Sunday, November 11, 2007

October Highlights, Part III: The Haircut

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.


tim said...

Eli, I like your new haircut! In many ways, short hair is a lot easier to take care of. That's probably one reason missionaries have to have it so short--although that couldn't be the only reason since sister missionaries can have long, higher-maintenance hair. Thanks for sharing the story, Andrea.

Dad said...

This experience is actually a sobering lesson to us all. Maybe Eli would be interested in my beard stories. I also hate ties but have to wear them to church all the time. I also hate suits and sports coats but again have to wear them in my official church duties. If Eli can do this type of stuff then so can his grandfather! I am humbled once again by my daughter and grandson. Love, Dad

Melinda said...

Sweet Eli! I'm proud of you for making a hard decision.
I love you lots and lots!

Abbigail said...

Wow! What dedication!

Kamity said...

Andrea, I just want you to know that I think all of your kids have the coolest hair.

Kristin said...

What an amazing story. I'm so impressed with Eli (and his parents). And my favorite concession was cutting his hair on major holidays (namely Halloween).

Delsa said...

Kristin forwarded your blog to me because it made her think of us in the mission field. I wanted to write to you Eli to tell you that as the wife of a mission president I see missionaries making all sorts of sacrifices in order to be obedient. Some are very difficult for them because they have not been doing those things all along. By you choosing to do your grooming to conform to missionary rules it will help you as you need to make other concessions to keep yourself worthy to serve the Lord as a missionary. These young men are amazing. They work hard to change themselves every day to be more able to receive revelation. You have truly taken an amazing first step to become like them. The most important part of that step was praying to receive revelation for yourself. Nothing will be of more use to you in the future than learning to ask for and receive revelation. Keep it up - the harder it is the more worthwhile in the end. Pres. and Sister Quinn

Becky said...

Eli, that took a lot of guts!

Mark said...

Andrea, that is the cutest story ever! One that needs to be submitted to the friend. What a good kid!

Jill said...

Wow, that was awesome! It's so great that this became such a great learning experience for everyone involved! Go Eli!

Lisa said...

That is such a sweet story. Kristin told me to read it and I'm glad I did!

Brooke said...

Eli, I love this story. What a faithful boy you are and so lucky to have parents to help you recognize the spirit. I hope my little boys can grow up to be like you.