The day was near perfect. As near to it as it’s been in a long time. In fact, the entire weekend had been really wonderful.
It started with slow morning sleeping in and making a late breakfast followed by an afternoon decision to spend the evening at Disneyland. Lottie refused to wear anything but her Elsa dress, which was completely fine by me.
By the time we got down there, it was already after 2pm. Both parks were very slow, the weather was perfect and traffic was light. It’s so rare that we have any extra money, that when we don’t have to say “no” to the kids, it makes it extra special. With gift cards from the holidays in hand, they both got to choose cool little toys and were ecstatic. They’re still small enough that small things are just as exciting as big things, so it makes it that much more special on the rare occasions when we can say “yes”. It’s moments like that I cherish- being able to give them what they ask for and seeing their eyes light up in amazement at the realization that this incredible thing will get to come home with them.
We met an exceptional cast member named Kenya who worked with the Fairy Godmothers in the Bibbity Bobbity Boutique who literally got on the ground to have a conversation with my two year old. She is one of the rare unicorns of Disneyland these days… the employee who loves working there as much as we love going. She truly made our evening and encouraged us to take our princess to see her sisters (the other princesses) at the Fantasy Faire before 7pm. We thanked her for her kindness and the magical moments she gave our kids and took her advice.
We went straight to the Fantasy Faire and were able to walk right into the princess experience with no wait. We met Cinderella, Aurora and Snow White. We have been through this attraction before, but this time was especially magical. I don’t know if it was because they were so slow, or because Lottie was wearing her Elsa costume, or if it was just because she is a genuinely sweet baby who loves her princesses, but this time, the princesses doted over her, talked to her quietly, having actual conversations and allowing her to soak up the moment with them.
When we were done, we headed to California Adventure to say hello to Elsa and Anna in Hollywood, after dancing, playing in the snow and waving to Olaf from a distance. The ladies of Arendelle were welcoming and perfect with her, played peek-a-boo and took a great deal of time with her. When she walked back to me and said goodbye, she waved and told them both she loved them, her face literally beaming with joy.
I know, I’m talking about Lottie’s experience more than Liam’s, but really, they both had an amazing day of dancing, playing, riding their favorite rides and just being at their home away from home. We are never unaware of the magic and how very lucky we are to be able to have these experiences.
They fell asleep on the drive home and we tucked them in all exhausted and happy, clutching their new treasures and dreamily whispering their “I love you”s.
The next morning, I woke with both excitement and sadness. It was a big day.
My son, who turned four in November last year, had never had a haircut. Not once. Not even a trim. His gorgeous curls cascaded down his back, almost two feet. When people met him, they automatically thought he was a girl. I didn’t mind, I understood it was because of his perfect locks and his inch-long eyelashes. When I would correct them, they would stand amazed, admiring that we never cut his hair and commenting about what a beautiful boy he was. Well, that’s all true, but it isn’t easy to get to that “perfect hair” state. It takes a bath, lots of conditioner, combing, leave-in conditioner, mousse and moisturizing gel and a lot of time, patience and a hard heart to push through and get the job done while he is sobbing in pain and frustration with having to sit still during the endeavour. Sometimes it would be perfect without having to do anything- other times, it would take 20 minutes or longer and eventually I’d just give up and tie it in a ponytail.
Those ponytails were damaging his hair. The product was damaging his hair. The pain I would make him endure and my begging him to just stand still and breathe because it would be over in a minute was damaging our relationship.
Then, one day, the last straw fell on top of a mountainous haystack; After a weekend of being kind of lazy and not brushing his hair because we didn’t go anywhere, I went to comb it through. I was armed with the standard tools; a squirt bottle of water, a comb, a brush, leave-in conditioner and mousse for curls. After a solid 5 minutes of him sobbing and the tangles not coming out, I opted for bath time instead so he could soak with the ultra-moisturizing conditioner on his head to see if that would help. I then tried to comb it through in the bath with the conditioner on it only to find, to my absolute horror, his hair was matted. Literally, matted. Like a dog who needed to be sheared in the heat of summer. My child with the perfect hair looked like a neglected angora rabbit and it had only been 2 days of leaving it to its own devices. I didn’t want to cut them out, so I told him I was so sorry, but we had to get the nasty tangles out and it would be hard, but it would be okay. He sort of understood… until we began. 10 minutes and a bucket of tears later, we were done.
And I was done. The crazy lion mane needed to go.
I always said I would never cut his hair until he wanted to. That it had to be his choice, not mine. If he ever said, “I want short hair” I’d do it without a thought, but anytime I asked if he wanted to, he always screamed “No!!! I need my hair long!” But it was time. I felt selfish for keeping it long. For allowing him to endure that kind of pain. I really did believe I was keeping it long for him, but it was hurting him and I was looking past that because I loved it so much. I had to be honest with myself- Yes, it was for him, but it was also for me and it was no longer fair.
So, I found the coolest hair salon I could find for a kid because my thought was, if we are going to do this- we’re doing it big, we’re doing it right and we’ll make it as fun as possible.
The place was great. They had little cars, fire trucks, spaceships and racecar seats that were placed in front of TV screens playing popular kids shows, Mickey Mouse Club music playing throughout, a huge child’s play area in the middle of the room and a wall full of professional, child-safe, organic products for all hair types.
They called him back and he was able to choose which “ride” he wanted. He chose a taxi.
She began separating his hair and working on brushing it through, which, he had no problem with even though she had to work out several snarls just to section it off properly.
She made a tiny ponytail and then, very ceremoniously and sweetly, chopped it off and handed it to me. I was busy snapping pictures, but tried my best to stay in the moment long enough to truly realize the importance of what just happened.
Liam’s reaction to seeing his ponytail in my hands was a quick gasp with saucer eyes, grabbing the back of his head, then with a big smile, saying “what?!?! My ponytail is cut off!!” I asked him if he was okay with that and he started giggling and looking at himself in the mirror. I took that as a yes. It was all okay.
She asked me what I was going for and I showed her the picture below. This was Liam when he was about 2 1/2, right before his hair was no longer easy to manage.
Long enough for a ponytail in the back, but short enough to style easily, barely needing a comb and short enough in the front to stay out of his eyes. She casually nodded and got to work. She was done really quickly, and Liam did amazing. He was still when she told him to be still, he was excited, he didn’t mind the scissors, the snipping or the disappearance of almost a foot of hair.
When it was all over, she styled it, put some product in it and taught me how to do it. She explained why his hair was so damaged and dry and shared with me the biology of curly hair and how it’s very different from straight hair, how it needs to be cared for differently and managed differently. She also backed up my decision to cut it, saying it would only have gotten worse because of how dry it was and that the dryness was directly related to the length and that his ultra-fine baby hair was still there.
She removed his apron and told him to look at the mirror. His expression was priceless and his reaction was even better.
“I look FABULOUS!”, he squealed.
I asked, “so you are happy with your short hair?”
He said, “Yes!! It’s GREAT! I LOVE IT!!”
He jumped out of his taxi chair and ran to go show daddy and play with his sister in the play area.
That was that. Milestone reached and life moved on.
I made it through with only a few tears, but mostly giggling alongside him because he had such a great time. I was thankful for the stylist and the experience they provided. It was totally worth it. They gave me a little commemorative card with a tiny curl locked up in it to save for his baby book that had the stylist’s name, the date, his age and the standard “My First Haircut” certificate.
After, we took him out for pizza and ice cream at Farrell’s Ice Cream Parlor to celebrate, where he got a phone call from his Aunt Tina to talk about his awesome new hair. He loved getting a special phone call and at one point was so excited to talk to her, he didn’t realize he had hung up on her.
After lunch, we headed to the outdoor mall where he and Lottie got to play in the playground, ride the train and run around puddle-jumping in the pouring rain.
When we got home, everyone was exhausted and very happy. It was a great day. One of the best in a long time. I made it through one of the milestone moments I swore I’d never do and I was even happy about it.
I guess we both grew a little…