I had an experience last Friday that really made me feel good. I thought I’d tell you about it today.
On Thursday evening, my oldest son, Chris, mentioned to me that he wanted to go get a haircut on Friday. I needed a haircut myself, as I had not had one in 2 weeks. I usually get my hair cut every week, but I had been busy and not had a chance to make it to the barber shop, so I told Chris that we would go together on Friday.
I don’t recall having gone with Chris to the barber shop anytime recently. Usually, all of our kids go for a haircut with their cousin, Deo. I usually go alone. We all go to the same barber shop, though.
I enjoy going to the barber shop, because all of the barbers, there are 6 there, know that I can speak Cebuano, and they are friendly to me, and enjoy chatting with me. One of the subjects that always seems to come up is about my kids, since they know who my kids are. I never thought much of it, though, I just considered it small talk.
For those who don’t know, my oldest son, Chris, is mentally retarded, or as they would say here, he is a “special child.” Chris is 18 years old, nearly 19 now. Chris is one of the big reasons why we decided to move to the Philippines. We felt that the society here was more accepting of a person with Chris’ disability, and also we knew that the large extended family that we have here would be helpful in raising Chris. Caring for a person with a disability like what he has is difficult and very demanding on the parents. Raising Chris here from the age of 8 until now has worked out very well for us, and for Chris too.
When we first got to the barber shop, only 1 of the 6 barbers was available – the other 5 were busy cutting hair. I told Chris to go ahead of me, and I sat down to read the newspaper. After 10 minutes or so, another barber was available, so I went and sat down in his chair. We made small talk, and he began cutting my hair. After a while I realized that it was quite loud in the place. Lots of laughing and such going on, which I had overlooked before. So, I looked around to see what was going on. I saw that there were about 10 people all gathered around Chris’ chair while his hair was being cut!
It seemed that Chris was telling jokes to the crowd, and everybody was having a great time! He would tell a joke, or a story, and suddenly everybody would break out in laughter, clapping even. I sat there silently, just watching in the mirror as my barber continued cutting my hair. I really enjoyed watching the activities around Chris’ chair.
When Chris was a young child, starting around 2 years old, if we took him anywhere, he would seem to make friends. When he was sick, we would bring him to the Doctor’s office, and he would go around the waiting room introducing himself to all of the other people waiting there. He would shake hands, give his name and ask “What are you doing here?” We would always have a laugh. Feyma and I would always joke with each other that Chris was probably going to become a politician, the way he would go around and talk to all of the people.
As I sat at the barber shop and observed the happenings around Chris’ area, I could not help but think back at the days with Chris in the doctor’s office, or the grocery store. He always seemed to make friends. It really made me happy to see the way things were going.
After they finished cutting Chris’ hair, and they were still working on mine, Chris got up and he would walk around, talking with the various barbers. He would even open up the drawer at the barber’s station, get a comb out and comb his hair and such. The barbers would not even bat an eye at this, it was just fine with them.
It was apparent to me that these barbers were his friends. Not just somebody that had just met him. Over the years of getting his hair cut at this shop, Chris had really gained a bunch of friends there, and that made me happy.
I always enjoy getting my haircut at a Philippine barber shop. I enjoyed it even more last Friday, thanks to Chris.