Monday, February 13, 2012

Frugal Mommy - Experiments in Haircutting

Confession time: when I was growing up, I rarely went to a hairdresser.  My elaborate style (aka chin length blunt cut with bangs) was regularly maintained by my mom, on a folding chair, in the bathroom.  And when I got older, I usually cut my own bangs, sometimes it worked, and other times I was reminded that hair shrinks a bit when it dries (and my bangs looked a bit odd).  So it seemed like a real luxury when I moved out and went to University to actually pay someone else to cut my hair.  I bounced around between different salons, and ended up taking my meager student budget for haircuts and going to one of those franchise salons that doesn't take appointments and you never get the same hairdresser twice.  Honestly, it was always a bit of a gamble, sometimes you got a good haircut, sometimes... not so much.  Thankfully now that I am "all grown up" (haha) I have a great stylist at a nearby salon, and she knows my hair well enough that she can make suggestions about how I might want to consider cutting & styling it.  My husband and son, on the other hand, still visit the franchise salons, and I've watched them have their hair cut often enough to think "I really should be able to do that myself".

The culprit...
When my son was younger, he went through a phase where he thought that hairdressers were out to get him, and that any encounter with a spray bottle full of water, a comb, and a pair of scissors, was akin to being followed down a dark alley by a group of thugs.  Scream, and run away was pretty much his tactic.  So much so, that we were kicked out of a number of haircutting establishments because they just did not feel safe trying to cut the hair of a child that would kick, scream, twist, and squirm trying to get away from what he perceived to be torture of the worst kind.  So I did what any good mama would do, I bought my own set of torture implements (aka, clippers, cape, scissors, comb...) and decided that we would just cut his hair at home.  Yeah... that idea didn't quite pan out.  We would convince him that clippers would get the job done faster... bribe him with candy and toys (side note: lollipops consumed during haircuts will inevitably get hair stuck to them and become another source of aggravation), and he would sit still for about 5 seconds until the clippers shaved off just enough hair that you couldn't just quit, you had to finish the job.  Then he'd scream bloody murder and you'd have to whip out the scissors and try to cut his hair that way.  It was AWFUL.

So we started taking him to a nearby salon that specialized in kids haircuts.  He was coddled with TV, video games, toys, chairs that look like racecars, etc.  He still screamed and squirmed but at least he was in the capable hands of stylists that were used to cutting kids hair under these conditions.  It was pricey, but I considered it to be worthwhile because I could step out of the role of Terrible Mommy with the Scissors/Clippers.  Eventually, he stopped being so upset at haircuts, even looking forward to the balloon he would get at the end, he would even let them use the clippers!  Once we got to a time when there were no more tears, we decided to start taking him somewhere less expensive.  And then I got to thinking, I have these fantastic clippers at home, and could really just skip the driving/waiting/paying bit, and just do this myself.  So, the other day, I popped A Bug's Life into the DVD player, rolled up the livingroom rug, and put my son on a chair in the middle of the room.  He was OK with this, as I told him I'd pay him some money for his piggy bank (as I'd be saving $12 on a haircut elsewhere).  All through the haircut he kept cringing, whining and complaining about the clippers "hurting".  I thought this was ridiculous, after all, they are just clippers!  No sharp blades risking contact with skin, plastic guides in place to make sure I didn't cut anything too short, everything was as it should be.  So we (he) powered through.

After the haircut turned out pretty neat & tidy (for a beginner like me), my husband suggested I try cutting his hair too.  So, I rolled up the rug again, plugged in the clippers, and wouldn't you know it, he is grimacing and complaining too that the clippers hurt!  So it turns out that my "at home haircut set" (which I bought on clearance at a big box store) either wasn't a quality set, or was in some way defective, as a closer examination revealed that the metal plate at the end of the clippers (where the blade cuts against) kept getting loose and the hair it was supposed to cut, ended up getting pinched and pulled.  So, it seems that despite my best intentions, it's possible that the fear of hair clippers that my son still fights, was worsened by my attempts to try and make things better and easier for all of us.  The moral of the story?  Cheaper is not always better... I will be shopping for a new hair clipper, and I hope that when I find one that works well, the cost of it will be offset by the fact I will be able to save money by cutting my son's and husband's hair at home again.  Without the screaming.

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