My little man needed a haircut bad. Up front his hair was already troubling his eyes, and out back it was getting bogan. My wife and I had known it for weeks, but a toddler haircut was a task resting deep in the ‘too hard/not urgent’ basket. It was just me and my lad at home on a Sunday when I decided that something just had to be done.
Nappy bag in the car, little nugget in his car seat and we’re off to the barber shop. It was only an hour away from nap time, so I knew we were flying close to the sun, but he had a new toy, a baby hammer, and seemed in good spirits. It wasn’t the little guy’s first haircut but it was the first time taking him to the barber shop I use myself, so I was a bit nervous about how it was gonna play out.
A good barber shop is a sanctuary for men, a place where guys can enjoy a peaceful wait followed by unforced conversation on sports or current events. Men’s interest magazines are thumbed and many guys just kick back and look at crap on their smart phones. A screaming toddler is not a welcome addition.
We rocked in to the shop and my bogan-haired spawn sat on my lap quietly while we looked at some car mags. The wait for a barber was only two guys deep in front of us, so I was optimistic we’d make it before nap time sensitivities kicked in. More dudes rolled in and I was glad we arrived when we did. However, my boy would only sit on my lap for so long before he wanted to get down, and rather than let it become an issue, I stood him beside where I was sitting. He fidgeted and took a few steps forward into the middle of the waiting area. Unsure of what would happen next I looked at him and he looked back at me. Then he started to dance.
Before then I hadn’t even heard the music, but once he started to boogie it sounded louder. Growing in confidence the tiny dancer moved further away from me and into the open. He dropped all his freshest moves – flappy hands, knee bends, drunk Elvis, the reckless spin. I nodded my head at him for encouragement and then I looked around the room. It was magic. As my tiny dancer bopped and spun he tore open a hole in the grey winter’s day and beamed sunshine in. The barbers stopped to watch and other punters looked up from their phones and mags. They smiled and took in the spectacle.
Then he stopped. He toddled back to me swinging his baby hammer. I felt proud, I felt touched and I felt blessed. For the first time I saw my son as a gift that could be shared, can bring joy to others, and make a positive impact on a situation – if only for a passing moment. The true gift wasn’t in his dance skills, which are fairly rudimental, but the purity of the moment. Little man had no thought of shame and no fear of judgement, he heard music and let his body move to it, simply because that’s what he felt like doing.
He backed it up by being very good in the barber’s chair and made no fuss even when the clippers were beside his ears. With all the work involved in the first couple of years of having kids it can feel like there is no pay back, but then you get some when, and where, it’s least expected.