"How to teach your son to shave"
Those are the words I typed into Google last week. I wanted to type in, "Help! I'm a single mom who rarely shaves her legs! How do I teach my boy to shave his beautiful round sweet baby face?" but opted for a short, succinct and to-the-point question instead.
Henry is 15. I caught him clipping his mustache hairs using a pair of hot-pink kid size scissors we keep in our cluttery "school supplies" bin along with the hodgepodge collection of colored pencils, washable markers and other vestiges of elementary school. "Henry!" I exclaimed. "You know there are special tools made for removing whiskers from your face? We can get you a razor, silly!" I said, because woe is the mother who ignores an opportunity to be sarcastic.
He looked at me, backwards in the reflection of the mirror. "But I don't know how to use one" he said.
My reply was one of my standbys:
"How hard can it be?"
So we went to Walgreens and bought us a razor. It took me a few minutes to gather my wits about me, after seeing how expensive these contraptions are. $35.00 for a pack of replacement blades? Seriously, Schick?
You may be wondering how it is that the world of shaving seems so foreign to me. Aren't I the proud parent of a facial-hair bearing 19 year old man? Yes. Yes I am. However, Charlie was blessed with the hirsuteness of his mama...meaning he has a very Shaggy Rogers like scruff on his chin and a few random hairs on his upper lip. Santa put a razor in his Christmas stocking one year and that was the last I heard (or saw) of Charlie's whiskers. So I assumed that it was like an instinctual thing, you know? Give him the razor, and ages of man wisdom takes over. Like when a cat has kittens. They just know what to do.
Henry, however, is going to have a more Grizzly Adams-like beard. I should have been able to guess that, what with his bushy blond Grouch Marx eyebrows and all. This boy was going to have more lawn to mow, if you know what I mean. The child scissors were definitely not going to cut it for long.
When we got home from Walgreens, Henry headed into the bathroom with his shiny new razor. A few minutes later he came out and said to me:
"I have no idea what I'm supposed to do, mom."
This was one of those times when the anger and frustration with my ex-husband come out of left field. They come out, and they do so with unexpected force.
"This is a father's job!" they whisper in my ear.
"What kind of man isn't around to teach his son how to shave! For shame!"
I imagine, for a second, my ex lovingly teaching his newest son, his Spawn, how to shave. Like a Norman Rockwell painting, they are. Standing in front of an old timey mirrored medicine chest, Big Daddy tall and with a face full of foam, a small towel draped over his shoulder as he beams at the shorter version of himself, standing in front of him with a smaller, foam-covered face. The faint sounds of a barbershop quartet can be heard in the distance.....
Then I come back to reality. My reality. My son's reality.
"Mom, can you teach me how to do this?" he asks.
I have to inquire, though..."Why don't you ask your dad to help, next time you're at his house?"
Henry shrugs, looks down at the floor. "I'd just rather do it here. Not there."
I smile at him, trying to let him know that it's okay without letting him know that I think it's pretty damn sad. Okay, and sad.
That's when I found myself sitting in front of the computer, Googling "How to Teach Your Son to Shave". I watched a couple of videos, read a few man-to-man directions, and actually found another single mom who, in desperation, consulted millions of strangers on Yahoo! Answers with the same question.
Turns out, in the end, it's not super difficult. It's just a matter of how to hold the razor, which way to pull, down or up. And trying to avoid shredding your face.
All of which my Henry has learned to do. With great aplomb.
And a little help from his mom.