When Jacob was a little tyke, I asked the gal that cut my hair if she would give him a trim. She knew enough to know it might be a challenge but was willing to give it a try. I don’t remember his age but he was small enough to sit on my lap. What I do remember was that it did not go well. For anyone in the salon. Was it so bad I blocked it from my memory? Nah. I just knew I didn’t want to put either of us through that again.
My sister-in-law had given me a lesson cutting hair using Mike as the model, in their parent’s carport, probably 40 years ago. I was comfortable cutting his hair so felt I could cut Jacob’s as well. It’s interesting because it does seem that fairly often I’ll hear of another parent, of a special needs child, taking on the barber role, too. Whatever it takes to reduce stress for our sons and daughters.
Somehow we managed. Even though scissors and a child flailing their arms, standing up and down, and twirling is downright dangerous. He was constantly trying to hold my hands to end the session. I’d create a space hoping to keep him somewhat occupied and entertained. A candle burning, a spinning toy, and music playing. The promise of chocolate. Sometimes I’d have to call in for reinforcement and other times I made it solo. I’d also let his hair get too long before making myself cut it and I’d cut it pretty short so we could go as long as possible in between.
Then a fella invented something quite unique. It would suck hair into a blade, cut it, and then the cut hair would be pulled through the hose into a vacuum cleaner. And the commercials did the trick making people want one, for 3 easy payments of $19.99!
Who ever heard of such a thing?
A haircut, no scissors, what do you mean?
Grab that vacuum cleaner with a hose,
Attach to the blade and spacer you chose.
Turn the machine on and wait for the buzz,
Prepare to be shocked with what that thing does!
The Flowbee hit the airwaves in 1988.
We were among the millions who took the bait.
Yes, Mike decided he would buy a Flowbee and then he could cut his own hair. And I decided surely it would be easier and safer to cut Jacob’s with a protected blade than pointed scissors! We had discovered a shortcut to his haircuts. And it worked for years and years and years. The only down side was the noise of the vacuum could be bothersome. And I did continue to use scissors some. Still it was better than the alternative.
Sometime last year, I decided to try regular hair clippers. We hadn’t tested that route and there were a lot of good options available. Downside– with every snip, hair is flying. Upside—much quieter than the Flowbee. And, ya know what? It worked really well. I continue to make it as appealing and pleasant as I possibly can, but he’s gotten to where he is a really good sport about it. I still let him get rather shaggy before snipping but it is only because it is easy to postpone.
So through the years, we’ve tried a hair stylist, yours truly, a Flowbee, and clippers. And we have a standby plan in our pocket if any of those were to fail us.
I’ve mentioned before about having neighbors in our home. It one of my favorite things to do because I value knowing the people around us and them getting to know Jacob and meet him in his territory. About a year ago, we hosted a neighborhood Walking Taco Party. In the group, there were three people attending that we had not met. As the evening wound down, we visited with the last remaining couple. I had met the lady, previously, but not her husband. And, I already knew she had some experience with special needs. As we spoke, I learned the man is a barber. He was asking questions about Jacob and explained that he has a number of special needs clients where he works his magic. I told him that I have cut Jacob’s hair for as long as I could remember. Then. Then, he said, “well if you ever need someone to cut Jacob’s hair, I’d be glad to be that person.”
In Jacob’s 40+ years I don’t recall an offer that has left me almost speechless. I was blown away. I kept playing it over in my head. Is that not the best kind of standby plan?!?!?! Thank you C for your genuine offer. I won’t forget it and one day, we will give you a call!
Even though Jacob wouldn’t volunteer to get his haircut, he obviously enjoys the end result. Because I go too long between trims and I cut quite short, it is really noticeable when he does get one. (As pictured above.) Without fail when he’s gotten a ‘fresh’ cut, someone will say something, “Jacob, you got a haircut!” “Jacob, I like your haircut!” “Jacob, you look so handsome!”
And I see the corners of his mouth turn up and his eyes twinkle. He’s feeling pretty good about himself which makes me feel pretty good, too!