Clair McFarland: I’m Too Scared To Cut My Kid’s Hair

in Clair McFarland/Column

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By Clair McFarland, Cowboy State Daily

At this point, I’m too scared to cut my kid’s hair.  

It’s been months since my middle-born son had a haircut because he says he can feel his hairs crying when the clippers chop them.  

Middleborn’s bronze and copper quills plume like a nuke cloud and cascade down his skull, twisting into columnar ringlets behind his ears and dusting his shoulders with curled tendrils.   

There could be anything in there: A chocolate. A LEGO. Slingshot ammo.  

My firstborn son and young twins got haircuts last week. Each boy in his turn teased the bathroom mirror while I sheared their aesthetic rebellion away thatch by thatch.  

As the fringe hit the floor, untanned horizons broadened along their hairlines. Their eyes widened with the stretched periphery. Their happy scalps exhaled scents of leather and rain.  

Middleborn hid in an elm tree until the haircuts were over.  

“Man!” said Firstborn, sporting a military crop. “You’re starting to look like John Lennon.”  

Middleborn frowned.  

“Nuh-UH,” snapped he. “I look like one of the Beatles.” 

Firstborn tried to stifle a laugh but failed.  

I think Middleborn looks like a tough misunderstood teenager in an ‘80s movie. The twins think he looks like a Polish rooster.  

Middleborn has developed tics to deal with his hair. He flicks his head up and left to rattle the quills out of his eyes. He’s constantly smoothing, plastering, twisting his hair behind his ears. His eyes roll in their sockets when the strands tickle his nose.  

With his one exposed eye he guards the red comb no one else is allowed to use.  

His tics drive me crazy.  

“We’ve gotta cut it,” I blurt at bedtime.  

The copper mop shakes a “no.”  

“Why not?” 

“Because,” says the mop, “it looks cool. And it feels cool. And it’s fluffy.” 

I wonder if “fluffy” is a synonym for “explosive.”  

“And I NEVER have bad hair days,” Middleborn continues. “Except when the poof sticks up.”  

Ah, the poof. The bane of every 10-year-old boy who ever went vogueing down pastel elementary school hallways while pretending not to notice girls.  

Even though it annoys me, I can’t bring myself to cut his hair. It reminds me of Middleborn’s refusal to domesticate wild things; which is one of the traits he got from me.  

See, we aren’t just living one life. Heroes and savages hide in us all, vying against each other for the chance to blaze forth against the survivalist instincts that shackle us into lockstep conformity.   

And the longer Middleborn’s hair gets, the brighter his inner legends blaze.  

He stalks up and down the soccer field like a lion, tracking the ball with his one uncovered eye, lunging for it with bared teeth. 

On the ride home he’s a bonfire. Middleborn sticks his head out the open car window and lets the wind flow through his mane. The bright tails flutter into pointed flames. His exposed forehead welcomes the rushing air like a secret.  

At home he’s a hermit meditating in his own shade. He builds a LEGO battle scene of long-haired warriors with black helmets, pitted against naïve and doomed helicopter pilots who, incidentally, have no hair. When he leans forward his hair flows down like autumn willow limbs, hiding the lip-biting, squinting intensity of a boy at work.  

Middleborn’s imagination grows with his hair. And watching him shift from rogue to legend with each new adventure makes me long to see the world through his one uncovered eye, and live the many tales that make up his one-of-a-kind soul.  

Well, I can’t do that. But I can bury my nose in his poofy mane and let him go a few more days without a haircut.  

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