A girl has to get her hair cut.
Unable to find a sitter, I decided earlier this week (thanks to my Twitter peeps) to just take Benjamin to the salon with me. The place, right down the street from our apartment, is an industrial type of salon and also doubles as a barber shop. Not your average frou frou place and being edgy and alternative I figured Benjamin would be welcome there. I’ve also been going there for four years, maybe more.
I even asked when I made my appointment – just to be sure, “Is it okay if I bring my two-year-old with me?”
I packed up a book, a few toys, a coloring book with crayons and some treats and we headed to the salon. After my shampoo and two minutes into the actual cut (half of my hair was 2.5 inches shorter than the rest) the salon owner came up to me and told me very shortly, “Is there anyway you can do anything about this? We can’t have him running around like this.”
I said, “I can try.”
But I knew it was impossible. Hell, I was just happy Benjamin wasn’t throwing a tantrum or breaking things. From my point of view, his crawling around beneath my legs and gabbing with salon patrons was excellent behavior. Given this, if half my hair weren’t gone I would have walked out that moment.
So the hair cut went on and so did Benjamin – my little rascal.
See him there on the floor… being sweet and having fun.
The entire time I’m now very well aware of the owner’s glare.
From the front of the small shop and even while she sat in the back and ate her lunch, she was scowling and shaking her head. The rest of the staff members, including my stylist, were incredibly cool about it – playing with him, picking up his crayons when he dropped them in the middle of the floor, telling me it was “cool” and “not to worry.”
In the meantime I’m realizing painfully that my son is not ready for a hair salon. I feel bad, actually, and decide that this won’t be happening again– for years. I even consider tipping everyone in the place.
One hour later my hair cut is finished and I jump out of the chair.
“Time to go Benjamin, c’mon baby.”
I’m paying, gathering my stuff – frantically almost. I just wanted to get the hell out of there.
When I turn around she is standing within six inches of my face.
The salon owner, who looks like she should be permanently fixed to the back of a Harley with streaky blond hair snapped out of an 80’s time capsule, is out for blood. Then she starts in on me – loud enough – for everyone in the tiny place, staff and patrons alike, to hear perfectly.
“Out of respect for me and everyone in the salon I just want to say that – this,” she points at Benjamin who is now running around between our legs, “was completely disrespectful to everyone. My staff had to pick up after him and none of us could work.”
“I understand and we definitely won’t be coming back again,” I say this expecting her to then leave me alone. But, no, she continues.
I can’t remember exactly what she said because at this point my brain is pumping with adrenaline and the butterflies are crawling through my stomach, the sobs are welling up in my throat and I’m also on the verge of punching her in the face.
She went on berating me and then paused because Benjamin had just slapped her calf with his Bob the Builder toy. He does this when he’s running between people’s legs. Toddler tag or something.
“If he hits me one more time,” she growls.
“He’s two years old,” I growl back, “and I called and asked if he could come beforehand.”
“We have two-year-olds in here all of the time and they are perfectly behaved.”
Then Benjamin hits her again. And she says it again, “If he hits me one more time.”
Instead I say, “I would like to leave so he won’t be able to hit you. But you’re not letting me leave.”
And then he hits her again.
At this point it’s all a blur. I grabbed my little man, scooped up all of our stuff and pulled him outside with no coat on.
— UPDATE —
I wanted to add that as soon as we got home Benjamin and I were both sobbing, crying messes on our couch. He was sad because I don’t think he’s ever, ever seen me cry that hard. I rarely cry. I didn’t want her to get the best of me… but this was just too much.
Just didn’t want you all to think I’m some kind of bionic woman. I’m not… at all.
I’m still trying to sort it all out in my head.
Again, my mistake for bringing him there and the salon owner had every right to tell me not to bring him again — but she had no right to treat us like that, no right at all.
Have you had any experiences like this? How did you react?
I’m already brainstorming ideas for a mom review website or some kind of organization that gives mom-friendly businesses a seal of approval. Businesses should be held accountable for how they treat mothers… we are, after all, raising the next generation. Motherhood is not an easy job. Far harder than running a hair salon.
If people were held accountable for treating parents this way, then perhaps, they would go out of their way to make our lives easier – not more difficult – in this way we could focus on what’s really important, our children.
Airports have family lines now. Why don’t grocery stores have family aisles? Why aren’t staff members rewarded for helping a mother with her shopping?
I can’t tell you how many times I’ve stood in line at a store with Benjamin on the brink of throwing a tantrum only to have the childless people in front of me firmly hold on to their place and also turn their backs.
There have been exceptions… nice people who are friendly and improve my experience. From now on I’m going to give them the most enthusiastic thank you I can muster.
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