Saturday morning, Jim took Charlie to the barbershop (it's 5 minutes from our house) not for a haircut but a shave. At an (actual) haircut a few months back, Jim had had the barber give Charlie little 'cleaning-up' in the mustache/beard area; he had afterwards concluded, the best way to get Charlie a close shave is regular visits in the barber chair.
Shaving is one of those topics I have never wanted to confront. Aside from having no idea how to go about it, the thought of having to put any sort of blade near Charlie's face was simply terrifying. Your son having to shave is a sort of parents' Rubicon, a sign that the little boy is no more.
The physical changes of adolescence have plagued Charlie since he was about 11: Growing, body and facial hair, hormone, acne, and all that. He does not receive any sex education in the sense of learning about the male and female anatomy; it's up in the air what he would absorb from such a presentation. He is learning about safety, security, strangers. We've talked about him 'growing up' and there being lots of 'changes' and tried to be beyond sympathetic, Jim and I having both found adolescence a particularly unpleasant and unhappy time. [16:00, 18 Sept 11: I edited this paragraph a bit to clarify things upon reading the comments below.]
Jim has regularly been using an electric shaver on Charlie's face. Using a real razor and shaving cream is down the line but no one is looking forward to Charlie getting a cut. The electric shaver only gets so close and the barber option seems viable (and it has an added bonus: the more times Charlie does something, the more used to it he is). The barbershop has been very welcoming of Charlie since the youngest, newest barber, Mike, starting cutting Charlie's hair when he was 8 years old. Usually Charlie gets his hair cut by Antonio, a retired school custodian, but he wasn't in the shop yesterday morning and Charlie accommodated readily to someone else shaving him.
Certainly he must feel more comfortable, in a sensory way, with a nice shave. Looks aren't everything, of course, but what can I say -- minus the shadowy mustache and beard, Charlie looks not only less, ah, scruffy, but his actual age (instead of 17 or older, as he's often mistaken for).
After the shave, Charlie had a smiley Saturday. There was a massive tag sale going on in the NJ horse country town near where he and Jim ride on the trail and Charlie wanted only to do five miles. He got in his ride miles at home and was mostly in an easy-going mood all day (minus a few minutes of intense rocking in the car.)
Yes, Charlie and Jim are poised to become quite the regulars at the barbershop.