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Let's Panic: The Book!

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How to Endure and Possibly Triumph Over the Adorable Tyrant
who Will Ruin Your Body, Destroy Your Life, Liquefy Your Brain,
and Finally Turn You
into a Worthwhile
Human Being.

Written by Alice Bradley and Eden Kennedy

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Sleep Is
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Chicago Review Press

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Let's Panic

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At LET'S PANIC ABOUT BABIES, Eden Kennedy and I share our hard-won wisdom and tell you exactly what to think and feel and do, whether you're about to have a baby or already did and don't know what to do with it.

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« Ten years! | Main | Looking for good »
Tuesday
Jan072014

Never forget 

My son needed a haircut, and I decided that I was the person to do it. This was a mistake.

Henry hates getting haircuts, not because he dislikes the haircutting experience so much; he just likes longer hair. And every barber in town seems committed to cutting his hair way too short. He has a baby face still, which naturally I love, and fresh out of a haircut, he looks about three years younger. This is adorable to us, but I don’t blame him for finding it distasteful. He’s inherited Scott’s round-headedness, and he needs a little length to balance things out. (I on the other hand have a head shaped like a pencil eraser and the only thing I can do to balance it is wear comically oversized ear muffs, which let me tell you are not practical most days of the year.) But at some point the longish hair gets too long and disorderly and order must be restored.

So. Haircut.

I cut Henry’s hair once before, a couple of years ago. I couldn’t remember how that worked out; looking back on it, I was sure it went fine. Scott, however, insisted that it didn’t go well at all. He said I swore I would never cut hair again. Henry also remembered the last haircut as being distinctly not fun. I probably scoured the memories of the last haircut from my mind, but anyway I guess I’m too good at memory scouring.

It was cold (not polar vortex cold, but cold enough) and snowy and we were all in our jammies, so I announced that I was ready to have another go at haircutting. Wasn’t this easier? And budget friendlier? I spent the next hour studying Youtube videos of people cutting other people’s hair, and the people cutting the hair didn’t seem so worked up about it. I was sure I had a good enough grasp of the technique. You grab a hunk of hair, you snip it, you move on. Piece of cake.

Only it turned out that hair is NOT LIKE CAKE and if it is, it is a very confusing cake with all kinds of dimensions and difficulties that I had not considered. All the wisdom I had gleaned from my minutes of youtube-watching exited my head the minute I started cutting. It’s like you need training for this!

I would cut a section, then try to move on and instantly lose the last section and which part did I cut again, and how short? And why does all his hair look the same? Can’t the cut hair, like, change color or something? Not to mention, my haircutting shears were stupidly dull, probably because they’ve been used for everything from cutting wrapping paper to craft projects, so while I was trying to cut into his surprisingly tough hair the scissors were just pushing the hair away, and it felt less like snippety-snip-snip and more like HACK HACK HACK. Like I was reaping crops with a spork.

I hacked for quite a while. Then I stepped back to check my progress. It looked kind of the same except there were little hunks missing here and there. Some of the hunks were not the same size as the other hunks. This was troubling. There was a lot of hair on the floor. Henry asked me if I was done yet. He was being very patient, but I was now getting irritable because I realized I had no idea what I was doing and I was about to make him look very stupid. JUST A MINUTE, I ordered, and I went back in. I kept doing this. Luckily Henry has a lot of extra hair, so I couldn’t do too much damage, at least not if I gave up before nightfall.

The ninth time I stepped back to check my progress, I realized that I was well on my way toward giving him the Imogene Coca.


“No,” I said, finally. “No.”

I placed my shears on the kitchen counter, and called for Scott. Scott came to me. “Mistakes were made,” I told him. He pointed out that he told me this would happen. I decided to forgive him for the attitude. Henry checked himself out in the mirror. “It doesn’t look…that bad,” he said. He is very nice, and very lazy.

“No, my son,” I said. “No. The front is bad enough, but you haven't even checked out the back, where everything has gone crazy. No, you must go to a barber. A real one. For I am not a barber. I know this now.” It’s important for kids to see their parents as fallible human beings who are easily fooled by internet videos. Right? I think I read that somewhere. Anyway he was annoyed with me. Scott couldn’t be annoyed because I was too busy trying to impale myself on my shears. I can get pretty dramatic.

Once everyone had calmed down, Scott and Henry dressed and went out into the cold and the wind to have a professional fix my terrible mistakes, and I swept away a mountain of hair and took a shower, because I was super sweaty. When they came back, Henry looked surprisingly normal, and of course he got a lollipop, so I was forgiven. Scott made me promise I’d remember what happened for next time. I probably won’t, but fortunately I have this post.

Reader Comments (31)

If it's any comfort, my mom had this specific amnesia every now and then when I was a kid. At least it was never the night before class pictures.

January 7, 2014 | Unregistered CommenterKim

Ha ha! So brave! So foolhardy! Girls are easier, girls with long hair you just cut straight across the bottom below their shoulders. Boys, I wouldn't know where to begin.
But I would swap your project for the one your post has diverted me from: researching how to rid my house of an infestation of fleas. Thanks, cat. SO MUCH VACUUMING ahead of me!

January 7, 2014 | Unregistered CommenterPam

I'm relieved to know that I am not the only person at once confused and humbled by attempting to cut the hairs of another. Stylists make it look so easy, but it's actually way harder than AP calculus. My daughter asked me to trim her bangs, which, because they go straight across in one line look deceptively simple. It took me about an hour and I was sweating. In the end, only about 134 hairs were a bit off.

[And for commenter Pam, regarding her flea infestation, I just want you to know I'm a kindred spirit. Two words: boric acid.]

January 7, 2014 | Unregistered Commenterdgm

Good for you. I've (attempted to) cut Matty's hair over the past few months. I figure he's 3 and won't care about it too much until I get good (and get a sharper electric razor). I figure I've got another 18 months or so. Paying $20 for a toddler haircut every 4 weeks throws off the budget; I won't have enough money left over for the therapy he's going to need after viewing childhood pictures.

January 7, 2014 | Unregistered CommenterAnne Phillips

This is one of your funniest posts ever. The Imogen Coca... Ha!

January 7, 2014 | Unregistered CommenterJeannie

Reaping crops with a spork. Ha!!!

January 8, 2014 | Unregistered Commenterkirsten

@Pam, switching to Advantage (from Frontline) and two rounds of Fleabusters did wonders during a heatwave which the fleas understood to mean "PARTY TIME!"

January 8, 2014 | Unregistered Commenterm

My girls prefer I cut their hair myself, but that consists entirely of snipping off an inch of split ends just at the back. My son's head? Not even going to try.

January 8, 2014 | Unregistered CommenterKorinthia

No pics?! ;) I've been pretending to be a hairdresser for years now. I'm pretty good at boys'/men's cuts but was shocked to realize just how hard it was to cut my daughter's hair. And it was just long and straight! Well, it *was* before I started doing a little snip snip here and snip snip there. Straight to the salon she went. Plus they can do all kinds of cool braidy things there, which is a nice bonus. That and the pre-cut cookies and post-cut lollipop make is all worthwhile.

January 8, 2014 | Unregistered CommenterWombat Central

I love this post because you feel like writing again. And that is such a good thing. And I love this post because it made me laugh out loud and remember the first day I found you on your original site. And I love this post the most, because it makes me so happy that I know you.

My frugal husband was tricked by an "as seen on TV!" flobee video and bought the kit. I screamed and waved my arms no, but why would he listen to me? I'm only the mother of said two year old boy strapped to a high chair in the kitchen, newspapers spread underneath. My husband revved up the giant cockroach looking thing and with the buzz sounding like volume 38, he took to the back of my son's head. A fluff of soft, baby chick hair the size of a small rat fell off. My husband looked up, his alarmed eyes locked with mine. "Put down the shears and step away," I said, "and no one gets hurt."

January 8, 2014 | Unregistered Commenteralexandra

We cut our boys' hair with varying degrees of success. The worst was the day before the first day of school for our oldest. But to be fair, he moved suddenly.

Hilarious - love the picture.

January 8, 2014 | Unregistered CommenterJan Moyer

i can't even cut a straight line across the back - it always ends up going up hill. and now that she has short hair (pixie cut! like some actress whose name i've forgotten!), she has to get it cut by someone other than her mother...

you were brave to try.

January 8, 2014 | Unregistered Commentermagpie

I started chuckling at 'pencil eraser head' and graduated to silent convulsive laughter at 'hair does not equal cake' but by the time I read, "Mistakes were made" there was an actual guffaw (perhaps the first in my life) and some leaky, laughter induced tears. Thanks for sharing the funny.

January 8, 2014 | Unregistered CommenterAmber

I have done this as well to my daughter and her bangs that amazingly grow overnight and I know stupid because twice now I have done this to myself. Trim, cut, angle and then try to layer, by myself in the bathroom with crazy sharp, less than an inch long pair of scissors out of a sewing box. Compare what I did to myself to what you did and you don't look stupid to me at all.

January 8, 2014 | Unregistered CommenterKathleen

Those who forget the past...oh never mind!

I love Henry for getting over it. I do SO MANY STUPID things involving my kid and she is so patient and forgiving--after yelling at me for a brief moment or two. I'm sure this is teaching how to have a happy marriage, or so I tell myself. Half the time. The other half I'm thinking I'm teaching her to put up with almost anything.

I gave my daughter the most insane haircut ever--it looked like she gave it to herself so I tried to pretend she did--and it was somehow punk rock and cute and asymmetrical. But luckily a lot of photos existed to remind me of it or I wouldn't remember it either.

January 8, 2014 | Unregistered Commenterozma

Ozma, he felt so bad for me that he was about to insist it was a GREAT haircut and he was KEEPING IT. I almost showed him the back, at that point, but I didn't want to traumatize him more.

January 8, 2014 | Unregistered Commenteralice

Imogene Coca made me LOL.

When I attempted to give my son a haircut (to be fair, it was his idea), things went so wrong -- and finding someone to fix it ended up being so lengthy and difficult -- that he ended up drawing a comic book about it later. Comic book therapy!

January 9, 2014 | Unregistered CommenterTabatha

I love this so very much, particularly as someone who subjected her son first to hillbilly hair because she was so reluctant to cut it, and then absurd early Beatles hair once she did start cutting it. Of course, taking him to a professional has left him with bangs that shrank up to his hairline--twice!--but I digress. (I feel like there's some verb tense wonkiness in that sentence, but I am not going to fret.)

Bottom line: it's all worth it if you get a story out of it, no? And Henry continues to be awesome.

January 9, 2014 | Unregistered CommenterR

I was laughing the whole way through reading. Your blog is my all time favorite and i wish you would write more.

January 10, 2014 | Unregistered CommenterAm

I love this so much. I am currently sporting a cut my husband and I did. Not the worst mistake ever, but really not a great idea. And I'm embarrassed to get my hair stylist to fix it. Ugh. "It’s like you need training for this!" is what I always wind up remembering. Sigh.

January 10, 2014 | Unregistered CommenterKeryn

Ha! I was JUST offering to cut my husband's hair, simultaneously predicting it would go horribly wrong. You've convinced me. My calling is to be an online dating coach, not an amateur barber. Thank you. :)

Pics or it didn't happen.

January 10, 2014 | Unregistered CommenterPi

I tried to give my son a haircut once and I think he mouthed "I am totally putting you in a nursing home that only changes your diaper before breakfast and after dinner."
I keep reminding him that when he gets off his 5 year old ass and gets a job, he can pay for his own damn haircut.
I hope that you scrapbooked the hell out of those hair shots.

January 11, 2014 | Unregistered CommenterKimberly

When my son was about 6 (first grade), I had often given him haircuts. He liked it clipped up the sides and a mop top. Easy enough. My cousin, a real hairdresser, would clean it up every so often and we were good. One night he was bugging me to do his hair, I was really tired, it was late and it was just a bad idea but I caved in and got the clippers and set him up and.... ZOOOOOOOOM confidently ran the clippers up the back of his head - right in the center.

Only .... I forgot to put ANY guard on so I shaved a nice 3-3 1/2" bald patch right into the back of his skull!!! Fortunately, he laughed. And my husband took him out to get it "fixed." Not much could be done.... more fortunate is that he has a wild mane of fast growing hair.

January 13, 2014 | Unregistered CommenterPenny

And why does all his hair look the same? Can’t the cut hair, like, change color or something?

The best. Please write more!

January 15, 2014 | Unregistered CommenterPam

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