Wednesday, March 19, 2008

I Just Have the Sharpest Scissors

I did something yesterday that I haven't done in years. I took my three youngest boys to the barber.

I usually cut their hair myself. Even though we are on Easter break, I find myself busier than ever. One reason is that I have a list of tasks that I need to complete for our promotional products business. We just fulfilled a huge order for several stores in San Diego (YIPPEE!). Our new strategy was a step in the right direction, but I have much more work to do now. I've been gearing up for this and have been excited for the past two weeks. I knew that I'd be taking on a more active role and felt just as I did on my first day of a new job. It's so great to get my hands dirty on something other than a diaper, but it would be better if I could focus.

I have a long list of commitments that I made in the Monday morning meeting with my husband. I thought that I'd finish them yesterday. Well, it's Wednesday, and I've made a dent, but I'm still not done. Yesterday, I received a call from a supplier of new items that we want to carry. I wasn't expecting any more business calls for the day and was nursing the baby. The number was from Minnesota and I thought that it was the parents of one of my son's college friends. It wasn't.

The vendor bombarded me with information about his products, so I pulled the baby off to grab a pen. This didn't go well with her and she started to scream---into the phone. He paused for a second, as though wondering if he had reached a professional place of business or a day care center. I asked him to hold, but couldn't find the right button on the phone. I handed the baby to her older brother and mouthed the word "dates". She loves the date pieces rolled in wheat flour from the bulk at the local health food store. I was able to slip away and take the notes that I needed in order to get the stats and cost of the product--it's more involved than you might think. (Note to self: develop "Vendor Inquiry" form to document needed information.) Luckily, I didn't forget anything!

Between work duties, I had been telling the boys all week that I'd be giving them a haircut. Today, I reminded them every five minutes not to start a big project or game because they'd be getting that haircut. I even made them change clothes, so that they wouldn't get their soccer practice outfits itchy.

I've been cutting hair ever since my husband was in the military. Our armed forces have very specific regulations in regard to their hair. I had been accompany my husband to the barber on base, when, one day, he asked if I thought that I could do it myself. It looked simple enough and we went out (to Fedco--remember that store?!) and bought real barber scissors. They were very sharp--in the mid 80's, that is.

Well, that segued into my being the designated hair stylist for our homeschool group in Poway. I'd get so stressed and nervous cutting people's hair that it would take me ages to finish. No one complained, though, because it was free. I would do it in my friends' yards, the parks where we met, or pretty much anywhere. Once someone asked me if I was a hair stylist. I said, "No. I just have the sharpest scissors of anyone in the group."

Over the years, I saved lots of money and gave my family cuts that they've enjoyed. As I've had more children (thank God for girls who don't need to cut their hair if they don't want to!!), it's been harder to squeeze an hour cut (times six, if you count my husband) into my schedule. My husband and oldest son visit the barber, but the others like me to do it, especially my teenager because he knows that I take great pains to make him look good so he doesn't embarrass me.

Yesterday, I just ran out of time, and I knew that the rest of the week was booked. So if I didn't do something drastic, my children would look like Neanderthals on Easter Sunday. I wanted to go to the barber closest to our house (seven miles away), but my husband said it would be cheaper if I went to one a bit further. He said that they charge less for boys than the $9 they do for men.

We walked into an empty shop and the two barbers there started to work on the boys immediately. Ten minutes later, all three were done and their hair looked fabulous. But the "men and boys" cut was the same price--$10!! No credit cards (there go our AMX points). I happened to have enough cash in my purse for the cuts and tips. When I walked out, I thought I had someone else's children by accident because I hadn't seen my kids' faces in weeks. Super cute!

Visiting the barber meant that I didn't have to stoop for hours straight, no yelling "HOLD STILL!" every 30 seconds, no one staring at us from the road, no tiny pieces of hair lodged into the skin of my inner arms for days (no matter how many times I change my clothes and shower), and no "ouch" from the scissors that are no longer the sharpest (even though I've had them sharpened by professionals).

But paying so much for something that I could do myself didn't sit well with me. Next time, I'll figure out how much I could make for our business in the time that it takes me to cut my kids' hair. If it's fiscally practical, I'll stick some phone books on the resin patio chairs, pull out my sharp rock scissors, and wrap rubber bands around my sleeves at my wrist before I call the boys over.