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First haircut

By Mike Ruffin I don’t remember my first haircut. I don’t know how old I was when it happened, but I have short hair in every picture of little me that exists, so I must have been real young. I also don’t remember who gave it to me, but it was probably Mr. Spears, whose barbershop was located at the corner of Market Street and the Main Street alley. I assume he sat me up on the board he laid across the arms of the chair to elevate little boys’ heads to the appropriate level for trimming. I remember sitting on that board when I got to an age at which things happened to which I could look back and say, ‘I remember that.’ The first time Mr. Spears let me sit in the chair without the board marked a major milestone in my journey toward manhood. Our grandson Sullivan had his first haircut a few days ago. He’s 18 months old and needed to get cleaned up for the arrival of his new little sister in a few days. I’m grateful that the curls on the back of his head were spared. But he got a nice trim job on the front and sides. He’s even cuter now than he was before the haircut, if you can believe it. His parents didn’t take him to a corner barbershop or to the chain his father uses. They took him to an establishment that specializes in children’s haircuts. You can do that sort of thing when you live in Alpharetta. His barber chair was a little red car. His parents stood right beside him. A monitor in front of him featured his favorite animated movie, ‘Trolls’ (which is spectacularly entertaining, by the way). He held tightly to one of his favorite stuffed animals, Plato the Pirate Penguin. (Quick aside: his Honey and I were in Blue Ridge and went into a gift shop looking for a stuffed bear to get him. We came out instead with a Pirate Penguin that his parents named Plato. What a Pirate Penguin has to do with Blue Ridge, I can’t imagine.) Now, some of you are reading this and thinking things like, ‘That’s another example of how we make life too easy on our kids’ and ‘To get my first haircut, I had to crawl three miles uphill in the snow so the guy at the general store could do it with a sling blade and a straight razor.’ I have three responses to such thinking. First, he’s not going to remember it anyway. So what would he learn from it being a non-fun experience? Second, we’re talking about my grandson. He wasn’t treated well enough. They should have put him on a throne, fanned him with ostrich feathers, and gently snipped his hair with golden scissors, one strand at a time, while he drank milk from a jewel-encrusted sippy cup. Third, I know his parents quite well. He’ll grow up to be quite the responsible human being who sees the world as it is and does all he can to make it better. He can learn how later. Right now he’s a baby. He’s our baby. I was once Champ and Sara Ruffin’s baby. But I grew up fast. I preached my first ‘sermon’ when I was 13. I started working after school and on Saturdays at Thriftown Grocery Store the week I turned 14. I left Lamar County High School after my junior year to attend Mercer University when I was 16 (full disclosure: I turned 17 the first week of class). I got my first ministry position at the same time. I graduated from Mercer when I was 19. I got married six days after I graduated. For some reason, I was anxious to be responsible. I was in a hurry to grow up. Or maybe I was like George Bailey, the central character in It’s a Wonderful Life (the Christmas movie with quotes appropriate at any time of year) whose father told him, ‘You were born older, George.’ I don’t regret a bit of it. Those things I was in a hurry to do are all good things. My actions reflected who I was, who I wanted to be, and even who I was meant to be. The half-dozen or so people whose opinion really matters to me think I’ve turned out all right. Maybe Sullivan will want to be responsible at an early age too like his Duke (that’s my grandfather name) was. Or maybe he will want to live a little more freely and have a little more fun before he buckles down. I have three bits of grandfatherly advice for him. Whatever. Let it be. You do you. Mike Ruffin is a Barnesville native who lives in Yatesville and works in Macon. His latest book (co-authored with Judson Edwards), A Savior to Serve, is available at nextsunday.com/studies/a-savior-to-serve.

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