Baby boy was becoming unrecognizable under a shaggy mop of fluffy hair. Light brown wisps covered his ears and dipped into his eyes. Hair fell onto his neck and swooped out into bizarre cowlicks that will plague him for the rest of his life. Naturally, I thought it was adorable, while others repeated the same annoying comment, “That boy needs a haircut.”
However, it wasn’t until his vision started to be affected that I awoke to the reality that he looked like a ragamuffin, a generally clean but unkept child. I saw him squinting, instead of tossing his hair to the side, as he tried to see the world through a veil of brown. He was willing to accept the situation, limited sight and all. Not knowing enough to try to change things, he just tried to make the best of it by peering through his locks like looking through a knothole in a fence to find out the grass really was greener on the other side. Suddenly, I felt like an irresponsible parent (enter a good amount of mom guilt) for allowing my baby to become a shaggy, visually impaired version of his former self.
I considered taking him to the hairdresser, but the fear of an inexperienced or impatient stylist poking one of his eyes out or snipping off the tip of his ear threw me into a paralyzed state of panic, and on his hair grew.
He doesn’t sit still for more than a few seconds before wriggling away unless Puffs are involved, then he transforms into a calm and patient boy, as long as there is a steady delivery of Puffs to his mouth. Puffs, for the uninformed reader, are just that, puffs of flavored cereal sized bites that quickly dissolve in the mouth or hand, wherever there might be a few drops of moisture.
Shortly after I realized what I was doing to my baby by doing nothing at all, I took the tiny bull by the horns and decided to trim his hair with a pair of dull kitchen scissors, a bad idea, and the aid of Puffs, good idea.
It ended with screaming and a perfectly straight set of bangs over half of his forehead. As for the other half, let’s just say it didn’t make the cut. The swoops were snipped off as quickly and carefully as possible and his ears and neck became visible once more. Perhaps best of all, neither eye was gouged and not a single drop of blood was shed. Yet, for all of my good intentions, he now looks an eensy-weensy bit crazy with modern art for a hairdo and an unhealthy fear of scissors.
I suppose he can add the experience in with a long yet-to-be written list of childhood traumas. We all have them, regardless of our parents/caregivers good, or mostly good, intentions. One of my former coworkers imparted the sage parenting wisdom before my maternity leave, “No matter what you do or don’t do, you’re going to screw them up somehow, you just don’t know how yet.”
And strangely enough, remembering her words provide comfort in this brave and still-new world of motherhood.