Mom Moments: The Haircut

Most kids don't relish getting a haircut. But for MomSpeaker Brie Latini's son PJ, who has autism, the experience is particularly horrifying. Here's how Brie and PJ cope with the inevitable visit to the salon.

The weekend was kicked off with a haircut for PJ, which is, in general, a harrowing experience for all involved. Thankfully, I found a children's salon with stylists who treat PJ with kindness and humor. They do what they need to do, which is get in there and give him a haircut. PJ writhes, screams, shakes and cries and somehow his thick blond hair always looks fantastic.

I know he needs the haircut. His hair is too thick and too heavy to let grow. I would much rather the haircut go as fast as possible rather than plead and cajole with him, an endeavor that could take hours. So I wrap my arms around him to hold him still while our stylists hovers about us, snipping and buzzing away. If you ever want to feel like a failure as a parent — even if you are doing something you know will help your child (shots are a perfect example) — go ahead and hold them down to make them do something they are scared of. It'll break you inside every time. 

I know that for most parents, haircuts are not major life events. It is not at all uncommon for children to throw huge tantrums over the shears and clippers, of course. But for PJ, the whole thing is terrifying. The head is so sensitive, anyway, and for PJ those feelings are intensified times fifty. He starts off okay, but as they start to cut the hair at the back of his head he just melts down completely. I can feel him trembling like a tuning fork as I try to coral his flailing arms and legs. Often, my glasses are thrown across the room, my hair pulled out in handfuls. I usually come out with bites like swollen, angry crescents on my arms and wrists. But I know he's not being bad or just having a tantrum. PJ is honestly, truly in a white-hot panic and just does not know how to cope.

Eventually, the haircut ends, and PJ recovers quickly. Once the cut hairs are brushed from his skin and his tears are wiped, he goes back to being my funny, sweet baby, hopping up to play with the toys in the waiting area while I pay the bill (and leave a 150% tip). There are usually a few other parents in the waiting area. They tend to divide into two camps. One are the Supportive Mothers. They see our struggle at the back of the salon and throw me sympathetic, Sisterhood-of-the-Motherhood-Pants glances and offer encouraging words as we leave. The others are the parents who eye us with a wary gaze, with a hint of Control-Your-Kid, and avert their eyes completely when we leave the salon. Needless to say, the former make me feel a little better.

Today, when I dropped PJ off at school, everyone fussed over his haircut. It's a really, really good haircut. He looks so handsome and grown-up and I can almost forget that I had to hold him down to get it done. 

Brie Latini is a South Jersey writer and mom. This post is adapted from her blog ( . . . a breezy life).

Categories: MomSpeak