“Grandma Cut Off My Ear”–A Lesson about Resistance

Screen Shot 2013-08-23 at 7.45.17 AM“She poked me!” Declan cried. We’re getting his hair cut. Declan hates haircuts. He cries and resists.  If I were our hairdresser, I’d accidentally cut out his tongue.

I dread taking Declan for haircuts. He makes a big, loud fuss. Our hairdresser recently moved to a spa-salon where everyone takes their beauty very, very seriously. No six-year old boy belongs in a spa-salon where everyone takes their beauty and fashion very, very seriously. Heck, I don’t belong at a spa-salon where everyone takes their beauty and fashion very, very seriously–maybe he inherited the no-fashion gene from me. But at least I don’t cry and scream, disturbing women relaxing with their facials and manicures.

“Remember when Louie the Barber scared me?”

Screen Shot 2013-08-23 at 7.41.52 AM“Yes.” I said. “You were two. He scared you. You’re fine now.”  When Declan arrived at the stage of toddlerhood where his gender became unclear and I started confusing him with a dirty sheep or sandy breed of French poodle, it was time to get a real haircut. My limited skills would no longer do.

My husband said, “No hairdresser. Let him go to the barber with the men.” My dad was going the barber. I asked him to take the poodle along too. I went for support.

The barbershop was small, with enough hair piled on the floor that an 80’s metal band must’ve been the last set of customers. There wasn’t a canister of antiseptic in sight. The band probably drank it after running out of Everclear. The barber was a real old-timer. The medicine pole remained from when they really did do surgery in this specific shop.

The barber found a booster seat, swinging Declan into the chair. Declan screamed. The barber, undeterred, held him down, snipping away. Declan screamed and thrashed, but the barber continued, only narrowly avoiding a stabbing, mullet, or mohawk disaster.

Declan’s hysteria lasted weeks.

“Aren’t they supposed to disinfect the scissors or sweep the hair?” I asked my dad. I didn’t know, I’m not a guy. Girl places are pretty particular about these things, but maybe guys don’t care about infections, germs, gym socks, or dirt. We didn’t return. I resumed the hair cutting duties a while longer.

Then, Grandma intervened.  She’s always been good at haircutting. Declan wheeled his head around. She stabbed his ear.

“AHHHHHHH!” Grandma did not get a good review on Yelp that day.

So, now, we are at the hairdresser. This total saint of a woman is much more of a psychologist than stylist.

“I don’t need a haircut,” Declan informs her. She tells him he does and asks him about dinosaurs and upcoming first grade.

“Remember when Grandma cut my ear off?” He responds.  She checks for signs of van Gogh.

“Grandma did not cut your ear off. It’s still there,” she says. “I won’t cut your ear off. I’ll be quick.” He cries. Spa customers watch. The one nearest says, “Oh, my grandson…” I think the lady in the leggings just shot us a dagger. Declan is still crying and there is a strip of hair cut down the back of his head. It will not do to leave now. Our hairdresser promises she will cut his hair in ten snips. It takes twelve. He tells her.

We escape, I tip, probably not nearly enough. I will bring a gift when I go next week.

I take the boy for ice cream.

“You only cried once today,” I say. “But you’re six now. Next time you won’t even need to cry at all.” A little neurolinguistic programming never hurts. Best to start setting up for the next haircut now.

Amazing how such little things from our past build up so much resistance and stagnation in our lives. The smallest things spiral into bigger and bigger problems and fears until we become incapacitated. This resistance makes us push when we should be pulling, avoid when we should be tackling, and judge when we should be seeing the full picture.

This isn’t only a six-year old’s truth. Often times it’s true for me as well.

I think that means I get some ice cream, too.



[images: doblelol.com, pxleyes.com]



Tardiness, Cluelessness, and Lack of Balance

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I was going to a conference on a topic that I suspected was not going to be exciting. My boss suggested I go, and since he’s right about many things, I decided to listen. I was not really excited about the topic, but I figured I’d survive till 2PM with enough fully charged devices, so I went.

I tried to be on time–there is never an excuse for being late in my book. I’d make it to work early in the snow. People two feet down the road would show up an hour late and try to pull the weather card.

“It’s snowing! Gee, thanks, Jim Cantore–try this–watch the weather, get up early, and leave your house. That’s what people do.

In Rhode Island, there’s pretty much never an excuse for being late other than “I’m inept.” I’ve been struggling with this one myself lately since our move to the forest.  My mind refuses to acknowledge the fact that I’m geographically farther from work on a road frequented by farm and recycling trucks with no passing zones. I can’t seem to comprehend that I cannot physically leave at the Old Time and get to work early. It’s neurolinguistic programming–habits and ruts that we build deep in our minds that we have to reprogram.  This is a deep one.

But there is never an excuse for tardiness in a state the size of a yardstick. Even in the unfortunate event of a traffic pileup, it’s possible to get off the exit, which in Rhode Island is probably six feet down the road, and back-road it the rest of the way.  People don’t though–they’ll sit in traffic instead.

“I didn’t know how to get around it.”  That’s why the Lord invented GPS.  Even if your iPhone mocks you by sending you random places, in this state, you can’t be too far off.  Just follow the direction of the sun and stars. You’ll still get there on time.

But for this conference, I was late. Perhaps it was my motivation level that day.  I walked in five minutes after the appointed time. Generally, this is okay for teacher functions because teachers take more than five minutes to chat and get coffee, then even more time ignoring requests to listen. I figured I could slip in unnoticed.

There was another participant walking in late. I walked in with her. We chatted on the way from the parking lot.  Finally, I did the right thing–I introduced myself.

“You look familiar,” I said.  “My name is Dawn.”

“I know,” she replied. “I work with you.”

Indeed, she did. She was hired at the beginning of the year, we had talked once or twice, and then I retreated to my classroom. I haven’t left since.

How do you recover from that?  There is no way to dig out of stupidity that deep. I was forced to go with the classic, “My bad,” which includes an offer to buy lunch. That’s the last resort when admitting you are dumber than tree mould.

That would have been tragic enough if I hadn’t done it once before. I did it in my own neighborhood after living there a good half-decade. I was in my next-door neighbor’s yard. She had a friend over chatting. I introduced myself.

“I know. I’m your neighbor across the street.”  I had waved to the woman for six years, but when I saw her twenty feet over into the next yard, completely out of context, she was unrecognizable to me. In the end, though, she delivered my son. She turned out to be the maternity ward nurse.

I’m not sure what the moral of this story is. Maybe that we’re not as neighborly as we used to be and that everyone is so busy dealing with their own stuff that we’ve lost that sense of community. That work really has become a rat race, and that we don’t break out of our molds and habits enough to pay attention. That the speeding up of the world forces us to dullen ourselves to personal experiences around us…That we lack balance in so many areas of our lives.

Yesterday, I was copy-editing a pile of senior thesis papers. There was one about the evils of social media. After checking my Twitter twice, I finished reading the paper, whose thesis was apparently that social media has horrific effects on the teen developmental mind. It turns them into antisocial malcontents who lack balance and can’t have a real phone conversation or interact in person. I’m thinking of a conversation I had with a great friend whose one flaw is that he never calls back, “I’m not good at the phone, but I rock it in person.”

Society has changed. It’s faster, more efficient, has lots more cool gadgets. But my senior was right, even as I said, “Nuh-uh,” throughout the whole thesis. At times, the world speeds up so much that I sometimes lack balance. Though I get tons more done, I rush from thing to thing, apparently missing some really cool people at the same time.

I was at a meeting tonight, where a local superstar educational leader** discussed that very concept, suggesting that working hard in the field of education was critical, but that we need time for our families, too. We need balance.  We need to prioritize, slow down and attend to what is important–our loved ones. He was right. I’ve often felt it ironic that I save the world’s children while at times ignoring my own. I’m improving.

Balance is difficult. I always seem to do better during food production season when there are veggies and fruits to grow, things to can, and nature to watch. While there are plenty of tasks that need doing, the fact that I get to stop and watch something grow makes me marvel at the moment–and reminds me to just sit and be. To enjoy the gift of the present and to consider that nature cannot be rushed, that we must enjoy its seasons. To realize this is to discover the smallest part of the meaning of life. It is the essence of balance.

[Plug: The educational leader in question is a co-moderator of #Edchatri, one of my favorite Twitter chats. It’s on Sundays at 8PM, and it’s not just RI anymore! Check it out!]

[image: www.creatememe.com]