When you are watching every penny and becoming a pro at making a dollar out of 15 cents, you learn how to acquire skills you never had before. Plato is credited with this famous quote on necessity being the mother of invention. This mother had to learn to wing it in many areas.
When my guys were little, it was always important for them to be neat…even though they are boys. Sometimes we could budget barbershop haircuts. This was especially important when they started school. We would go to the shop I would give them the money to pay the barber, along with a tip and sit close to them until it was their turn. I thought it was so important for them to hand the money to the barber themselves - building that sense of responsibility. Sometimes the conversation in the barbershop is not the best environment for impressionable boys, but the adults tried to keep it tolerable.
When we didn’t have the money to go to the barber, they had to suffer with a mom cut.
While I was waiting for all three little heads to sit in the barber’s chair, I tried to watch carefully as the barber started his task. We bought the best pair of clippers we could manage. We needed the clipper oil to keep the blades lubricated. I took one look at the thin tube of clipper oil and then looked at the price tag ($3 or $4 dollars) and I said no way I am paying that much for that little tube. I did read the ingredients so I could determine the contents. It was simply mineral oil. I knew I could get a whole 12 ounce bottle of mineral oil at any local pharmacy for less than a dollar so that is what we did.
Since I was totally unskilled in cutting hair, the guys sometimes ended up with a bald head. We tried several times fading the sides and the other fancy styles but if there were any errors, they had to sport a clean bean. I also learned the importance of knowing hair patterns. One of my sons has a patch of hair that goes in the opposite direction of the rest of his head. That darn patch frustrated us for quite a few cuts before we realized we had to turn the clippers the other way for that one area.
We had a whole routine for the haircuts. We would use the computer chair and put that in the bathroom in front of the sink where we had a large mirror. We used a pillowcase for the drape around their necks. I would make believe I was a professional barber and one by one, each one would get a cut, brush off all of the hair and then a big kiss, after checking the back of their heads with a hand held mirror of course. I didn’t have any scented water to wipe their heads with, but most of the time, they looked pretty good.
When they got older, they started to learn how to cut their own hair (or each other’s) and maybe just needed mom to line up the area around their neck. Each son had a part-time job in high school and in college so there was opportunity for them to fund their own barber cuts…for those special occasions. As they went off to college, a pair of clippers went with them to make sure they were neat at school too…although sometimes the busyness of school was more important.
We have patronized the same barber since they were little boys. Mr. A knows them and will even open the shop at unusual hours if they were headed in town and needed a fresh cut. My hairdresser recommended him knowing that young men need that experience and environment as a part of their maturation process. It’s interesting what you can learn to do when you need to.