Jax will be three next month, and I’ve never cut his hair.
His wild curls are usually the first thing people notice about him—in the grocery store, at the playground, on Instagram. Everyone, especially women, says the same thing: Don’t you dare cut it yet.
Look, no one has to say that. No one on this earth loves that hair more than I do. When the air is humid, those waves become pin curls you couldn’t replicate with a salon-quality curling iron. It’s softer than the softest baby blanket, and it always smells good, no matter what sticky lunch filth he’s raked through it.
One day a few months ago, I was driving and Jax was watching a DVD from his car seat and having a snack. A gummy snack. I’d reach behind me, feel for his seat’s cup holder, and put two gummies at a time in it. He’d eat them and say, more peassss. I’d hand back two more. Everything was fine until I heard him say ouch (except he can’t pronounce C-H’s and I can’t phonetically type out how what he says sounds). I looked in the rearview and he was pulling on a mass of those curls over the right side of his forehead. I knew before I knew. Gummies had met hair.
I couldn’t stop laughing. I’m either a bad mom or a chill mom, I don’t know. It was so funny. He has a habit, as so many kids do, of half-chewing food, then taking it out of his mouth, studying it with clinical intensity, and then putting it somewhere else that it doesn’t belong. This time, it was in his own hair.
It was his face that made me laugh. I know he’d been trying to get it unstuck before I noticed, because we sort of have this talk a lot: Jax, don’t play with your food. Jax, food goes in your mouth. Jax, you’re making a mess. Jax, don’t put that on your head. JACKSON, seriously, leave it in your MOUTH.
Poor little busted punkin. I see you back there.
So we got to where we were going and I hopped in the back and tried to peel the gummy, one chunk at a time, off the strands of that looooong, baby-fine hair—which was sort of like trying to dry him off while he’s still in the tub. I got a good bit out, but it was obvious some of it would need cut. It didn’t turn out badly; you can’t even really tell.
But even while laughing, I had this sad mom ache because it was the first time I realized, I’m going to have to cut his hair eventually. This awesome mop he’s been working on, unchecked, since the day he was born with only that little dark patch sweeping his forehead, right where the gummy got stuck almost three years later…
Then there’s the fact that, when your child is born 15 weeks early, you kinda want to keep all evidence of growth. Even the hair.
I’ve heard other moms bemoan this milestone. Some snip a curl for themselves before making the trip to the salon or barber.
I could keep it. Where it grows, I mean—not cut it, let those curls unravel past his shoulders. If I comb it straight down when it’s wet, it covers his eyes. In the back, it tickles the bottom of his neck. I could put product in it! Mousse or gel, really play those curls up! Is that ridiculous? Probably.
The time is coming. I think? I don’t know. I don’t want to, and I do. I find stuff in his hair. Not just gummies, but crumbs, and lint, and bits of sticker, and once, a ladybug.
What would you do? If you have kids, when did you first cut their hair, and what was the deciding factor?