SQUARE CUT

Most people will fork out the money to have their hair cut and styled by a professional. Why? Because unless you have eyes behind your head and extra limbs, it’s pretty hard to give yourself an even trim or a styled haircut. A DIY dye job? Yeah, achievable for the majority. DIY highlights? Doable for some. For most people, the cost of a trip to the hairdresser is insurance against sporting a hair fail that will take months to grow out. That’s not to say that disastrous results don’t happen at salons but you’d think the odds are lower.

So why are we quick to grab the kitchen scissors and offer our services to hack someone else’s hair? Why do we think we can do the job a professional is trained to do?

When my daughter was two-years-old, I convinced my husband that trimming her hair would be easy peasy. It would save us money and time, and spare her the trauma of facing a stranger wielding sharp scissors. Luckily, I succeeded in giving our daughter a decent hairdo. As a result, my husband readily agreed to the next cut.

Only something terrible happened. Maybe it was the pressure of expectations. Maybe I had a bad pair of scissors. Maybe the three cups of coffee I had prior made my hands shaky. If I’m being totally honest with myself, the first time was probably a fluke.

Whatever the case, I gave my almost three-year-old daughter a sixteenth century Trappist monk-like haircut, minus the bald spot. You know the one I’m talking about? AKA a mushroom cut or a bowl cut. I kept trying to correct the uneven bits and instead of cutting my losses, I pressed on. Eventually, I had to stop because I ran out of hair to cut.

My poor little girl lost her wavy brown tresses and had to sport a Dumb and Dumber look for months. A beanie became her best friend. Suffice to say, my haircutting privileges were revoked, never to be returned. We learned a valuable lesson from this mishap.

1. Less is more.
2. Know when to quit.
3. Sometimes accepting mistakes is better than trying to fix them.
4. Some things are best left to the professionals.

When my three-year-old son needed a haircut last week, I didn’t think twice about booking an appointment. Unfortunately, our usual hairdresser was fully booked for another month and given that Henry’s fringe had started impinging on his sight, I felt the urgency in getting the task done. We visited two hair salons before dropping into the nearest barber.

Poking my head into the shop, I asked the man if they catered for children. The man looked at Henry and said, “It depends. Will he sit still? Will he behave?” I should have listened to my ‘this is a bad idea’ instincts and backed the fudge away but I hadn’t wanted the time spent searching to be in vain.

After reassuring both the man and Henry, we proceeded with the haircut. My only stipulation was that he didn’t use a hairdryer or an electric razor as Henry is sensitive to the noise. The last time Henry visited the hairdresser, he spent the entire time with an anxious scowl, watching for any movement towards the dreaded handheld hairdryer.

The man complained that it would be difficult to execute a good cut without them. That should have served as a second warning from the Universe but like a stubborn mule, I ignored the tingling bells.

This man was like Edward Scissorhands reincarnated. He snipped and clipped at a furious rate. Poor Henry had his eyes squeezed shut and shoulders bunched for the whole duration. I could understand his reaction because it was terrifying to watch. I kept saying, “You’re doing so well buddy. The man’s a professional. He knows what he’s doing and he WON’T cut you.” I was tempted to pull the plug half-way through.

Ten minutes later, twenty bucks down and Henry walked out physically unscathed but sporting a professional crooked square haircut. You know the one I’m talking about? Unintentional blunt bangs that was in desperate need of some texturing and a leveller, and jagged sideways lightning bolts around the outside of the ears.

I don’t know what is worse; a DIY Trappist monk inspired haircut or an expensive haircut from a barber with the fine motor skills of a preschooler.

Anyway, it was my bad. Again. If I’m not prepared to drop into any old salon and get my hair styled by an unknown hairdresser, why did I subject my kid to that treatment? I chose the fastest way to solve a problem at the cost of my son’s comfort. I learned another valuable lesson here.

When my son asks, “Where are the photos of my first days at kinder?”, I’m gonna have to say iCloud got hacked but only those specific photos got deleted.

Copyright © 2019, KN J Tales and Snippets. All rights reserved.

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AGE OF REASON

Henry, my three-year-old son holds a chicken nugget and pretends it’s a person.

This is my Mummy, she’s short and round.

Cue a muffled half-snort-laugh from the husband and an all-out cackle from the seven-year-old daughter. Ha-di-ha-ha.

Apparently, children don’t develop a brain filter until about seven years of age, give or take a year. Until then, children will give you unfiltered truth as they see it and it can be hard to hear.

Like the time my son gave me his assessment of everyone’s role in the family.

Daddy’s job is going to work. Mandy’s job is going to school. My job is playing. And Mummy’s job is yelling.

I almost spat my coffee in surprise, and that surely would have ended in some yelling.

As children grow older, changes to their brain development means that there are greater cognitive capacities for processing emotions and showing empathy.

So situations like this won’t happen. You can only hope.

Me: Can you get me some toilet paper from the other toilet, please?
Henry: No, I don’t want to.
Me: Henry! Get me the toilet paper!
Henry: Fine. I can’t open the door. (Ten minutes of negotiating a door handle)
Henry: Here. (Throws the package at my feet)
Me: They are wipes! I need toilet paper!
Henry: Just use it!
Me: No! Please, please, please get me the toilet paper.
Henry: Okay. Here.
Me: This one’s too little. There’s almost no paper left. I need another one.
Henry: No. I got you one.
Me: You can watch all the TV you want if you get me another one.
Henry: (brings me a bagful and leaves to watch TV)

They begin to develop their own internalised sense of right and wrong, and hence, understand and respect rules.

We all know that it’s important to respect rules, especially ones that our parents make. Like using manners with greetings and farewells. While I wait for my son to develop a healthy respect for rules, instead of the standard goodbye, he may say this…

GOOOOOOOD BYYYYYEEEE BumFace.

Along with emotional development, they become better at problem-solving, identifying patterns and using logic to questions.

Henry has begun understanding these concepts. Just like how he waits until his Mummy is busy homeschooling his big sister to grab the Nintendo controller and hide behind the couch to turn on Animal Crossing, his favourite video game. I believe that’s a form of identifying patterns and using logic. And hey, it doesn’t matter that he can’t read, he just button bashes until he gets the results he wants. That is called problem-solving.

I have four years until Henry reaches the “age of reason”. In the meantime, I’ll have to dig deep, pull out the big parenting guns, use open communication and guide him along the way. Next time we’re stopped on our walk by the waving elderly man, maybe he won’t whisper loudly, “Why is that man waving like a weirdo?”

Copyright © 2019, KN J Tales and Snippets. All rights reserved.

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MONKEY SEE, MONKEY DO

It’s a common understanding that part of good parenting involves modelling good behaviours. Children are imitators, so you can’t tell them to do something but not do it yourself. The mentality of “do as I say, not as I do” is simply unacceptable. You have to lead by example because your children look to you as their role models, they learn how to behave, act and deal with life situations by watching you. If you want your kids to have good manners, show them by saying YOUR pleases and thank-yous. If you don’t want your kids swearing, don’t curse in front of them, even if a moron cuts in front of you and nearly side swipes your car. Your children are a reflection of you, in the emotional and behavioural sense. Effectively, you are on public display, open for view and imitation twenty-four-seven.

In writing all that, I can admit that I am not a great role model. I act on whims, with logical and rational reasoning often taking a backseat. I can be a sarcastic, pessimistic, undisciplined, glass-half-empty, stubborn type of person. My epitaph would probably read “Consistent in her inconsistencies”.

So I can’t really complain when my seven-year-old throws her wet towel on the floor or grumble when I have to unravel underwear from her inside out pants while sorting laundry. I can’t call her a slob because I would essentially be calling myself one, seeing I can’t adhere to my own rules.

I’m constantly nagging my kids to drink more water but I happily drink coffee and tea instead. Talk about being a hypocrite!

How can I scold my daughter for being a hoarder, tucking away her possessions and never being able to find anything when she is a by-product of my habits? My father in-law just the other day asked where the old relic of a juicing machine he gave me was, and seriously, it could have been misplaced in the linen closet for all I knew!

And when my toddler started to point his tiny finger at me and say, “I want you to do it right this minute young lady!”, who do I have to blame for that?

Like most parents, I make sure my children feel loved and supported, are well-fed, dressed in clean clothes, help with school readers, try to volunteer where I can, take them to social events and extra-curricula activities.

I know that I’m not a terrible mother, but I struggle to focus and I find it exhausting being mindful as a parent. Despite it all, I continue to try.

This week when I found myself with homework that tested my patience and ability, I was quick to chuck a self-pity party and throw in the towel. I had spat the dummy and thrown an embarrassing toddler tantrum. My daughter started homework that same week and when prompted, her responses fell between “I don’t want to do it” and “it’s too hard”. Coincidence much?

I had to dig deep and do some self-reflection. What was I teaching my kids? What effects were my actions having on them? Am I being the role model that I want to be? How am I shaping my children for the future?

If I want my daughter to face challenges with aplomb, to learn from mistakes and not be afraid of trying, to be resilient and persevere, I had to pull my finger out and set the example.

So I sat down, batted away the self-doubt and attempted to do my homework. I tried and failed multiple times. I practiced and practiced until I produced a piece that I felt content with. I had done my homework to the best of my ability. I gave it a go.

Not surprisingly, my daughter also decided to give her homework a go.

The results got me thinking… maybe I’ll become a vegetarian. Do you reckon my children will want to eat their veggies then?

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