My girls need a haircut. I should take them to the hairdresser but hey, how difficult can it be? I’ve borrowed a book from the library. It has step-by-step instructions. I can do it. It’ll be easy.

With a Dummies Guide to Cutting Hair in one hand and a sharp pair of scissors in the other, I go in search of my first victim. I run the comb through Imogen’s long locks. Snip! Snip! I have started. No turning back now.

An hour later: “Are you nearly finished, Mum?”

I am getting hot and bothered. Imogen’s hair doesn’t look quite right. How about another snip here…or perhaps there… No, it’s getting shorter and shorter. Maybe I ought to stop while she still has some hair left.

“Grab your shoes, Immy,” I eventually say. “We’re going to the hairdresser.” Finally, I have admitted defeat. I need expert help.

We arrive at the beauty salon. “I tried to cut my daughter’s hair…I never should have started,” I stumble over the words as I make my confession. “Can you rescue me? ...I’ll never do it again.”

But of course, I do. I discover another book. I read the cover: “No fail instructions for cutting fringes”. Sounds perfect. I find another victim. “Just a few snips and we’ll have that hair out of your eyes,” I promise. This time I have the sharp scissors, the book, a comb and a roll of sticky tape on hand. Charlotte’s eyes open wide as I cut off a length of tape. I comb her fringe straight down and carefully stick it to her forehead. “Mum!” she protests. I line the scissors up along the edge of the tape. Snip! Snip! Voila! I peel off the tape. I look. I shake my head. I refer to the picture in the book. “I think it’s time we grew out your fringe, Charlotte,” I decide. “Yes, no fringe. Much easier."

I wish I had a hairdressing qualification. Forget about the science degree, all that botany and biochemistry. A certificate for basic hair cutting would be far more useful. When I became a mother I never imagined all the heads of hair that I’d be entrusted to look after. And five of those heads belong to girls.

I soon discovered what to do with the boys. I gave them to my husband Andy. “Use the clippers,” I instructed. So for years, every few weeks, Andy would shear the boys. At least they were neat and tidy.

I found this little story Callum wrote some years ago, when his head was under Andy’s care:

Dad says, “First victim.” I try and creep silently away. “Ahem,” says Dad. “First victim. “

I turn to flee but am caught and frogmarched to the operating chair. I gulp and say, “Reporting in, Sergeant Slaughter.”

 “Sit here,” Dad says, as the blades begin to whirl.

“Eek, ouch, aargh, my golden locks,” I scream. After ages of torture I get down barely alive. I heave a sigh of relief. It’s over for a while. I have survived.

“Next,” says Dad.

When Andy began to lose his hair, he decided to go the clipper way himself. A minute or two spent passing the blade over his head and he was done. As he said, “No use wasting money at the barbers. I haven’t got enough hair left to justify the expense.”

I don’t know if Andy is bothered about his nearly bald head or not. He's a cheerful kind of person and always passes such things off with a laugh. But just recently, Andy was actually very, very glad that a large proportion of his army of hairs has deserted his head. 

This gratitude descended upon him a few weeks ago while he was doing his university in-school teaching prac. The staff of the primary school were chatting and drinking coffee during the morning tea break. One teacher said, “I was reading to the class. The kids were sitting at my feet and then I glanced down. One of the girls…her head was crawling…It was awful!!! She had lice! I stepped back. Lice! Arghhh!! I couldn’t bear it if I got lice.” All the female teachers shuddered and their scalps started to itch just at the thought of those wriggling, burrowing little creatures.

“I don’t have to worry,” smiled Andy. “What louse is going to want to live on my head? There’s nowhere to hide.”

Yes, lice are another unfortunate side effect of having hair. I am sure it would be much more of a problem if our children went to school. But lice have been known among the homeschooling community too. I live in dread of going to the hairdressers and being told, ‘Do you realise you have lice?” How embarrassing! I have to remind myself that lice aren’t the end of the world. Lice have lived on the most saintly of heads. Did you know St Bernadette of Lourdes had lice?

It is very strange: my hair can feel perfectly fine one day and then when I get up the next morning it feels awful. It has obviously grown centimetres overnight. I can’t stand it a minute longer. It needs cutting. Now this is danger time. I might be tempted to hunt out the scissors and start hacking off a few strands here and there. But I think of having to face my hairdresser. She has been looking after my hair for some time now. My hair really belongs to her. It is her creation. No, I can’t touch it. I pick up the phone, get an appointment and in minutes I am on my way up to the village to be pampered and tidied up. My days of cutting hair are over. I am a mother, not a hairdresser.

As I am paying for my haircut, I tell the hairdresser my sticky tape story. She laughs. “Hair cutting involves a lot of skill,” I admit. “Thank you for looking after my hair. Thank you for making me feel good.”

Hairdressers really are such marvellous and necessary people

The word ‘fringe’ probably sounds very strange to my American friends. I understand you all have ‘bangs’. If anyone can tell me where the word, ‘bangs’ originates from, I’d be very interested.

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  1. Oh my goodness!! Poor Callum!! Hahahahaaa!!!

    I have said "bangs" all my life. It never dawned on me that anyone ever said anything differently. I googled why we say it, and here is what I found:

    The term bangs is widely used in North America, although the rest of the world use the term "fringe". It originally referred to hair cut bang-off (straight across at the front), although the term is now applied to diverse forms of fringe. It is probably related to bang-tail, a term still used for the practice of cutting horses' tails straight across.

    My daughters and I all have bangs. I intend to keep bangs until I die, as I have a freakishly giant forehead that could be used as a billboard for adverts! Hahaa!!

    I have attempted cutting my own bangs as well as my girls and we have all ended up with horrible ugly uneven bangs. Our stylist will trim bangs only for just a few dollars, so I am happy to pay this small sum to not have crooked bangs.

    To the best of my knowledge I've never had lice and neither has Amy but Robyn's last year of public school she had a horrible case of it and I sobbed my heart out as I had to cut her long thick hair... which at that time had NEVER been cut, and she still had blonde baby hair at the ends. I will never forget that dreadful experience, but now I am a 'professional' at getting rid of the darn things!

  2. Susan,

    I had to wait over a year for a comment on this post and an answer to my question! Thank you so much for all that info about bangs.

    We must be twins. I have a large forehead too and I will NEVER grow my fringe out. But all my girls are fringeless, which makes it easier for me. No longer can I be tempted to tidy up their fringes. The girls can pull their hair neatly off their faces and look wonderful, but me? I look strange.

    Lice? I haven't yet discovered why the world has lice. Even maggots and leeches have a use. But lice? Maybe they teach a mother patience. I don't know.

    I have enjoyed mulling over hairy problems with you!

  3. Lice. Gah... the very word starts me to itching!!

    Supposedly, some claim that some parasites, such as lice, are for the conditioning of a “natural” immune system. Crazy, right?!?!

    Gah. I'll just take vitamins and local unfiltered honey!


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