Isaac had his first haircut over the weekend. We felt both kids' hair had grown too long and it was time to tidy them up. And children with neat hair get more Ang Pows (Red Packets) during Chinese New Year (my theory).
As with any simple family chore like a kids' haircut, the browns have to turn it into an event. Four of us trooped into the neighbourhood hair salon — Mommy and Daddy, Faith and Isaac. Daddy was armed with his 1.3 Megapixel camera phone.
We brought them to the hairdresser downstairs. This was an HDB neighbourhood hair salon that was a six-seater, with complete facilities, and a very roomy interior. Run by a grand total of one person, the proprietor. You could hear echoes in the shop.
It was not what you would call a posh Toni & Guy kind of place, more like Toni & No Guy. Its latest upgrade was a multimedia retrofit — the ancient 14-inch TV set is now hooked up via a very long cable running up to the ceiling, to a proper SCV cable point located upstairs, instead of just using a portable antenna like before. Wah, clear Channel 8 signal, instead of snowy one.
He kept still, mostly, but we still had to hold him down a few times so that the hairdresser could cut his hair and not his head. He was sometimes distracted by the hairdresser's 7-year-old son, who was running around and playing in the shop. Isaac is a baby who squirms even when we are changing his diaper, so this cooperation was quite welcome.
When Isaac's makeover was done, he looked like a young punk. I think the short hair made him look even more mischievous. But 15 months without a haircut was just unacceptable, so the locks had to go. And I hear hair gel, Brylcreem (the official PAP hair cream: "it's white colour and gives you full control"), and clay can be very harsh on baby hair.
Faith was next. She was a little harder to handle. She spent the first minute chewing on the blue sheet, and later tried to remove the sheet, because she wanted out. Maybe she only wanted top male stylists to touch her hair. Either that, or the feeling of being wrapped in some alien material and forced to sit on a plank, while looking at the reflection of a strange woman running a sharp object over your head, was just a little too much for her.
In the end, the hairdresser had to cut her hair without the sheet, leading to hair falling all over her bib and top.
Then the hairdresser tried to use the motorised hair-clipper, before I had a chance to say. "My autistic daughter will get frightened by that whirring sound." But the sound of the clipper drowned out my warning, and as I predicted, Faith got upset, even more fidgety, and determined to get out of this gig. She stuck her fingers into her ears to shut the sound out, even after the hair-clipper was turned off. That made my wife and me very amused, and of course proud of our little girl for responding appropriately to loud sounds that annoy her.
The hairdresser did manage to cut her hair, although it was not Haute Couture or award-winning material. At least it got her hair away from her eyes. I decided to get my hair cut too, so Mommy took the kids back upstairs, while I stayed behind for my Cut and Wash. I got a nice shoulder massage too. The only peeve I had was the extra $2 I had to pay for the traditional Chinese New Year Hairdresser Markup. I suppose even hairdressers have to give Ang Pows.