Part three of October Highlights is Eli's haircut. Here is Eli Before:
Here is Eli After:
Now, the story.
I've always thought boys with long hair were quite cute. I remember a little boy I met as a missionary in the Philippines. He was 5 years old and his mother had never cut his hair. It was so beautiful, long and wavy and thick. She was planning to cut it for the first time when he started school. I remember thinking that if I had boys, I'd like to do the same thing.
When Eli was a baby, I protected his hair from getting cut as long as possible. Finally, after his first birthday, Dan insisted that it was time, and lopped off all of Eli's little blond curls. I cried!
About a year ago, Eli had a regular short boy haircut. Then he decided he wanted to grow his hair out. I remember this as happening gradually; I hardly noticed it. He started getting lots of compliments on his cool long hair, and I started noticing that all the teenager boys had similar hairstyles. I was sort of proud of him for having long hair, although I did think it was gross the way he didn't like to wash it very often :) And it was always hanging in his eyes, which bothered me, and drove my mom absolutely crazy.
Recently, Dan and I had been wanting to cut it because it always looked so messy, but Eli would get hysterical whenever we brought it up. In May, we forced Leslie to give him a trim for our family picture, and after that he was nothing but evil, hateful looks.
During the first weekend of October we listened to a world-wide broadcast from the leaders of our church. One of the speakers mentioned a faithful mother in South America taking her little boy to church each week in his clean white shirt and missionary haircut. That was the first time that the thought came into my mind that there was a reason to cut Eli's hair other than personal preference.
Soon after that, another church leader visited Ann Arbor and gave a fireside. One of the teenagers in the audience asked what he could do to prepare to serve a mission. Elder Bednar explained that he can start now by becoming a missionary long before he serves a full-time mission. One of the things he mentioned in becoming a missionary is looking like a missionary--a second reference to having a missionary haircut.
Then I was listening to some talks given to the church in April and I heard a third reference to boys having a neat appearance and a missionary haircut. I talked to Dan, and we decided that it would not be a good idea to force Eli to get a haircut, but that we could encourage him to pray about it.
So we had a family lesson about grooming and hair cuts. Eli began praying about it. At first he told us he would get his hair cut when he turned 12 so that he could pass the sacrament at church. Then he said he would get a haircut when he turned 9. As we kept talking about it with him and he kept praying about it, he made more and more concessions. His plan became to get a trim on each major holiday, starting with Halloween, until he turned 9 and would then go to the full missionary haircut.
That is when we remembered that Aunt Leslie was coming. Leslie, besides being the family birthday cake-maker, is the family hair-cutter. We asked Eli if he would like to have Leslie cut his hair. He decided that would be a good way. So on Saturday, October 20, 2007, Eli took a seat of his own free will and choice, and submitted his hair to Leslie's scissors. He was very brave. The night before the haircut, I asked Eli if he was excited about it. He said no, he was not excited, but he felt peaceful. In the middle of the haircut, when he looked down and saw how much hair was on the ground, he started to cry. I asked him if he was still feeling peaceful. He gave me a thumbs down. Then Leslie told him that when he became a missionary some day, he would be asking people to sacrifice all kinds of things in order to join the church. This was the first big sacrifice he was making so that he could be obedient, and he could use this experience to understand better what sacrifice feels like.
Eli was pretty calm after the haircut, until he looked in the mirror. More tears! Then, calm again, until he saw his dad sweeping up all the hair. Even more tears! Finally, when he saw the Before and After pictures I had taken, he burst into tears again.
Eli, we know it was hard for you to lose your long hair. We think you look handsome both ways, and we're so proud of you for being willing to follow the counsel of our church leaders. You set a very good example for the whole family, especially for your little brother, Adam. Thank you, darling.