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getting back on the road


There is something about Spring and hitting the road. Maybe it is the idea of Spring Break and college kids piling into cars and driving to some place warm. maybe it has to do with snow and ice having melted, not to return until late fall, making roads more motorcycle friendly. maybe it is just that Spring leads one to want to get out of the house and move, like Mr. Rat and Mr. Mole in the Wind and the Willows.

This spring is special. Some might argue that Spring is always special, Easter, flowers, rebirth, renewal etc. This spring is different. This spring, unlike last, we would be loading up the family wagon and going to my in-laws for Mother’s Day. A year ago, the very thought of which was an impossibility but now due to the very hard work of a lot of people it was a reality. My wife was the last of the adults in the family to be vaccinated.

Ironically, she, who is not a veteran, got it through the local VA hospital, whereas I got it through work. She did suffer through my being sent to Iraq twice so she should at least get something more than a t-shirt. Each of us having had our jabs meant that we could hit the road.

Since Mother’s Day usually involves family photos that meant hair cuts for the boys. My oldest patiently put up with my attempts with the clippers. He didn’t complain and even seemed to like his hair when I was done with it. The trick is to leave some floppiness in front. Think Hugh Grant in the nineties, pre-scandal when he was at the height of his stammering cute, popularity.

That also meant that my youngest needed a haircut. Which meant a battle royal of sorts. This time we had an Ace up our sleeves. The Flowbee! Purchased in Triplicate! How we possibly go wrong? George Clooney uses one. We had tried to prepare the boy for weeks. Every time he brushed his long hair out of his eyes I would helpfully suggest; “You know what would help with that…a haircut.” His response was always the same, he would say no, the way he does drawing out the last half of the word; “No-ooh.”

When the appointed day before Mother’s Day came and we could no longer put it off. He was invited to sit in the kitchen. He declined. When cajoling and outright attempts to bribe him failed we were forced to hold him and cut his hair. He began to wail and scream. He hit and scratched, and my wife turned on our savior to be the Flowbee. It made a horrible noise and she started running it over his head. Now, I am sure the Flowbee is a fine haircutting device for the average man, woman, or child. The problem is that my youngest son is an exceptional human being.

He proceeded to whip his head back and forth, cry, yell and generally make a commotion. Seeing the Flowbee was not having any effect on his hair (through no fault of the Flowbee corporation’s) I said to my wife and by said, I mean yelled in a panicky voice. “IT’S NOT WORKING! SWITCH! SWITCH TO THE CLIPPERS. QUICKLY.” This lead to a mad scramble to unplug the now disappointing Flowbee (again, not Flowbee’s fault) and plug in the tried and true dependable clippers we have used before.

While my long-suffering wife was doing this, I was trying to hold what felt like an angry Octopus on a rage filled meth bender in a chair. Intellectually I know my son only has two hands, but he delivered a flurry of tiny blows, with tiny, angry fists so quickly, accompanied by scratches to my arms and possibly an attempt to bite me, that I wondered if I had angered some multi-limbed creature. My wife got the second set of clippers up and running and after more blows and more tears managed to get the boys hair cut. It is always traumatic, and I half expect the local police or Child Protective Services to show up each time we cut his hair. Somehow we had survived another traumatic haircut.

The next day we got in the car and went on our first longish family trip in almost a year. The boys looked great in the photos one tall and thin, handsome with floppy hair. one shorter with a buzz cut and a whole lot of attitude. Each of them playing to their strengths and unconsciously revealing something of the men they will grow up to be.

it was by all accounts a very pleasant Mother’s Day. The trauma of the haircut was mostly forgotten and the jokes about the multiple Flowbee’s now had a new dimension. It was nice to see my In-laws in their home and not projected into my living room via ZOOM. Nicer still to watch them hug their grandchildren and to sit down to a meal again. I was grateful to see everyone smiling and together. A lot of very smart, dedicated people worked very, very, hard to get us back on the road again. I am especially thankful for their efforts.