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Just A Haircut This work is considered exceptional by our editorial staff.


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It was a sunny day and I was sitting on a barber’s chair, waiting to get a haircut while thinking of a way to get the barber to cut it as little as possible. I could smell the fragrant scent of shampoo coming from the other side of the shop, where several people were having their hair washed. While I was waiting for the barber I was thinking about how much hair I would have to cut off to make my mom satisfied without getting the buzz cut that I knew she wanted me to get. When the barber finally came, I told him to cut my hair short in the back, but cut as little as possible on the front and sides. He told me that he understood what I wanted and began to cut my hair.

I don’t like haircuts, and every time I have to get one, I do the same math in my head. My mom always tells me to get it cut, but I always refuse for a few weeks, until even I have to admit that it’s too long. Even then I always tell the barber to cut just a little bit, while my mom tells me to get my hair really short. I always disagree with my mom about the things that she wants me to do. I disagree with her about getting my hair cut, studying for tests, and pretty much everything else. At the same time, though, I appreciate that I owe her a lot. She feeds me, gives me a home, and supports me when I need it. She helps me get better at things I’m weak at, even when she doesn’t know how to do it herself. And I have to admit that most of the time her advice is good. I can say without a doubt that my mom has helped me improve as a person.

As I’ve grown older, however, I’ve started deciding things more on my own rather than listening to my mom’s advice. It’s not because she’s wrong, but because I can sense that if I did what my mom wanted me to do all the time, I would be sacrificing my independence. Often I know perfectly well what my mom wants me to do, but I pretend I don’t hear her or that I’ve forgotten. When I do listen to my mom’s demands, it’s usually because I know that she’s right about what I should be doing, like studying for an upcoming quiz. But when it’s something unnecessary, like cutting my hair short or practicing playing the violin, I hit my limits.

When I was a child everything was different. I always did what my mom told me to do and I even let her tell the barber to cut my hair really short. I did things that I would never do now. My relationship with my mom has changed drastically since I was a child. Back then, we had a pretty agreeable relationship. I always listened to my her when I was little and I did everything she told me to do. Now my relationship with my mom is full of arguments and we rarely agree on anything.

Sometimes I wonder what happened in the last few years to change that. I think the real reason we don’t get along now is that when I was little I never really desired anything important, but now I want to do my own things and experience things for myself, while my mom still thinks of me as a little boy and still tries to order me around. In order for us to have a peaceful relationship again, I would need her to treat me differently than she used to. I want her to ask me to things instead of ordering me, to treat me like an adult.

Even though I feel strongly about my decisions, I often feel conflicted about how often I defy my mom, because under my mischievous exterior, I have always felt a sense of debt. She always supports me in the choices I make and she always gives me advice on what to do when I’m unsure of myself. Sometimes I’m not sure if she’s doing things for my benefit, or for her own, though. For instance, she always wants to help me get good grades in school, because I think it makes her feel proud and she likes the feeling of being proud of me.

Regardless of her motives, though, I can’t deny that I owe my mom a lot. I sometimes think about how I’m going to to pay my mom back. It’s difficult to imagine, because my mom has always supported me and is still supporting me now. The only way I can think of to pay her back would be to take care of her when she retires and give her money to use it on whatever she wants. I would like to support her with as much determination as she supports me with now.

Every day I struggle with where to draw the line, when to listen to my mom and when to do what I want to. As I think about, I realize that I usually decide based on the importance of my mom’s demand. If my mom tells me to do something that I was already planning to do then I happily comply, but when it’s something that’s not on my to-do list, I usually just ignore what she tells me to do. The exception is when I know something really matters to her, and that she’ll get upset if I don’t do it. Then I sometimes have to do things I don’t want to do.

I wonder sometimes how long I will be making these calculations, deciding between paying off my debt and declaring my independence. When the barber tells me he’s finished, I cut short my thoughts and take a nervous look in the mirror. With relief, I notice that my plan has worked. It’s short on the sides, but the front looks almost as if it hasn’t been cut. I smile and glance over at my mother, who is playing a game on her phone. She hasn’t seen my new haircut yet. I can’t wait to see her reaction. For today, I’ve won.



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