First, if you did not read part one, you can click here to catch it. Now back to Dr. J’s hair cut.
Are you familiar with those toy machines with big claws? You see them at grocery stores and restaurants. You put money in, and you hope you are smarter than the machine. You believe you will be one of the few to be successful at pulling out the toy you really want. I’m guessing there’s also a part of you that knows you probably won’t.
That’s how I felt when Dr. J and I walked into the little barber shop. I had found the same place Daddy had taken him to last time. Inside was small, but quiet–no radio blaring overhead. Surely these were signs of good things to come!
We walked in, took off our jackets, signed in, and waited. Someone ten feet away turned on some clippers, and Dr. J jumped. “Oh, that surprised me!” he said. “Oh boy,” I thought.
|Provided by http://www.clker.com|
When it was our turn, Dr. J happily walked back to the work area. As we approached, the nice lady put a booster seat/cushion up on the chair. She told Dr. J to climb up, which he started to do until he realized what he was climbing on. Something different. Before I had a chance to explain Dr. J’s sensory issues or autism, the good karma was gone. He started shutting down.
I explained that Dr. J doesn’t like surprises, so could she please move the chair slowly. I explained that Dr. J doesn’t like his head touched or water sprayed on it, so I suggested spraying her hand and then running her hand over his head. As he was not cooperating, I explained that Dr. J was like the boy who has Asperger’s syndrome on the TV show Parenthood. I explained, and I steeled myself.
I won’t give you the play-by-play, drawn-out version of the story. Let’s just say Dr. J put up a big fight. He sat in my lap, ducking his head, trying to get out, and yes, kicking, crying, yelling, etc. I am so thankful for our stylist’s patience and calm. She did not yell at Dr. J (or me, for that matter). She did not give me condemning looks. She simply kept at it, working carefully and around my fingers grasping his head. She even told me what days she worked so Dr. J could return to a familiar face. I thanked her profusely for her patience.
Remember, this was a small place, and my child was making everyone in it uncomfortable. I’m guessing some of them wished we would just leave. I can’t say I blame them. It’s not pleasant to listen to a child screaming.
I had brought cash with me, the amount based on what my husband had told me the last cut cost. I double checked the price, and it was actually a bit less because of the time of day. I handed her my whole wad of cash, making sure she knew her tip was included. It was about a 70% tip. I considered it battle pay, remembering how Laura Shumaker mentioned in her book that she had done similar things.
I managed not to cry, and made it through the rest of the day. Of course Dr. J was off kilter for much of the rest of the day. He needed some space to regroup. He needed to be by himself.
Later in the day, it occurred to me. Perhaps it is more than just not wanting his head to be touched. Maybe he is actually frightened. You’re probably thinking, “Really. You just figured that out.” Well, when you’re always watching for hyper-sensory issues, sometimes you forget about fear issues.
So, I sat with Dr. J and asked him. “Do you not like your hair cut because you’re afraid?”
“What are you afraid of?” I prodded, hoping he wouldn’t shut down.
“The scissors,” came his simple reply.
“I’m sorry you’re afraid of the scissors.” And I held him. I held him to let him know I really was sorry, that I felt badly about his fear and pain. I held him to show him I loved him despite our morning ordeal. I held him to comfort my heart.
The next day I called the shop and asked to speak to the boss. When she got on the line, I shared with her how good the lady had been with my autistic son. I explained he had given her a run for her money, but she did not let him fluster her, and she treated us just like everyone else. I wanted her to know I appreciated her staff member. She thanked me and assured me she would pass on my phone call.
And that, dear readers, is how our hair cut experience went last Monday. I’m guessing it was repeated in various salons and homes around the world. I’m guessing many moms and dads were holding little boys and girls, trying to calm fears.
So, back to your fears. Maybe you don’t like that scary tarantula picture I put on part one. Let’s say you were forced to sit in a chair as tarantulas crawled on you. Would you do it again? I wouldn’t.
Amazingly, these brave children will try again.