The first time Marcie Benitez cut Ben Stanley's hair, he was just two months old.
"He was born with a lot of hair," says his mother Lisa, of Ridgefield. "Some kids are born totally bald, but he was ready for a haircut at two months. I sat down in the chair and held him in my lap while she cut his hair."
When Marcie left her hairstyling job in Bethel to open a shop in Sandy Hook, Lisa and her sons Ben and Billy followed.
Marcie's new shop was calledFun Kuts -- now a Sandy Hook establishment. Lisa and her sons would drive to Newtown to visit her siblings, who live in the Sandy Hook area -- but mainly, she says, they'd come for the haircuts.
"We followed her," Lisa says. She says when Ben was little, he would refuse to let anyone but Marcie cut his hair. Meanwhile, Benitez grew close to the Stanleys -- more than just a barber, she became a confidant and a friend.
"When he was in kindergarten, he even asked if Marcie was his aunt," she laughs.
Since that first haircut at two months, Ben has come to see Marcie for almost every haircut he's ever had. Along the way, he's gotten to know her -- and she's gotten to know him. She checks up on his life during every haircut, asking about his family and his progress in school. (Ben, 14, is entering high school this month.)
Every now and then, Ben has gotten haircuts somewhere else -- if the family is out of town, or if their schedule doesn't permit the trip to Newtown. But Ben says it's not the same if Marcie isn't doing the job.
"It's way better here," he says. "She doesn't ever cut my ear by accident. There's no accidental knicks. She just knows me, and she knows my hair."
In the video: Hair stylist and Fun Kuts owner Marcie Benitez describes her friendship with Ben Stanley.