My Declaration of Independence Via The Haircut

Each day in March, I’m participating in the Slice of Life challenge, hosted by Two Writing Teachers. You can visit their site here. This is my slice for Day 24.

I gave myself a haircut today.  It had been getting pretty shaggy of late, and in the spirit of spring cleaning, I decided to take a little off the top. A lot actually. I’ll spare you photographic evidence, but suffice it to say that my bathroom garbage can looked like a fur-ball convention went through a shredder. 

It’s kind of liberating, really. I can feel the crisp spring breeze on my noggin. My baseball caps aren’t quite so snug. I’ll even save a few seconds on the combing routine each morning. 

Cutting my own hair is an expression of independence. Sure, it is no grand statement of sticking-it-to-the-man. I’m not stepping out to rage against the machine. But it is a way for me to say that there are some things in life that I can do on my own, and be satisfied with the results. I may need to hire an electrician for specialized wiring renovation tasks, but I can handle most everything else with the home. I may need to see a dentist to drill in a tooth, but I can brush them just fine. I may fork out the bucks to get my engine looked at, but I can add the oil when needed.

So it is with my hair. No stylist necessary. Nothing fancy. I got this.

I’ve been cutting it for years. I’d like to think it is a small way for me to “shave” a little spending and keep the budget “clean and trim”. I’m not sure that I’ve saved enough money over the years to buy season tickets to my beloved White Sox, but perhaps I’ve saved enough to enter myself into a few more marathons this season.

I’m reminded of the first time I cut my own hair. I was a junior in high school, and forging my own independence at the expense of my widowed mother of five. She kept telling me to go to the barber to get a haircut, and I kept putting it off. I liked my hair long. Wild. I didn’t want to be told when to cut it, or how much to take off.

I was making my case to be independent.

The tussle went on for several weeks. Mom kept putting the money on the table, and asking / telling / nagging me to go. I kept delaying / ignoring / refusing, all while my hair kept growing. Over my eyes. Well past the collar line. Long and flowing, of its’ own free will.

Until the day of the homecoming dance. 

I was finally ready to get it cut. I wanted to look nice for my date. Put on a suit. Get a corsage. Shine up the shoes. And get a haircut. I let Mom know I was ready to see the barber and she smiled and sent me on my way.

Without the money. 

Since getting the haircut was now on my terms, she wanted me to pay for it myself. To be independent. I didn’t have enough money for the dance, the flowers, and the dinner, so I decided to save a little by cutting it myself.

Nothing fancy. I got this.

I grabbed a pair of scissors from the kitchen drawer and went into the bathroom. Trying to recall the steps my barber would take, I rinsed my hair, and combed it all straight down. Next, I cut a perfect-ish line across the bangs.


That was easy. 

Then it dried. And seemingly shrunk.

Staring out from the mirror was my face, beneath what resembled a hairy frisbee stuck on my head. Think Jim Carrey from Dumb and Dumber. 

I was mortified. The dance was just hours away, and I was freaking out. What could I do? I could call her and tell her I had gotten terribly sick. I could try to pull off looking suave by wearing a hat. I could raise my forehead all night, hoping it would make my hair appear to be longer, (although my expression might look like I was hiding from the law or had serious constipation issues). 

I pulled and yanked and stretched my bangs, but the damage was done. I decided to face the music. And my date. And Mom.

Welcome to independence. Sometimes those first steps on your own are painful. In photos from that evening, I looked so uncomfortable. So embarrassed. In a crowd of people, I was profoundly alone.

My youngest daughter is the same age now. Her declarations of independence are outwardly different, but inwardly similar. I find myself often having to ask / tell / nag her to do many things, while she often delays / ignores / refuses my instruction. It is a dance of parents with teens who are finding their own way. Teens who sometimes feel alone in the midst of a crowd. Teens who feel awkward as they navigate peer relationships and adult expectations, while their future rapidly bears down on them.

When I look in the mirror, I see a glimpse of my younger self, mortified and embarrassed. I feel a little pity for him, and a little patience for my own teenager, understanding that the transition to independence isn’t always pretty, but with a little patience I can say – I got this.



12 thoughts on “My Declaration of Independence Via The Haircut

  1. Now I see what you mean from your comment – we definitely had some similarities going on in our writing today – so funny! “I got this.” Do you listen to Bruce Springsteen? There’s a monologue that he does on one of his live albums before the song “Growin’ Up” when he talks about his long hair as a teenager and how much his dad hated it. It came to my mind as I read your post.

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  2. Such a set of stories. I love how the action you took today helps you to wind into the story of you as a teen. I’m thinking of that old CSN song, Find the Cost of Freedom.

    Beautifully crafted, this.

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  3. I love how your mom handled your independence and I love how you turned the smile act of cutting your own hair into some profoundly important thoughts about being a teen. A lovely Slice of Life.

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  4. I thought a lot about how Mr. cuts all the hair in this house (except mine) with a Flo-Bee. (It’s real. If I could slice about it, I would…) I wonder about the independence that you speak of when the boys actually start caring about their hair! I love how this story started out with your perspective as the one growing up and finding his way!

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