This weekend, my kids and I were playing Monopoly and we started talking a little bit about the past and future. My son will be turning 18-- a legal adult-- in a few weeks.
A couple of years ago, my son said, in front of the whole family, that he remembered when I had blonde hair. I have a lot more grey than blonde these days. I found it pretty amusing. This weekend, as we played Monopoly, I realized that his hair, which was blonde when he was little, had turned a very dark brown, almost black, like my ex's. She is of 100% Chinese ancestry-- both parents were from China. I chuckled and pointed out that I remembered when we both had blonde hair. Both of my kids realized that I was alluding to his comment from a couple of years ago, and we all had a good chuckle.
My ex had asked me to take him to get a haircut this weekend. He doesn't like getting haircuts-- he likes to wear his hair longer, like I did when I was younger. But his high school, a Catholic high school, has hair off the collar as a part of the dress code, and he prefers the barber I take him to over the one my ex takes him to, and so we went to my barber.
As he got his hair cut, my mind drifted back to the first time I took him to get a real haircut, when he was about 2 or 3; up until that point, my ex's mother had given him haircuts. I let him watch me get a haircut, so he could see what to expect. When my barber, who I went to for years until he retired, pulled out a straight razor to finish up, my son's eyes became the size of pies, and he asked if he was going to have to do that (this was before he'd seen "Reservoir Dogs," even). I chuckled and said "No."
When I was finished, Jerry, my barber, put the booster they had in the old barbershops for the young kids that went across the arms of the chair so they could sit up high enough to get a haircut. As Jerry began cutting his hair, my son chatted with him like an old guy. There was a reason people always called him "The Little Man."
As he finished his haircut today, I realized that it was going to be the last haircut he got as a child. It was the last haircut my ex or I would have a say in.
Years ago-- fifteen years ago-- as I sat with my ex and a couple of lawyers and signed a custody agreement, March 7th of 2012 seemed like it was a million years away. Now it's only a few weeks away. Back then I thought I was going to be the happiest guy in the world on that day. To be sure, I'll be happy for a lot of things-- that I successfully navigated my son's childhood, that I'll have to deal with my ex a lot less, that when he finishes high school in May, I'll be done paying child support (though that'll soon be replaced with college tuition). But in the end, his eighteenth birthday in a little over a month will be a bittersweet affair.