When our daughter was young she had long blonde hair, wavy and thick. We tied it up, plaited it, kept it off her face with a variety of colourful slides. We thought she looked beautiful. Our local hairdresser was very accommodating when she needed a trim. On a couple of occasions he even opened his shop especially for her. He had a disabled daughter himself he told us. It takes one to know one it seems.
This kind man would take his time. He’d chat and sing to our girl as he snipped away, following her every move as she turned her head this way and that. We’d read her stories and keep her amused during the tricky bits like wetting her hair with a spray, evening the sides up, attacking the fringe. Her fringe has always proved problematic. It’s hard for her to keep still when someone is up close and personal with a pair of sharp scissors near her face. Distractions and a clear focus are vital.
Gradually over time her long hair started to bother her. She’d chew it, pull at it, sometimes pull it out. She hated it being brushed and combed. The tangles could be a nightmare. As her health deteriorated post puberty and she faced a gamut of new challenges, we knew it was time to consider a shorter style for her. Anything to lessen her stress and make her comfortable in this difficult period.
Then we moved to another city. The search for a new hairdresser began. Eventually we started going to a funky barber’s. No appointments needed, take a seat and wait. We’d drive past to check the queue. If it was quiet we’d go in. Customers became used to the young woman in the chair watching a film on her portable dvd player as her hair was cut. Occasionally they’d take a second look at her, but rarely.
The first short cut was a shock. It completely changed our daughter’s face. I don’t think we ever really liked it. She looked – different. But at least her hair was out of her eyes, out of harm’s way. Then the queues at the barber’s got too long, waiting was not easy. Back to the drawing board. We found somewhere else, someone else we liked. Great cuts, too many steps.
We tried mobile hairdressers. First was a young man fresh out of college with big ideas. He did our daughter’s hair while she watched tv. He was keen to advise but not to listen. He came up with what was essentially a pudding basin cut, what we considered a “special needs” cut. He felt it would be manageable and easy for him to maintain. We didn’t ask him back.
The second person who came to our house, a woman we vaguely knew, understood the need for dexterity, speed, style and sensitivity. And was charming. Her haircuts were perfect: on trend and practical. She told us she had worked with people like our daughter. Then she left the country to go travelling.
Our daughter’s hair had grown long again by now and really suited her. She seemed to have forgotten how much it had bothered her in the past. People would tell her how nice she looked. She smiled. We purred.
We went back to the barber’s. At least they knew her there and didn’t seem to mind turning down the music a bit so she could watch her film while they chopped, teased and layered, bobbing and weaving around her. The queues seemed shorter at certain times.
But recently things have changed. There are new hairdressers. A couple of the PAs have gone to the shop several times with our girl and each time have been told to come back. This hairdresser is not confident, that one is too busy (she’s having a tea break at the time), somebody else can do it another day. Come back. Come back. We don’t.
We tell another PA about this. It’s bugging us. We feel we don’t want to go if our daughter is not welcome but don’t know where else to take her for a haircut. The PA turns to us and says she is a trained hairdresser. She has her scissors with her.