I hate having my hair cut. I have always hated having my hair cut. I go as rarely as I have to and consequently people rarely ever say to me “ooh, that’s a nice ‘do”.
I always have to take my hearing aid off when I have my haircut. Hairdressers then always try to make small talk with me. They seem incapable of not making small talk. So when I explain that’s not going to happen with me because my ears are FAULTY they look like they might self-combust. And they then forget 3 minutes later and start trying to make small talk again. I always feel like slapping them but then I remember I don’t want them to go all Van Gogh on my ears.
But last week when I was in Mr Toppers having my £7 hair cut (bargain!) I thought: Enough! I decided to just politely ignore the hairdresser, stop looking around at the corner of my eye and just think to myself.
And I concluded that actually there are 2 more substantive reasons why I hate having my hair cut. They may be personal to me. They may be common to other deaf people. I’ll let you decide.
Firstly, I’m deaf but I still exist in a mostly hearing world. So going from being in a noisy bustling environment to not hearing anything, whilst knowing that people are still talking around you and possibly to you can be discomforting. And it’s worse when you’re fixed to a barber’s chair, unable to move.
Secondly, to this day, I’ve never really been quite sure what to say in a barbers. Only a few years ago did I get the memo on what asking for a no.1 meant, and luckily just in the snip of time. So I waffle when trying to explain what I want and spend the next 15 minutes hoping for the best. Maybe I’ve just not been paying attention. But I think this is the kind of language and vocabularly that hearing people would pick up not by being taught but by listening in at the barbers. “Incidental learning”, learning from picking things up from the world around you.
I’m not saying that all deaf children and grown ups are like me in hating the hairdressers. But I think we sometimes overlook the fact that quite mundane situations can be awkward for deaf children and young people – unless they’ve been taught the skills to confidently manage such situations and to ‘own’ their deafness. Deaf children are taught to communicate, speak, do numbers, but what about the basic stuff that you take for granted? Do we need a greater focus on life skills and independent living?
My final thought on this is at least I’ve moved on from having hair like Boris Johnson…