Weekly Column: The Big Cut

©Stephenie Freeman

I didn’t realize it at the time, but I was holding my breath.

“Okay, Mom. You ready?”

Due to the breath holding, I found I was unable to speak. I simply nodded.

All I heard was the “snip” of the scissors. I felt a lump forming somewhere in my throat and was embarrassed by the amount of emotion that was bubbling up seemingly out of nowhere.

I mean, it was just a haircut. No big deal. Right?

Wrong. When your baby is getting all of his curls cut off, life feels like it will never be the same.

The Monkey had had a haircut before, but it had always been just a trim. We had already had the ceremonial “first haircut” where I had received the lock of his baby hair for the scrapbook. I had made it through the whole process, camera in hand, with no emotion whatsoever.

Some babies are born with lots of hair, but not my Monkey. He was just about as bald as they come. When I held him for the first time, it was his cue bald head that I smelled and kissed and rubbed my cheek against. I bonded with his bald head right away. I would have been just fine if his head had stayed bald forever or if not forever, at least through his preschool years.

Lucky for me, his hair was slow to grow. Over time it grew into a surfer boy style—blond with just enough curl and shagginess to give him that “I just stepped off the beach” look—so we were able to get away with only a trim for the first four years of his life.

Recently things had started to change. After my husband asked me if I was going to do anything about his mullet and the dentist calling him a girl three times, I decided that I had put it off long enough.

I walked into the salon feeling that I was finally prepared for the Big Cut until the stylist asked, “You sure Mom? Ready for the big boy cut?”

I couldn’t help myself. My hormones started to ooze out of my pores and I felt the urge to scream. “No, I’m not okay! He’s enrolling for Pre-K, can sing the whole alphabet without skipping any letters, counts to 10 in Spanish, and eats with real utensils. Now this? This is all moving too fast! I’m not ready. I’m just not ready!”

But that’s not what came out of my mouth. Instead, I just smiled, nodded, and held up a copy of Us Weekly to whimper behind.

There’s something about the big boy haircut that changes things. It’s a sudden reality shift. The world stops rotating and everything you knew feels different. Somewhere deep inside, my uterus began to ache. Your baby is becoming a big boy.

I hadn’t had this reaction with my first son. A haircut was just a haircut and aside from his projectile vomiting anytime the stylist got near his head with a pair of scissors it was really no big deal.

This was different. This was my baby. My last baby. And here I was purposely turning him into a big boy. I felt like reaching inside my body and untying my fallopian tubes in a preposterous attempt to get those bald-headed baby moments back.

I’ll admit, when it was all said and done he looked pretty darn cute and even though he had abruptly aged right before my eyes, I could still see my baby hiding somewhere inside. I relaxed and tipped the stylist not nearly enough for putting up with the two of us.

The Monkey sat admiring himself in the mirror, obviously pleased with the change. It made me feel better knowing that even though I felt like my left arm had been cut off my son was okay with the transformation. There was a sudden lunge as the world started to rotate again.

Now if I can just keep him from growing so he’ll stay just the right size to still fit perfectly in my lap, everything will be just fine.

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