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Donna Barker

Humbled by hair

There’s an old saying, actually from the Bible, that says “Pride goes before a fall.”

Unfortunately, I experienced that old saying a couple weeks ago.

I like to think of myself as a pretty good grandma. I’m conscientious, and I follow the parents’ guidelines and rules when I’m playing with their kids. I love my grandchildren freely and deeply. I correct them, if needed, very lightly.

There’s not much I wouldn’t do for my daughters, sons-in-law and my grandchildren. But that was before May 22.

Since that day, I have drawn the line in the sand when it comes to supervising haircuts for my granddaughters.

I was in Salt Lake City on May 22 to visit our middle daughter Clarissa, her husband Ryan, and their two daughters, Brynnan, 5, and Brooklyn, 1. During the past few years, I have made this trip several times and have always come away, as far as I know, with high praises from my daughter and son-in-law for my grandma skills.

But that was before May 22.

On that day, I was helping to babysit Brynnan and Brooklyn while their folks took a short trip for their anniversary. Clarissa had left plenty of written instructions, and we had them down pat. We knew what foods they could and could not eat, what nap time and bed times were, what kinds of outings they liked.

The problem came when Clarissa decided it would be good for me, the trustworthy grandma, to take Brynnan for a hair trim on the day before she would “graduate” from preschool. I didn’t flinch much, even though I knew haircuts can sometimes be tricky things.

Clarissa’s hair instructions were short and sweet. She wanted Brynnan’s haircut to her shoulders. We would go to the same beautician who had trimmed Brynnan’s hair before, so Brynnan was familiar with her.

But the next time I take Brynnan or any other grandchild for a haircut, if there is a next time (which is very unlikely), I will ask the parents to draw a picture of their definition of “shoulder.”

I have learned, since May 22, that some people define the shoulder based on where the lowest part of the shoulder reaches the upper arm. Other people define shoulder as where the lower neck touches the next part of the body.

Brynnan’s beautician obviously follows the “lower neck” definition of shoulder. My daughter and son-in-law seem to prefer the “upper arm” definition of shoulder.

At the moment when the beautician brought her scissors out, I got a text from Clarissa. “Please make sure the beautician doesn’t cut Brynnan’s hair too short, keep it a little lower than the shoulder.”

I glanced up from my phone and watched in slow motion as the scissors cut through Brynnan’s hair, more in line with the lower neck guideline.

I honestly didn’t know what to do. I thought about having the beautician leave the rest of Brynnan’s hair long, but I knew that wouldn’t work. I thought about totally blaming the beautician for blatantly disobeying my command, but obviously she had cut it just right according to her definition of “shoulder.”

In my mind, I envisioned all my grandma medals falling to the floor with Brynnan’s hair.

But fortunately for me, Brynnan loved her new haircut, and her parents have adjusted quite nicely. But it was a traumatic experience, more for me than anyone else.

When I think back to that day, I remain humbled, even a little mortified, by my lack of grandparenting skills.

Fortunately, the rest of my babysitting time went fine, other than a little incident involving Brooklyn’s head and the sidewalk. But I decided the parents didn’t need to know about that little scrape, since no stitches were needed.

Grandparenting is definitely harder than I thought.

BCR Senior Staff Writer Donna Barker can be reached at dbarker@bcrnews.com.

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