The Barber Shop

It’s about time I threw in the towel. I have been the (mostly) sole provider of Austin’s haircuts since he was born – I even carried out the traditional year 1 cut usually reserved for the hands of grandmothers. Well, I have never really been the traditional type. I started off his last haircut in Kenya and then it was finished off by our neighbor, Martin. And I felt that Austin’s head suddenly looked like a very bad, u-shaped bald version of Mr T. Then I tried again on my own here in the US and at the end of it, despite his cooperation, he had two dipped-to-the-scalp patterns on one part of his head. Thankfully, nobody really noticed them. Best of all, the subject himself remained blissfully ignorant of the hot mess atop his head.

I have lately been seriously motivated by a video of my nephew K getting his first ever professional cut (looking calm, relaxed and very dapper), so I decided to hang up my shears and seek out some help.

Seeking help means googling ‘Black barbershops near me’ and then hoping to pass by and ask them if they can handle a toddler capable of the loudest screams, both deep-voiced and as shrill as fingernails on a chalkboard. The reason I am looking for a black barber is because I would like someone who understands Austin’s texture. I, for one, do not get my hair done by hair stylists who are not familiar with texture like mine. I did go to the Paul Mitchell School one time many years ago for a cheap flat iron and trim but I left there with one side more voluminous (the young lady who did this side was white) than the other (the young lady on this side was latina). I have since then mostly gone to sistah’s – Inglewood, CA or New Orleans, LA or Nairobi, Kenya.

This search for a barber who can cut my son’s hair is more difficult than I expected.

If we were in Los Angeles, I would probably hit up MLK, Watts, Compton or anywhere in Long Beach. In Kenya, the choices would also be a lot clearer. I am feeling challenged because, with my own hair, I know what works and what does not work and I can usually tell before the stylist goes too far if we are heading down a dark rabbit hole. I have had years of practice, trial and error. I am hoping Google can help me find my way to someone who can also take the time to show me how it’s done because this is a skill I definitely need to have as a mama to a boy. And I thought I had escaped hair since I got a boy.


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