Family Tradition

I always thought it would be fun to have a child with naturally curly hair. Of course, I pictured a little girl with dark curls who would let me style it and try new fun ideas. But, just my luck I ended up with 2 boys. My older son has stick straight hair. My younger son had really fine, ultra blond hair that slowly became wavy. It happened so slowly that one day when he was about 2 I realized my dream of a child with curly hair HAD come true. . . sort of. His hair isn’t so much curly as crazy. It’s thick and heavy and wavy. I’ve probably only truly combed it a handful of times. It doesn’t do much good — it always finds its way back to the way it’s most comfortable — wild.

So, this afternoon he was open to the idea of a trim and I capitalized on his willingness. I rounded up my haircutting scissors and comb, haircutting mini-cape and the black vinyl stool. As I was scooting the stool into the designated space between the kitchen and computer area, it dawned on me that I was continuing a sweet, although some might say quirky, tradition. You see my grandpa was the designated hair cutter in our family. I asked my mom what the back story was on how he came to hold that position and she said it was because he’s always just done it. He cut hair for uncles, sons, grandsons, and at least one granddaughter — Me!

Growing up we lived next door to my grandparents. Every Sunday we (meaning up to 16 of us kids and grandkids) had dinner at their house right after church. Often times, after dinner, someone decided it was time for a haircut and that person would go into my grandpa’s closet and reach past his candy stash to the haircutting set. Then someone would grab the vinyl stool from the kitchen bar and plop it in its designated spot — next to the fireplace by the front door in front of the floor to ceiling mirror. The haircutee might communicate a few thoughts on style and then my grandpa would get to work. Sometimes there would be a line-up for haircuts and even I was a repeat customer. It was always understood that after your haircut, you would also be responsible to put the haircutting kit back, brush the hair off the stool and vacuum up all the hair.

Thinking back, I put a tremendous amount of trust into my grandpa’s hands! I was a teenage girl for crying out loud! But I was confident in his ability to make my hair look the way I wanted it to look. Fortunately the way I wanted it to look was super short and not too different from all the men’s cuts that he was accustomed to giving! This picture is one that I particularly remember as being an extremely good hair day. This was Christmas Eve 1988.

When my grandparents downsized, it was the same year that my husband and I bought our property and I specially requested the vinyl stools. Someday I’ll get around to reupholstering them and reconditioning the wood. But for now they still make the perfect barber chair. Now to train my kids to clean up the mess!

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