Many events are designed to represent milestones or coming of age, and they range from birthdays big and small to cotillion balls.

While parenting young kiddos, some events metamorphose gradually from one to another as phases without much notice. They may or may not be all that significant.

But some are landmarks, defined by notable, sudden shifts without subtle transition; they’re the end of a chapter, the beginning of a radical new era.

One occasion in particular marks a turning point in which a toddler– particularly a boy toddler– shifts from wee babe to real boy.

The First Haircut.

There’s no turning back once those locks are first lopped, and somehow your chubby cherub seems to have tripled his age.



When my firstborn received his first haircut, I expected I’d be overwhelmed by a deep sense of loss of his golden ringlets for sure .

We’d made a production of it– literally. The team from my husband’s former production company next door to the salon sent a small film crew over to document the defining chopping moment.

Yes, I’m totally serious. The cameras were rolling, and so were the stylists’ eyes.

But my boy surely couldn’t forever be Shirley– Temple, that is.

I prepared to blame the spritz bottle in the hair stylist’s hand for the waterworks that would certainly come to me.

But they never did.

It turned out, I was actually relieved with my eldest’s new do, because post-bath haircombing became a far more pleasant experience from that point on.

His hair had been so thick and long, a tangled potpourri of curls impossible to brush teardrop-free. And now there’d be no more tub-time tears.

It was for that very same tousled reason that my mother chopped my own hair when I was a young tot. It only took me 30 years to understand this.

It was only hair. Life went on. Haircuts have only proved traumatic on very rare occasion. I’m looking at you, Delilah.

My son was happier when we finally cut his hair at age 2, and in effect we no longer confused well-meaning people who gushed the ‘cute-littlegirl’ isms.

But then my second son came along.

And now, he too has reached that near-brink of 2, and his hair is as long and blond as his big brother’s once was.

The token first haircut should be even easier this time around, right?

Yet somehow I’m finding it more difficult to part ways with his part of billowing waves than it was with my firstborn, and I’m not sure why.

Perhaps I hesitate because he’s our youngest, for now.

Perhaps it’s because he has one lone curl at the nape of his neck in the company of relatively straight hair, a curl which will be forever gone once it’s trimmed off.

But no matter how many blue striped shirts he wears that adorn fire trucks, dinosaurs, or other stereotypically boy gear, my husband and I continue to field questions about ‘her’ name, ‘her’ age. His fine hair is easier to comb through than his big brother’s coarser hair had been at this age, so we’ve been able to ride this Rapunzel wave a bit longer.

But the haircut is coming. And it’ll be drastic.

My baby boy will join the ranks of big boy-ness alongside his big bro.

But I know that it will only take me one long look at his big, blue eyes and mischievous grin to recognize that my youngest is still the same kiddo.

And that for me is what truly makes the cut.

— Michelle Cote is the art director of the Journal Tribune. She enjoys cooking, baking, and living room dance-offs with her husband, two boys and a dog. She can be contacted at [email protected]

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