Last night I gave a pre-wedding haircut to our fifth of seven sons. It was at times a bit emotional for both of us. We figured that I had given him at least TWO HUNDRED HAIRCUTS — all just to be well-practiced, he reminded me, for The Big One.

I’ve made my fair share of mistakes on his head of hair over the years. Some of them he noticed. But he continued on as a (mostly quite merry) repeat customer.

As with his brothers, the texture of his hair and his cowlicks and other particulars are unique from all the others. He likes certain things, well, “just so.” In the early years, I would have the final say on points of style. As he got older and then became a man, I yielded to his wishes (though sometimes with quiet protest).

As each year passed, I realized more and more what a privilege it was just to be asked by my son to cut his hair. It was a small but somehow sacred trust: the kind of “trust tokens” that fill a proverbial bank account until it’s overflowing.

Though not all my Do-It-Yourself adventures have turned out this way (LOL!), giving haircuts to our boys has not been bad for our literal bank account, either. We calculated that through the years I’ve given more than 1,700 haircuts to our seven sons. That’s quite a lot of buzzing and trimming and clipping. Applying the average cost of a haircut at the major chains since 1991, and adding baseline interest on the money that we saved, we determined that the windfall for our household economy was more than $31,410.

Now, don’t ask me about the girls. (And definitely don’t ask them.) My DIY Barber Shop experience with our daughters proved to be an OAD. It was a One-And-Done.

Even still, the point of all this is to say that Do-It-Yourself experiences are part of the warp and woof of a well-lived life. It took me until I was older to really get that. These experiences are emblematic of many things, no matter what your specific DIY task might be — ranging from the skills of problem-solving and process thinking to character attributes like patience, humility, independence, and determination. You also learn to appreciate things: how they work, how they’re made, and the stories behind the story.

So, God willing, when I look at my son at the altar just a few days from now, honored to be standing by his side, I’m sure it will be just a little more special because of the flashbacks I’ll have…including memories of years passed with him in our DIY Barber Shop.

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