In the nearly three years he’s been alive, Jay has had fewer than five good hair days. We thought one of them was a sunny day in September 2009 when we posed for a photo that served as the front of our family Christmas card that year. In retrospect, it’s pretty clear we were wrong:
As soon as we realized that Jay’s precious newborn hair had turned into a social liability we started giving him home haircuts using clippers. He despised the experience so we didn’t do it often.
We’d cut his hair short and let it grow out until it was so long he couldn’t see. There’d be a few days each haircut cycle, however, where Caroline would say he looked like a hunk. One of those days happened to be his second birthday:
Despite Caroline’s preference for the Tom Brady-look, we stuck with the buzz cuts. They were simple and free and I thought Jay looked fine with short hair, if not maximally adorable. But this fall my friend John heckled, “Jay looks like a little Russian thug.”
So in December we decided to let Jay’s hair grow out in preparation for his first barber shop haircut. The transition was rough. As his hair grew out the mistakes we’d made when we’d last clipped his hair became more glaring: Behind his ears he had several stray hairs that grew so long it was as if they were sprouting out of a mole; and the hair on the back of his head was so uneven you would have thought we’d cut it with pinking shears.
But we stayed the course. In the middle of January his hair started to look good again- not gorgeous, but better than it had for months. Then seemingly overnight Jay’s hair went from long and decently attractive to mullet. That’s when we knew it was time to make a call.
Today Jay got his first real haircut, at a place near campus called Arcade Barbers. We talked up his haircut all week- how Jay would get to sit in a race car chair, wear a cape, and eat a lollipop. Jay seemed excited but I was nervous. He’s brave under some circumstances like getting his shots, but skittish under others like when he ran screaming from a pony ride this past fall. I wasn’t sure which side of him the barbershop would bring out. Caroline figured that the likely outcomes ranged from “minor meltdown” to “utter calamity.”
But maybe Jay realized that if he botched this, it was back to bathtub buzz cuts and looking like a KGB goon until the age of maturity. So he got into that race car. He didn’t flinch when the clippers came. And he walked out of that barbershop looking like a proper little boy.