Wednesday, May 21, 2014

Haircuts Can Suck It: Our Flowbee Experience

As a newbie, I didn't understand what a big effin' deal it was to give a spectrumy kid a haircut.  My 20 month-old had curly little ringlets that didn't get in the way of anything, and I was too busy researching how to "fix" my kid when I came across a "miraculous" video of a little autistic boy sitting patiently as his hair was combed and trimmed.

I was unimpressed.

Did I mention I was a newbie?  I was all, A haircut?  Are you kidding?  I want my boy to go to college.  I have higher aspirations than haircuts!

I was an ass, but I learned soon enough.

In the years since, we caused so many barbershop spectacles.  We were the Traveling Circus of Snot.  We tried bringing toys and treats.  We tried seatbelts on the chair.  We tried letting him stand during his haircut.  We even experimented with different times of day to see if that made a difference.  The barber, a wonderful woman whose best friend's kids are on the spectrum, tried everything in her bag of tricks.  He raged and jumped around and she ended up cutting her own finger.  We left a big tip and with half his head trimmed.  And I don't even want to talk about the time I took him to one of those kiddie salons, with all the well-behaved toddlers and their staring moms.

So Grandma took over.  I may have mentioned that my mother-in-law is some kind of white witch who can get him to do amazing things, like sleep.  For a little while, she was able to trim his hair enough that it was out of his eyes.  So that worked...until it didn't.  The hair situation was getting out of control.  His hair no longer curls, so when it’s long, it’s loooong.  It was in his eyes and sticking out in all directions…and he would barely let us brush it.  
On my Facebook page, I jokingly suggested that I should just buy a Flowbee.  Remember the Flowbee?  Back in the ‘90s, there were these hilarious commercials of this haircutting device that attached to a vacuum hose.  The hair would be sucked up into the vacuum and then trimmed and sucked away!  We used to laugh and laugh at the commercial.  Who would actually buy this?  Autism moms, that’s who.  I didn’t know they still made them, but some readers sent me Amazon links, and swore it was the only way they could cut their kid’s hair.  Really?  But, I reasoned, the boy hates haircuts and loves vacuums, so why not?

"Eff it," I said to my husband.  "I'm buying a Flowbee."

When the Flowbee arrived, we were giggly and excited.  Who buys a Flowbee?  WE DO!  It was like the last thread that bound us to normalcy was cut.  We were those people.  We giddily assembled it and connected it to the vacuum.  Damn, that thing is loud. 
Not the weirdest thing I've done as a parent.

It took some time to figure out which was the right attachment, so we did a lot of plain ole vacuuming of the kid's hair.  And then finally, we heard it--Buzz-zap!  It cut his hair!  The boy sat on the floor and watched his hair swirl in the vacuum.  Zap!  We trimmed his bangs.  Now with the short bangs and longish hair, he looked like a medieval page...or Mickey Dolenz of the Monkees.  Cool!

Then he decided he'd had enough and ran away.

"Come back, Mickey Dolenz!" I screamed.  

I managed to wrestle the boy back to the vacuum and tried to engage him in the wonder of swirling hair.  He lost his fascination with the Flowbee, but because there are no dangerous clippers, I was able to tickle him (and tackle him) while my husband vacuumed his head.

And how was the haircut?  Well, it looked like someone trimmed his hair with a vacuum cleaner, which was no worse than any other haircut he's gotten.  So we're cool with that.

Thank you, Flowbee!


  1. rofl -- I have been debating trying one of these as well. Our last few haircuts have been a nightmare! Your last paragraph sealed the deal. We will give our fabulous hairdresser one more chance (his actually look halfway decent) but then it might be time for the Flowbee!

  2. My posts make me laugh so much. You're an awesome writer and, from the sounds of it, an awesome mom. I look forward to exploring your blog more!

    1. Well that's embarrassing. I meant YOUR posts, not mine. Yikes. I sounded narcissistic there.

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