On Saturday, I cut all the boys' hair, including my husband's. Cutting my husband's hair is one of those things that sounds really romantic in theory. I orbit around his head, periodically bending over to where he would meet my eye, but I'm squinting just to the right and left of his gaze, checking for evenness and effect.
The problem I've realized is that boys, at least the five boys who dominate my life, are very particular about their hair. They have strong ideas about what looks good, and what minuscule irregularities might ruin the next month for them.
They get up from the chair, to glance at themselves in the mirror and see how things are going. They rub their palms over the backs of their necks, and brush hair off onto the floor. And there is a lot of hair, so very much hair, that the romantic prospects of giving my husband a haircut, much like the romantic prospects of making out on the beach, are over-shadowed by logistics that leave you irritable, and itchy all over.
Plus I accidentally cut the back of my husband's neck with the clippers.
Inevitably, one of the boys doesn't want his hair cut at all--and it's the boy with chronically dirty ears, the one whose pants are always too short, the one who most needs a decent haircut, and all the help his mother can give him, really.
I've done the calculation to see what it would cost to send them all to Greatclips--and for five heads, it's about fifty bucks a month, which is about $600 a year in hair-cuts, which is so not in the budget. So there's nothing to do but stand there wagging the fiskers over the boy's head, reigning in tempting digressions about the miseries of pre-adolescent hygiene.
I wish I could say a prayer for serenity, gently squeeze the boy's shoulder to let him know that I love him, but that we've got business to accomplish, and he's going to cooperate. But when the kid keeps wiggling towards the pointed end of your scissors, and you have said, "STILL!" so many times you've quit caring whether or not he gets hurt, it's really best to blow the joint before you earn fifteen minutes of the most unflattering kind of fame.
I only have to run for two minutes or so, before I'm in the middle of nowhere. I cross a creek lined with the white trunks of Sycamore trees that have dropped their leaves, and then I'm in the open fields. The corn and soybeans have been taken in, so the brown grasses on either side of the road form the tallest line on the horizon. One could feel overwhelmed by such a desolate landscape, or overjoyed by its openness. I was inclined to feel both that day.
Having appreciated the wonders of creation outside my home, I could think more kindly about the wonders of creation within it. Just kids, back there. Just normal kids, doing normal stuff--being caught up in legos, and not wanting to take baths or get their hair cut. Funny kids, with their own ever-evolving rebellions and modes of escape. Hot and cold kids who, for better or worse, have much in common with their mother.
In fact, it occurred to me, that their mother was the common denominator in all five miserable haircuts administered that afternoon. Perhaps, when that many people are complaining, I can't just blame it on their vanity or immaturity or their male-ness. Maybe I really am not the hairdresser I thought I was.