed during the entire haircut, which was definitely not my best work because of all the aforementioned wriggling. Eventually the father gave in and decided that I couldn’t do more than I already had. (Or maybe it was just taking too long.) He still never tried to restrain the child, nor stop him any more than reminding the baby about his manners. Also, he never apologized for making his son sit through a haircut even though it was clearly naptime and / or the child was too young.  He only joked that “he’s only acting like this because his mom is here.” His mom, incidentally, was waiting in the lobby, several feet away and out of sight of the child.


After they left, several of my coworkers and their clients expressed amazement, relief, etc. that the screaming child was finally gone. (My coworkers were just glad they didn’t have to deal with him.)

Another too young

I’ve said before that some kids are just too young to get their hair cut. Yes, we are professionals, and cutting children’s hair is part of our job, but some (like me) don’t have children of our own and have little exposure to other people’s children, so we are not trained to handle kids that just won’t sit still, especially around sharp objects.

One such child came in the other day. He was two years old, and already crying by the time he sat in my chair. Actually, by the time his father sat in my chair and held the little boy.  And I mean held because the boy would not stay still. He was using his feet to push off his father, using his hands to cover his face (and hair), and wriggling away towards his mother.

I got the majority of the length off (the parents insisted I use scissors and not clippers), but I told them I didn’t want to cut around his ears, as my shears are very sharp and his tender little ears were moving around quite a bit, even with both parents holding him down. They insisted, however, even using my most hated phrase “I’ll tip you well for your time.” (They never do – a dollar is not what I consider a good tip.) So I gave in, and I applied some force of my own to hold the child still as I very carefully cut around his ears.

Then he whipped his head to the right. I was standing to his right, with my shears open, right at what turned out to be eye level. Luckily I was semi-prepared for such a movement and was able to pull my shears away just in time. But I still came very close to stabbing a 2-year old child in the eye with my very sharp (and expensive) scissors. After that, I refused to cut any more. The cut was far from perfect, but it was the best I could do with a screaming, moving, toddler. And that last cut was too close for comfort. I told the parents very plainly that I was not doing any more. They tried to convince me, acknowledging that it was nearly impossible (and dangerous), and trying to bribe me with tips again. I flat out refused and assured them that whatever tip they gave me would never cover the trauma of accidentally hurting a child, which is more of a possibility with their son than I had ever encountered before. They were dismayed, but finally gave in. Their son’s hair didn’t look terrible, it was just a little bit longer around the ears. But you know what? His vision remained in tact.

I stand by my decision. Sure, there is a toddler out there with a not-quite-finished haircut, but I will defend myself and face any repercussions, rather than risk mortally injuring a young child. Though that would teach the parents when too young really means too young…



(kidding about that last line, of course.)

big hair

I had an 11-year old girl sit in my chair, and the only thing I could say was “wow.” She had hair like this:


I said “what are we going to do with all this hair ‽ “

“Just make it… smaller.”

She liked the length, which was most of the way down her back. She just didn’t like the outward growth. So I gave her the tiniest trim on the ends and then went to work with my thinning shears. It took me over an hour, but I got that girl’s hair down to a manageable size. I also showed her how to use a diffuser to dry her hair, and what products to put in it to keep the frizz down.

I had no idea what an impact I would make, but the little girl was so happy, and her mom was almost in tears. All I did was cut her hair, but they made me feel like I cured an illness.