When we were kids it was common for mothers to cut their kid’s hair. Maybe that’s still common but no kid would be getting their hair colored or streaked, which is possible today. Haircuts weren’t fancy and involved the most basic; either a shearing like a sheep or a cut across a straight line and that was it. These hairstyles were pretty much pre-teen years because by the age of twelve and up my mother definitely heard some complaints on her skills.
Mothers often cut their children’s hair in a way that’s manageable for mom or for the children: not too long or tangly, not having to deal with frequent groomings, barrettes, clips or getting in the eyes. My own hairstyle was what is known as the pageboy; bangs with a square cut ending around the chin. With my little round face I looked like a pumpkin. I didn’t particularly like it and it sometimes involved some sort of thinning thing that pretty much was a razor blade to cut layers into the hair. By the time I was eleven I was begging my mother to let me wash my own hair (her treatments were brutally painful) and to grow it. I was allowed to as long as I kept it clean and neat. That was the end of short hair forever for me, except for one hairstylist disaster in my early 20s.
My brothers, on the other hand, may have actually had more travails with their hair than I did. And my sister might have escaped it all. I’m not sure as she was older and I believe had long hair even as a child, when there were fewer of us to get in my mother’s hair.
My mother gave my brothers a pretty utilitarian haircut, which involved one of thus buzzers and something shorter than a crew-cut, which is usually long enough on top to stand up like astroturf for an inch. No muss no fuss. However, my mother had the habit of getting into a role when she cut. I don’t know if she’d seen the Bugs Bunny cartoon where he’s doing haircuts to Elmer Fudd and singing Figaro, but it’s reported that she did sing Figaro while cutting my older brother’s hair. My mother isn’t a singer but she gave it great gusto, her hands getting involved in the emotive piece. And my brother’s buzzcut was so short that he had a pink landing strip down the middle of his noggin. He went to school like this where a teacher commented that he looked like he’d been hit by a low hanging beam.
My younger brother Brent, the youngest of four, the monkey, that kid who threw caution to the wind, had a slightly different style. It involved the short back cut but for some reason, maybe even it was the fashion for little boys at that point, he had a swath of hair that came from midcrown to a point on his forehead. Brent was probably four or five when this style began and he named it his peaky. I think he quite loved that peaky and it served to help in the future when he had a little mishap.
Brent was always the one most likely to break something, whether himself or in the house. He liked to chase my sister and me around the house, when he was about three or four, with a stick in his hand, calling out that he was going to beat us and make us cry like babies. Brent was quite adventuresome as a child. One night Brent went to bed, but instead of just sleeping he fell asleep chewing gum.
One’s mouth does tend to relax during sleep and the gum went walkabout, ending up stuck to Brent’s very short hair, missing his peaky. However, instead of alerting my mother to the problem, my brother surreptitiously clawed the gum out of his hair, leaving a nice clear-cut patch of pink on the side of his head. He was quite a sensitive kid and luckily for him it was winter. He wore a toque for the next month until his hair grew back.
We all survived the hairstyles of childhood. My sister and I still have long hair. My brothers have varying stages of baldness so haircuts are not as much an issue. And my mother; she retired from her thankfully short hairstyling career.