A few years back, I got hooked on a few millennial trends. I fell in love with craft beer, I went back to grad school and I tried to grow a beard. I’ve since quit the beer though I can’t seem to deflate the innertube it created around my waist. The beard lasted all of a week, but it left me with a useful – if barely used – artifact, a beard trimmer.
Last week, after being cut off from civilization because of the coronavirus, Robbie, my 11-year-old son, started complaining about his long hair. Barred from visiting the barbershop, I decided to take matters into my own hands. After all, what dad doesn’t want to play with his power tools after a couple of weeks of lockdown at home?
Beard trimmer buzzing enthusiastically, I dove into the boy’s curly red mop of hair, and realized, after a few minutes, that I had the wrong tool – and the wrong customer. The results were disastrous. Robbie’s head looked like the top of Mount Washington: a lot of bald spots with a few tufts of scrub here and there.
What’s worse, I had one angry kid on my hands once he got a glimpse of the damage. “Dad!” he exclaimed, examining the extent of his near-scalping in the mirror. “Are you kidding me?”
Life is challenging these days. We are parenting pretty much in isolation, raising a generation of Covid-kids. While I’m confident my boys will make it through the pandemic alive, I have my doubts whether they can survive an interminable lockdown with their parents.
The scars will be deep. Hopefully, Robbie’s hair will grow back before his high school prom; he’s in sixth grade now. But I’m worried. How will he handle it when we have to trade his bike for a few rolls of toilet paper? Or his Xbox for a bag of dried beans?
These kids will have to be ingenious. They’ll inherit a world in which passing gas will be more socially acceptable than sneezing. They’re going to have to figure out how to procreate while maintaining a six-foot distance. Every home will have a wall rack for masks. Every family will have its own secret recipe for hand sanitizer.
Or, just maybe, things will return somewhat to normal – with a few tweaks. We’ll have a generation of kids with great cooking skills. The Frucci family will perfect its ziti. I’ll retire the beard trimmer, and Robbie will never complain about getting a haircut from the barber again.