Now that I no longer gasp in surprise every time one of my boys walks in the room with only fuzz on their heads, here’s the full scoop on our St Baldrick’s Day events:

Austin was excited all day, asking over and over again when we would go pick up Braedan. Finally, the moment arrived and we walked to school without coats for the first time in ages and gathered an equally excited Braedan twenty-five minutes prior to his regular dismissal.

We then filled the three rows of my car with eight people and headed into the amazingly crowded (and amazingly drunk) heart of downtown. More people come out for St. Patrick’s Day in Cleveland (especially with temperatures pushing 70) than for any other event, save some select (and now merely nostalgic) Cavs playoff games.

We strode confidently through the crowds and walked into AJ Rocco’s. And it was a zoo. Wall to wall people, like your worst nightmare of a frat party. We had to scoop Austin up or he would have been lost forever in a sea of legs. They called us up to the front immediately after checking in and suddenly it was our turn.

Except that Austin doesn’t like crowds. He doesn’t even really like people. At least not loud mobs of people he’s never seen before. He completely shuts down whenever he’s faced with strangers. He nuzzles his head into the shoulder of whichever parent is holding him, and lets his eyelids droop down as if to hide the sights in front him, and turns his full lips into a perfect little pout.

Oh, pathetic!

So, there they are, on the small platform with three barber’s chairs and three barbers with clippers buzzing in their hands. Braedan hops into his, smiling and ready. Mark hops into his, with Austin in his arms who refuses to leave. Or even look up. He wasn’t crying but he was definitely hiding.

You can’t see me if I can’t see you.

This child doesn’t mind the crowds!

The announcer assumed Austin was backing out and began to call the next shavee up to the chair, but the little guy kept nodding his head, insisting that he did indeed want to do this. We signaled the other barber, so one could shave Mark’s head and the other do Austin’s while they shared a chair. I’m sure people in the crowd thought we were crazy, forcing our poor child to shave his head, but he let out some small smiles while the hair fell around him and I (the only one of my family to shed any tears) knew that he was proud of himself for going through with it.

I see that sneaky smile

Watching his brother

Here we go

Almost done

And done

As soon as it was over and we made our way to the back of the bar, where we could actually put our children down without fearing they’d be trampled, it was all smiles.

Afterward, Austin described it as “Really really fun,” which is sort of like me talking about running marathons after they’re over. AJ Rocco’s raised over $189,000 on that one afternoon, adding to the more than $15 million raised by St Baldrick’s so far this year.

For the Gallagher family, there are no regrets. But just wait until you hear about the plans for next year . . . .