Museum President, Steve Long, receiving his first haircut.
While parents are supposed to give young children choices as a way to help them gain a sense of control over their lives, child development experts caution us to limit the options so that the child doesn’t become overwhelmed. However, what happens after you give your child a choice and he changes his mind?
I witnessed that challenge recently when my three-year-old son, Bennett and I went to the barbershop. Whether Bennett actually needed a haircut was much discussed by our family. My wife doesn’t think guys need to get their haircut every month, but I thought Bennett was due for a trim. When I asked him if he wanted to accompany me to the barbershop that morning, he enthusiastically agreed.
When we arrived, there were several people ahead of us. Vinnie, our barber, asked if one or both of us was getting a haircut. Here’s an opportunity to give Bennett one of those “developmentally appropriate binary choices,” I thought to myself. “Do you want a haircut,” I asked Bennett. “No,” he responded decisively.
Before long, it was my turn and I got my haircut while Bennett read a book and watched a program about sharks on the television in the shop. As soon as I was finished and getting ready to pay so that we could leave, Bennett loudly announced, “I want a haircut.” “I’m sorry,” I said, “but there are people on line behind us now. You missed your chance.” Bennett would not be denied, “I want a haircut,” he let everyone in the shop know. “We don’t have time,” I said as I began hustling him out the door. “We have to pick up lunch.” Bennett would not let it rest and as I was paying for our food at the restaurant, he raced back to the barbershop. While standing outside the door, he cried repeatedly of his need for a haircut.
He continued bawling on the way home and would not stop until I told him I would cut his hair when we got back to the house. Once we arrived, I sat him in a chair, pulled out the scissors, pinched a little bit of hair and clip, clip, clipped the air above his head. After a few minutes of pretending to cut his hair, I had Bennett look in the mirror. “Do you like your haircut?” I asked. “Yes, I do!” he replied.
The irony is that I sobbed through my first haircut and hated going to the barber as a child. Who knew my son would cry about NOT getting his hair cut?