One of my guilty pleasures is reality TV. On a recent episode of Survivor, one of the tribes won a reward challenge granting them the gift of a hearty breakfast of eggs, bread, and fresh fruit. As one of the castaways sank her teeth into that first bite of juicy watermelon, she started to sob. One by one, other castaways began to cry, too. Soon, nearly the whole table was in tears, then laughter, as they enjoyed the abundance of food. When asked what made her start crying, she answered, “I had not had a real meal in 17 days. I was just overwhelmed.”
It’s one of the truths of the human condition that we value things far greater, when we become intimately acquainted with the alternative. No one so values their health as he who has experienced dire illness. There is no one so satisfied with the financial blessing they have than he who has suffered extreme poverty. Sorrow makes us appreciate joy.
It is in this spirit that I can count this past year among the most joyful that I have ever experienced. There have been many sorrowful moments, but as I have watched Luke overcome each obstacle, that sorrow has given rise to a thankfulness and joy that I would not otherwise know — like haircuts.
Haircuts have always been very challenging. I knew that the barber shop was out of the question. The experience of a haircut sends Luke into sensory overload and results in a total meltdown. When Luke was a baby I would wait until he was napping before I would sneak into his room to trim his bangs and the locks at the nape of his neck and around his ears. Once he got older, and stopped taking naps, I was forced to deal with it head on.
I thought about just shaving it off, but Luke has such beautiful sandy blonde hair that it made my heart ache to think of him bald. In the end, I purchased a FlowBee. It’s an attachment that cuts your hair by sucking it into a vacuum and trimming anything beyond a specific length. I didn’t think Luke would like it, but I figured that it would at least be faster and have less chance of poking an eye out during the inevitable fight that would ensue.
I would wait an average of six months between haircuts, until Luke had a long, shaggy, mop-topped hairdo. My husband and I would call him “Frodo” because he looked like a little hobbit. I would endure numerous well-meaning comments from mothers who would say things like, “Don’t you ever cut his hair?” Then, when the day finally came that it could not be put off another minute, my husband would wrap Luke in a bear hug and I would do the deed, while Luke screamed, panicked and helplessly struggled to get away, leaving everyone involved adequately traumatized.
Four weeks ago was Luke’s most recent haircut. We approached it with the same strategic planning and mustering of fortitude as soldiers preparing for battle. Bracing ourselves for war, my husband assumed the “bear hug” position and I flipped on the FlowBee. Nothing. No screaming. No flailing. I gently put the FlowBee to his head. No negative reaction. He sat peacefully the whole time. By the end of the haircut he was actually leaning toward the vacuum and enjoying the sensation of the suction as Daddy rubbed his back. I was laughing with tears in my eyes!
It is startling to think of the thousands of “thank you Jesuses” that would have slipped past unnoticed had I not been blessed with a uniquely designed child. I am thankful that I no longer have to subject my son to hair-cutting torture. This Thanksgiving, among many things, I am thankful for haircuts.