"How to Teach Your Son to Shave"

"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 more succinct 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 Groucho 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.


  1. Way to go! I'm impressed. Now what about tying a tie?

    1. Ha! Baby steps. I've actually had to have a friend give me step-by-step instructions for that one. On the phone, while I tied the tie on the boy. It's too much for my dyslexic brain.

    2. I can help with the tie! I was such a daddy's girl and my dad believed in women being able to do for themselves, so he taught me how to do pretty much anything: tying ties,changing tires and other minor car maintenance. I love him for that, wish he was still around to see me be a mom.

  2. I have a 12-year-old, so mine is coming. But I did have to Google "how to tie a tie" and "how to tie a karate belt."

  3. You're a freaking awesome Mom Jenny! You will have your kids unending devotion for life.

    I've googled how to tie a Tang Soo Do belt. How to play soccer.My husband initially promised to be my six year old son's coach but the other parent coaches were making him feel unworthy so he left the field one day and refused to coach anymore. Who's the six year old here? I had to take his place and made excuses for his bad behavior. He hurt his back,he can't play I said. What an ass.

    I'm thinking on writing a post called "Are Moms Everything?" I know there are some good fathers out there, I just haven't been lucky enough to run into many.

  4. These are the kinds of things I take for granted. Henry sounds like he's doing just fine. I love that he came to you. That's just another sign of how awesome a mother you must be.

  5. Jenny, you are so inspirational! It's so telling that he'd prefer you teach him. That part would have made my heart sing.

  6. Yay Jenny for helping figure this out, and yay Henry on a rite of passage into Manhood! :)


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