Tuesday, August 3, 2010

Never tick off your hairdresser

I’ve often contemplated what possessed me to train as a hairdresser. Considering I didn’t love the job, it all seemed pointless and I’m certainly glad I flagged it. But this afternoon I had an epiphany; everything just fell into place. All those pernickety clients, long late nights and dodgy workmates finally had a purpose. My creative skill was finally about to fulfil a greater plan that came into action today.

There are ups and downs in having fosties. It’s exciting to see growth and development in lives that once seemed so bleak. Usually it’s a “two steps forward, one step back” kind of progress and it can be really discouraging when it’s one of “those” days. The e-mail from the Deputy Principal had the ominous Subject Header “Another Bullying Issue” and said something along the lines of: “Yesterday I had yet another mum call me about N* bullying her son. As you can imagine she was pretty upset and angry and wanted answers. I’ve spoken to the boy who confirms that N has been constantly bullying him both verbally and physically by pushing and shoving. I have also spoken to N who admits his actions (he’s honest, I give him that). When I asked why he did it he said he thought it was fun!”

Uh oh...

Since the fosties were due for their haircuts I figured this would be an ideal opportunity for the offender to become a captive audience. I lured him into the seat with a beguiling smile and caped him up in pink (such a calming colour don’t you think?). He didn’t notice when I removed the #3 guard and slipped on a #1. After taking out a few chunks on one side I knew the time was right to put forward a suggestion to the boy: “Sit there and think about anything you might have to tell me.” Then I walked away. The look on his face was precious!

I think he was in shock. I started cooking dinner while he stared at his reflection in the mirror with huge, sad eyes. I put some washing on. I made a cup of tea. I read a magazine. He sat...

Half an hour later I decided he was ready - he’d decided he’d had enough! Eventually I found him hiding in his bed blubbing his little heart out. Ooooh, that sounds so bad! I am an EVIL foster mummy! He’s twelve years old and neglect during his early years has taught him a few tricky behaviours. We’ve seen huge improvements in the past 11 months but every now and then he slips back into it.  Ignoring the guilty pangs pricking my stomach I addressed the lump under the duvet. He cried all the way through the lecture.

CYFs have some strict guidelines about what constitutes abuse of kids in care: nothing physical, never lock a child in a room, no put downs....does a bad haircut count as ill-treatment? Oh heck! Could I go to JAIL for cruelty? What if I couldn’t get him back to finish the cut? Everyone would know I did it and my reputation as a hair stylist would be wrecked forever!

There was a long wait while he cried it out so I started a razor cut on his younger brother’s “Justin Bieber-inspired” hair. Funny, he seemed a little nervous.  Eventually N composed himself and it was a very subdued young man sitting in the chair for the rest of his haircut.   I think he would have preferred Edward Scissorhands standing behind him at that point but he was stuck with me. Fortunately I love this kid to pieces so silent remorse prompted me to give him the best haircut of all time. After a lengthy shower he emerged a different boy in both appearance and attitude. Let's hope it lasts.

N’s keen to go on the school camp in a few weeks so we still have some blackmail to brandish over him. Let’s just hope he can keep his hands to himself in the interim.