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Getting Real with Jennie Page

I know that everyone right now is writing about fun Back-to-School projects that they can do with their kids, and, being the reigning queen of all things frugal, I immediately thought about our garden project that we worked on this summer – which we built with all free stuff on we got Craigslist – and that story is coming, but not today. Today I am going to write about when you should NOT save money. Here’s what happened.

Yesterday I took my girls with me to the post office. I noticed a beauty school next door that had a sign — “Haircuts $8, Walk-Ins Welcome!” I also noticed that my 3 year old, Ellie, really needed her hair trimmed, and I decided that this would be an easy way to save some money over the $12 we normally spend. So in we went.

As Ellie was getting her hair trimmed, my other daughter, Maddie, decided she wanted to get her hair cut, too. Since it was going so well with my preschooler, I figured it would go well with the fourth grader too.

So Fanta (names have been changed to protect the guilty) surfaces from behind some unknown wall and takes Maddie back proclaiming “I really like to cut hair!” In retrospect, I’ve heard that same tone and phrase from many of the 4 year olds I work with at school. It should have been a sign.

Now, Fanta has really bright fluorescent pink hair, so my first thought is that she must be creative and daring. I tell her my daughter wants an A-line, and she looks at me blankly and says ”What’s an A-line?”

So my second thought is, she must be a newer student. I’m a teacher. I get that everyone needs chances to learn. But instead of running immediately for the door, I let her take scissors to my daughter’s hair, while in the back of my head, I’m applauding my efforts to save money by using the beauty school. Ellie is done, so we go back and sit by Maddie. That’s when I notice that Fanta calls the instructor over every 2 seconds and asks for help.

Instructor man seems OK, so instead of leaving, we stay and let him and Fanta hack up my daughter’s hair. The instructor was fascinating, as much for his over-processed hair as for his beautiful tattoos. Which is where I need to mention that I’m slightly fascinated by art, so I’m looking at his arms wondering if the tattoos come alive at night like the ones in The Illustrated Man. They were colorful and hypnotic, and I am pretty sure they told a story. I just don’t know what it was, precisely, but I think it might be something like “stare at my arms so you won’t notice what I’m doing to your hair.”

I also was completely distracted by some other students working on the mannequin heads and wigs. I had to keep explaining to Ellie that we were NOT going to do that to her dolls when we got home. So, decapitated mannequin heads, tattoos and Fanta distracted me from realizing that Maddie now looked like we had her hair cut in a garbage disposal.

Now, I’m a firm believer that for girls, hair is important — a lesson I learned in spades when I used my girlfriend’s red hair shampoo on my blonde locks and ended up with pink highlights for a few weeks. There are some things where you do not want to cut corners, and hair is one of them. I ended up making another appointment the next day at a different salon where they fixed Maddie’s hair — for $18. So the $8 hair cut ended up costing $26 plus tip. Maddie asked if we should have a yard sale soon to make up for it, and we probably will. Unless I can find something really good in the trash to sell to an antique store first — like the rest of that mannequin’s body.