Today I paid $20 for a $10 haircut... and couldn't be happier.
I took Bianca to get her haircut today, and as soon as we walked into the place, she started to melt down. I sat her in my lap to try and keep her calm but she wanted none of it. She was flailing about, grinding her teeth, trying to head-butt me and kicking all over… and the stylist had yet to even touch her.
As Bianca weeps uncontrollably I wonder why I even bothered giving our name ahead of time and killing time at Target. The whole reason I didn’t stick around was because I didn’t want Bianca to get agitated while waiting. I was trying to be Superdad and was out with my three kids and adult male cousin who is great with our kids, but certainly not used to Bianca blowing a gasket in a public place. My bride was attending the graduation of a family friend and I wanted to surprise her with a new summer “do” for Binks.
A very meek and demure looking lady looked at me as two of my kids were chasing after one another like maniacs and Bianca was in hysterics and hesitantly asks who I was with. “Bianca” I reply while giving a head gesture towards the kid who is now on the floor with tears streaming down her face and snot bubbles coming out of her nose.
“Are you ready?” she asked.
“I am… not so sure about her though.” I replied with a shrug and that state of calm that we autism parents can go to as the world around us is in a complete state of disarray.
I sat in the chair and plopped Bianca in my lap. This was a piece of cake when she was 4, but is really much more of a chore now that she is 8 and weighs 52 pounds. Bianca is one smart cookie though, and as we all know forgets nothing. She knows that she has gotten her hair cut at this place before and is now in complete panic mode. Nothing is working; not my phone or scripting her favorite shows, not deep pressure hugs or singing our favorite songs. Yet while all of this is going on, the very slight and quiet lady starts to brush Bianca’s hair gently working the brush through knots and tangles.
Any time she would get some hair detangled and brushed out, Bianca would fling her head to make her hair shift or just grab her hair and mess it up. The lady would back off, wait, smile and start all over again. She must have done this a hundred times. She finally got to a point where she could start to spray Bianca’s hair down but as she did Bianca was still losing it. Now she was saying, “Rain, rain go away”, “Water”, “Agua”, “Hair” and going limp so that I could not hold her. Still, the beautician was patient and took advantage of opportunities as she got them.
As all Hell is breaking loose in my chair, an older gentleman gets seated right next to us. There were 6 other chairs that were empty in the place, it just so happened to be this guy’s luck that the two people working had their stations right next to one another. Do you know that this guy got his entire haircut done while Bianca was in the throes of despair and I did not get ONE look… not one stare? And I was waiting for it. I had the apology and explanation ready to go. It was like we weren’t even there and believe me there was no way to miss the side show that was this.
The stylist tried to put Bianca’s hair in clips so that she could do a proper job, but she quickly realized that it wasn’t going to work. She looked at me with a smile and quietly said, “I am sorry, but I am afraid that I will not be able to cut her hair. I am really afraid that I could cut her, myself or that her hair would not be even and I would hate to give her a bad cut. Maybe we try another day?”
I told her that I understood and asked her if I could have a few minutes with Bianca to see if I couldn’t calm her down. I let her stand in front of me and got her interested in watching YouTube videos on my phone and as Bianca stood there watching Dora on my phone, the lady started delicately brushing Bianca’s hair. She then showed Bianca the brush they use to powder people with and she loved the soft feel of the brush on her face. She watched her video and played with the brush and then Bianca began to settle down, smile and started doing her happy scripting. As she did, slowly and delicately the stylist began to snip away at her hair.
Every once in a while Bianca would put her hands up or flip her hair around and the beautician would step back, smile and then resume.
All in all, it took a little over an hour for Bianca to get her haircut. In that hour I never saw Phyllis express one ounce of frustration. She never had a snarky comment or tone. I never felt judged as being a bad parent or for having an out of control kid. All she did was to give Bianca a cute haircut with kindness and patience. So thank you Phyllis at the Supercuts in Merrillville, Indiana. Your demeanor helped to put this dad at ease.