I see the long shaggy hair covering his eyes and he’s bent over trying to put his Batman in his Bat mobile. He’s getting so frustrated because he can’t see what he’s doing and this task is taking too long to figure out. I gently offer to help him and he runs away in anger and slams his door. He’s only four and already acting like a teenager. I pick up his toys, walk to his room and gather him in my arms.
I wrap his blanket around him holding him tight in my Mama bear hug. Deep pressure soothes him and I rock until he stops crying. I brush the hair back from his eyes and I say the dreaded words “oh honey it’s time for a haircut.”
Soon his body tenses and he’s ready for fight or flight. I rock him and tighten my hold till his fear ridden body is limp in my arms.
The next day I tell my husband our son needs a haircut. He shakes his head and says “well I don’t want to do it.” Neither of us do it’s a two hour ordeal and the emotions overflow and we’re all stressed. We take turns holding our sweet boy who will turn into a howling banshee any moment. It’s my turn to perform the task of completing a decent haircut.
I assemble my tools scizzors, buzzer, guards, comb, spray bottle, and a cloth. He will not wear a cape so we strip off his shirt and wrap a towel around him. I place his blanket in a clear plastic bag to protect it but so he’s still able to see it. Next I grab the iPad, thermos of water, and a bag of lollipops.
I call my husband to help wrangle our son and it’s easier to catch a greased pig at a BBQ! He holds him tightly and I begin wetting down his hair. I’m being very careful to not spray his face at the same time singing his favourite song while his Dad finds him his favourite superheroes on YouTube. I begin to comb his hair and I cautiously snip his bangs. This is not an easy task as I venture close to his eyes.
I comb his hair out a few more times and move to the sides. I gently approach his ears and I’m holding my breath while I cut around this delicate area. Next I move to the back of his head making sure to work quickly now as he starts to wiggle. I move over to other side and you can hear a pin drop as I cut around the other ear. The hair starts falling and covering his face and blanket in the plastic bag.
I quickly blow it away and brush off his lap. He starts in with a low growl and I back off completely gently soothing him with my singing. I carry on only to reach an impasse as he doesn’t want to sit any longer. I bribe him with a lollipop and ask his Daddy to hold him in his blanket bear hug. Instantly he’s soothed and I continue cutting. I’m not a hairstylist I have no professional experience whatsoever. Other than cutting his big brothers hair in the classic “page boy” style.
I comb out his hair and continue cutting until he gets excited with the video and jerks his head and shoulders around. I narrowly miss stabbing him in the back of the neck! I tag team out with my husband and we trade spots. He plugs in the buzzers and I brush the hair away from our sons face and body. I prepare him for the buzzing sound and hold on to him tight because I know this is going to be a bumpy ride.
His Dad works quickly and efficiently as I tighten my grip and sing louder overtop of the sound of the buzzers. He’s on my lap wiggling out of my arms and it’s like holding a bag of snakes! We’re almost in tears and we quickly wash his hands and face that are covered in hair. I pick up the hand mirror so he can survey our work and he starts to cry he wants all his hair back. A full sensory meltdown ensues while he can’t process what happened and why I can’t put the hair back. This is the invisible cloak that he wears as he tries to process all eight of his senses.
I can only imagine what this has felt like for him. As much as we prepare him for haircut time it’s still unbearable. We let him run free and then I change him into his pyjamas while I make him a snack and give him something to drink. He sits at the table singing away between bites and I look at his happy face in awe. Just moments ago I imagined that the clippers felt like hot razors attacking his scalp as his body, brain, and central nervous system were in overload. He finishes up his snack, I wash his hands and face and hug him so tight while telling him how proud I am of him.
He cuddles up with his Dad and watches a cartoon before storytime. I clean up the mess in the kitchen, sweeping, making lunches, and pour myself a stiff drink. I go downstairs and sit and sip while glancing up at my son and his Dad nestled together in the recliner. My husband says “thank you for being a brave boy for Mommy and Daddy.”
His eyes well up with tears and he holds his Daddy’s face in his little hands and says “you hurt me Daddy.” I watch my husband’s face crumple and we look at each other and silently agree that this will be the last haircut he ever gets at home. This is our life with Sensory Processing Disorder.
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20 thoughts on “The Haircut”
Well done you both! Haircuts can be traumatic for some kids at the best of times – I can’t imagine the added angst of a sensory processing disorder! Bravo 🙂
It really is trauma and I love that we found someone he trusts to cut his hair now. Honestly it was relief to get through the 2 hour ordeal every two months! Thank you for your kindness Lizzi. ❤️
Oh GOOD! I’m so glad you found someone he trusts. That’s HUGE 😀
It really is, he’s had a lot of different hair stylists but only one he’s ever felt entirely comfortable with. It helps that she’s cute too. ?
All three of you deserve medals! People don’t fathom how difficult it can be carrying out even mundane tasks when it involves a person with special needs.
Thank you Mike! Yes to a neurotypical child haircuts may not seem like a big deal. But with my son dealing with all the extra sensory input it’s a lot to take in. We’re blessed now to find a hairstylist who’s amazing with both my sons. ?
Still, I must take my hat off to you Jeanine. Good news you found a hairstylist. Jonathan, one of the service users where I work has similar needs. He will only have one person cut his hair.
Thank you it’s been a long journey and something as simple as a simple as a stress free haircut experience is a lot to celebrate. ?
I remember how hard it was for my two boys when they would get their hair cut. Having the extra burden of extra sensory must be pure agony for your son.
It really is, I’ve been through so many hair stylists and I couldn’t find anybody after we moved from my sons last one. He liked her but he still cried through every haircut. So I just bought the clippers set and did my best with my husband. Finally we have someone who’s amazing with him and he looks forward to haircut time now. ?
I remember my son’s first hair cut , it was so difficult . sometimes it is difficult even now when he is seven . I think you’re son is brave and you guys just did great .
It’s the memories that remind me of how far he’s come since fear and sensory overload prevented any happy thoughts. It’s not his favourite thing to do but we get through by having someone he trusts. Thank you for reading and your kindness. ?
Wow, I can’t imagine having to go through this with my kid. You wrote about your experience very well, even for someone like me who can’t relate personally. Very good post!
Thank you very much. It was heart wrenching to have to go through that for years. I’m so grateful that it’s just a memory now instead of reality. ?
Hi! Just so you know I nominated you for the http://bit.ly/1OodIsE Lovely Blog award. <3
Oh wow that’s amazing thank you so much. ?❤️
You and your husband are amazing……Thank you for sharing this experience….I had no idea of how difficult it could be for him….so happy he has you in his life to help him through it all….great mother days post too, I miss my mom too….kat
Awe thank you for the wonderful compliments Kat. Every haircut is a new experience but much better now that he’s more desensitized. My Mom told me before I never liked getting my haircut either. I wonder what she had to put up with me. Special ladies those Mamas of ours. ❤️
Yes they are…..