Hangin’ Out In Normal-Land

This is a brag-blog. Let’s get this straight right away. I’m so proud I could pop. No, that’s not it. I’ts not pride I’m feeling, it’s more like wonderment and awe, not that I didn’t think we’d ever get to “here” but it’s just when we finally got “here”, I wanted to pinch myself to make sure I wasn’t dreaming. And we weren’t because Bug’s got the haircut to prove it.

After speech therapy a few days ago, we stopped at our favorite commercial-chain-cheapo-haircut-place to visit The Best Hairdresser In The World, Trina. And she’s not my favorite because she’s “so good with kids with special needs”. She’s so good because she sees Hayden as a kid first and she just doesn’t get distracted with the other “stuff” that comes with him.

When we first found Trina a little over a year ago, Hayden was in dire need of a haircut but he didn’t want ANYTHING to do with her. Didn’t faze her in the slightest. What did she do? Exactly the opposite of what everyone had done before her: she let him cruise around the salon and check out her chair and counter before hoisting him up onto his perch. (I know I’m digressing from my current story, but you’ve got to understand how we got to where we were on Thursday by feeling pieces of the fabric that was our first few meetings). So from the get-go Trina was comfortable w/ Hayden. Hayden couldn’t stand to be there and looked as if he was going to jump out of his skin at any moment but Trina was comfortable with WHO Hayden was. And is. (And trust me folks, as a parent of a chld w/ a disability I’m watching every bit as much the ADULT’S interaction w/ my child in any given situation as I am my child’s response to the adult-be it a doctor, a teacher, a therapist, a childcare worker at church, etc…). And I’ll bet you dollars to donuts she treats every kid (and adult) in her chair the same way: assesses where they’re at today and asks what they want to have done. No judging. No pity. No obnoxious questions on the first date. In short, Trina passed her first-date-test with a strong B+.

So there we were on Thursday of this past week. We pulled into the parking lot and after getting out of his carseat (his sister had told him where we were when we pulled into the parking lot and she said he perked right up and said something-I can’t remember what), Hayden marched up to the door and tried with all his might to open it. He couldn’t so I helped him and in the door he marched. He helped himself to a chair in the seating area and we waited. He usually doesn’t have to wait for Trina and saw no reason to start that day so he was not very patient and rather grumbly. As soon as Trina was done w/ her client, Hayden slid off the chair and marched over to Trina’s chair and sat down, much to the amusement of all the old ladies in the salon that day (thursday’s are $10-off-perms-days), and looked at Trina as if to say, “Well come on, I’m here now so get to work”. She laughed and found his booster seat. I needed to use the restroom immediately and when I came out, Trina had already started on him so I stood a few feet away next to DP and a display and decided to watch for a minut or two, until things deteriorated and Trina would need me to hold Hayden’s head, to hold his hands still, to sing right into his face or any of the other tricks I’ve employed in order to make the haircutting process as least aerobic as possible (“as least aerobic” for the stylist I mean. I always get a gym-comparable cardio workout and leave wishing I had a brought a towel with me).

So there I stood at the ready. Just knowing, given our history in more than one but less than a hundred hair cutting places (from toney children’s salons to barbers and everything in between) that I was going to be needed at a second’s notice. And there I waited, with DP at my feet, waiting and watching in awe. Just jaw-dropping awe and amazement. At first I didn’t know what I was feeling and then I realized, “Hey, this is must be what moms in the “normal” world do when their eight year old boys get their hair cut!!” (I get a little of this when DP gets her hair cut but that’s only happened once in her life) I wasn’t sweating. I was standing up-right, not crouched in a catcher’s position in front of my son’s face, singularly focused on Hayden’s well-being while keeping him in a head lock away from the lobotomy-inducing scissors. I was standing just a few feet away in stunned silence. We did it! We found someone who really likes kids and honestly doesn’t care about the labels or the outer trappings. As a result she treats him like….stop the presses here: A NORMAL CHILD. And we’ve managed to desensitize him to the whole hair cutting experience. He’s matured and learned that these things (haircuts) happen at fairly regular intervals and it’s nothing to be frightened or terrorized about. In fact if the other day was any indication, he expects that when he goes into his hair cutting place, his stylist should be waiting and ready for him. None of this waiting for another client rubbish.

I don’t visit Normal Land very often and frankly I don’t really care. I also don’t live in “what if” Land and it’s not something I sit around the fire ruminating about. Our lives are normal: our oldest child is fearfully and wonderfully made with a deep, deep love of music and all the instruments which make the glorious sounds. He KNOWS he’s THE MOST handsome boy who EVER lived. He knows this because he spends HOURS in front of the mirror singing to himself and making himself giggle. Our daughter is frighteningly beautiful and crazy-smart. She has a deep abiding love of Jesus and all things related to God and His creation. She would run across a busy street if she saw a man or woman in uniform on the other side to thank them for protecting the United States of America and she doesn’t have a clue that NO OTHER CHILD WOULD EVER THINK OF THAT, MUCH LESS DO IT.

So we’re far from normal and our trips to the grocery store, the bank, the library and to our various therapies wouldn’t be classified as normal probably because of how we look to the outside world and that’s okay. The outside world is highly overrated for the most part. But our trip to Normal Land on Thursday was refreshing on some level so maybe we’ll go there again, because to see how proud and happy Hayden was with himself when he got to look at that handsome boy in the mirror was worth the price of admission.

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