Jonah got a haircut yesterday.
A very short time ago, we DREADED haircut day. We used to go to this place in the mall. Jonah would scream to high heaven. Seriously. You could hear him 10 stores away. It took 3 people to cut his hair because he flailed so much. He used to sit on my lap while I held his hands down. My wife would hold some sort of screen (tablet, phone, etc.) in front of him in the hopes that he would be distracted and the stylist would basically pin his head to her chest and go as quickly as possible.
That was years ago. We have learned. We don’t “do” the mall anymore.
We found a great little place that caters exclusively to kids. They have a little play area complete with video games, a train table, a lego table, and toys to play with and climb on.
Going there became a “fun” thing for both my boys. Jonah really only had issues the first few times we went there. But after every haircut, we stayed and played for a while. And each time we went back, things would go a little smoother.
In the early visits, he sat on his own (but wouldn’t wear a cape, and wouldn’t allow the “small clippers” around his ears and certainly NO hair dryer).
A few visits later, he allowed the “small clippers” but held his shirt over his eyes in order to “tough out” the sensation.
But we’ve always had “one thing” that Jonah wouldn’t do for haircuts. He wouldn’t wear the cape. Hair would go all over him. We would have to change his entire outfit.
Fast-forward to yesterday. We forgot to bring a change of clothes. Rookie mistake. So, we ventured to see if Jojo would try the cape this time.
This one last thing…
And guess what? Jonah wore the cape. He sat willingly in the seat. He allowed the stylist to tilt his head and he held still. He let the stylist use whatever clippers she wanted and even let her use the hair dryer when she was done. He didn’t need ANY distractions.
He didn’t even care about staying afterwards to play.
Honestly, he did better than ANY of the other kids there (including his big brother!)
Yesterday, we conquered haircuts.
There was another little boy getting his hair cut and he was screaming. I watched him, remembering how, not too long ago, that was us. His [mother?] looked around, embarrassed.
She apologized to me. She told me his ‘real’ mother was abusive and that’s why he was acting the way he was. She felt the need to justify his behavior.
I know the feeling… very well.
So it got to me. But I didn’t know how to empathise. I wanted to tell her that my son is autistic and we have been in the same situation. But then again, my ‘autistic son’ just ROCKED his haircut while her son was screaming. I didn’t think it would provide much comfort.
I told her it was fine, that we had been there too, with Jonah screaming and the like, and that we have worked very hard to get to where we are now.
And then a funny thing happened.
Jonah started walking over to where the crying little boy was sitting with a concerned look on his face. It was Jonah’s time to play with the toys, but that day, he felt compelled to stand next to the little boy instead, and it looked like he was trying to reassure him. He looked at him with almost a little reassuring smile.
Letting him know that things would be okay.
“You will get through it. Just like I did!”