To the Stylist Who Butchered My Daughter’s Hair

It was my fault, really. I had no business setting foot in your salon with my over-tired Kindergartener and her unruly little sister. Not when I was this tired myself. Not when I had already endured one of the worst mornings ever. I should have known better.

My mom tried to talk me out of it. “They don’t need haircuts,” she said. “Just trim their bangs and be done with it,” she said. I should have listened.

But I didn’t. Because we had family pictures scheduled for 9:00am the next morning with my husband’s whole family. Remember? I told you about it when we showed up and you said you could squeeze us in. I bet you saw it in my eyes – you knew I had a hell of a day, and you just wanted to help a tired mama out.

So Reese sat in your chair and I told you just to trim it and thin it. (That girl has so much hair). You started spraying and combing and cutting; and we started chatting the way women do in hair salons.

I’m still not sure how it happened. Maybe you were behind on appointments because you squeezed in a last-minute walk-in. Maybe you were distracted by my toddler running laps around your product display. Maybe you’ve got some personal stuff going on. Maybe you just plain weren’t paying attention.

You reached for the thinning shears, but you grabbed the scissors instead.

I heard you gasp and I looked down and you were holding a massive chunk of my daughter’s hair. And I just froze because I couldn’t believe my eyes.

My precious little girl. The one with hair halfway down her back. The one who just told you she wants to be like Rapunzel. The one sitting in your chair with a chunk of hair cut all the way up to her ear.

I won’t even pretend that I didn’t have an urge to freak out. To yell, “What have you done?!?!” To snatch Reese from your chair and lead her away and assure you that we would never, ever come back here. Did I not just tell you we have pictures tomorrow?!

But what message would that send to you about who I am and what I believe? What message would that send to my daughter about walking in grace?

I saw your hands shaking, your eyes brimming with tears.  “Oh my gosh. I’m so sorry. I’m so sorry.” You said it over and over.

Before I could foster a reaction, I remembered the picture I saw that morning. The one of the toddler’s body washed up on the Turkish shore. Heartbreaking. I closed my screen and sent up a prayer for his innocent soul and his heartbroken people. What else could I do from here? In the face of such devastation, any act seems too small.

But I know one thing. This world is maxed out on the negative. We need more grace. More compassion. More love. And not just for the big things. For little things too. Little things like bad haircuts.

I took a deep breath. I bet you saw me holding back my own tears. I wanted you to know that they weren’t about you. I wanted to tell you that my horrible day capped by this horrible haircut just got pressed into perspective by the mental image of a drowned toddler and all that his death represents.

Now that’s a crisis. This, my dear, is nothing.

And I told you as much. I said it was okay. It’s hair. It grows. “Compared to rest of the world’s problems, this is small potatoes.” It was all I could say without opening a flood gate and pouring my heart all over the floor of your salon.

Because I carry some heavy burdens these days. I bet you do too. We know nothing of each other’s battles.

Reese started asking questions. “Mommy, what’s wrong with my hair? Something’s wrong. I can tell.” I told her that you made a mistake but it would be okay. I knew our reactions would dictate hers, and she stayed calm because we stayed calm.

You said you wouldn’t charge me and I said I appreciated that. Before I left, I handed you a tip. Maybe I shouldn’t have, but it felt like the right thing to do in the moment. I guess I just wanted you to know that I forgive you. It was a mistake. People make mistakes.

Everyone deserves compassion.

Lisa Hurley
Lisa Hurley
Lisa Hurley is a former counselor and leadership trainer with a passion for writing. Staying home with her two girls has opened doors for her to begin blogging and speaking about the importance of self-awareness and emotional intelligence. Lisa blogs at about cultivating joy in simple moments and finding peace through tough times. You can also connect with Lisa on Facebook, Instagram, Pinterest, and Twitter.

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