When I was five, I loved the sound of scissors cutting hair. That noise gave me a tingling adrenaline rush, a strange ecstasy.
I know. Yes, I have always been this strange.
I waited until my mother was vacuuming in the other end of the house. I went to the craft drawer and removed my safety scissors – the child-size ones with just a small amount of metal blade embedded in the pink and white plastic. I crawled behind the green (it was 1982, people) couch and gave into temptation.
Oh, the beautiful slicing sound! I closed my eyes while I listened to it, enjoying the new sensation of knowing exactly when it would happen because it was in tandem with my fingers moving the scissors.
But ever the goody-goody, I stopped myself at two slices of bang. I wanted to be sure I didn’t get caught and I wasn’t sure how much longer mom would be occupied. So, to be certain no one would ever know, I spread the wispy blonde hair, like confetti or flower seeds, behind the couch (yes, my mother is that much better a housekeeper than me – she frequently moved furniture when cleaning).
Once I had replaced the scissors, I felt jubilant. I had done it! My secret was safe! I got away with it! I was so smart…my careful planning and good ideas had really come through and I’d triumphed the oppression that is being five.
Then my mother came through the kitchen, humming. She smiled at me as she was going past, cheerful and loving.
Can you imagine MY face? The “I’m-innocent-don’t-worry-about-whatever-I’ve-been-doing” smile, the bright, wide eyes, the odd body posture as I stood there, doing nothing, going nowhere, suddenly aware how obtuse my inactivity was at that exact moment?
I still remember when my mother’s eyebrows lifted, her eyes (which are nearly identical to mine) widened like a ripple in water, arms hanging akimbo and her foot making a sudden thump as she drew up to a sudden stop on the linoleum floor.
My face must have fallen just a little bit, my composure fissuring.
“Jessica Mae! Did you cut your hair?!”
At this point I actually remember physically being aware of my shoulders dropping, my mouth hanging open, the muscles in my face feeling literally pulled down by gravity I had forgotten existed. A burst of complete awe opened in the back of my brain and I exclaimed “HOW did you KNOW?!”
I vaguely remember mom looking at my like “Oh PULEEEZE!” and I’ve never stopped believing it took me years to stop believing she was actually magic. (This helped a lot in encouraging me to follow the rules. Most of my sneakiness died right there. I was no fool.)
You can guess where this is going.
Little Cowgirl has new, oddly shaped bangs and layering on the right side of her face.
I took away all the scissors and put them with the pens in my desk. I told her she will have to ask before she may use them and then she will have to do her cutting work in the same room as me.
Then, I found odd places of missing hair on the tamest of a new litter of kittens we were given last week.
I told her she may not use scissors at all for the rest of the summer. She will have to wait until kindergarten.
She doesn’t know it’s only a month until then, but it will feel like forever to her regardless. As we were going to sleep last night, I worried out loud to My Farmer that I was too harsh. But there’s so much going on at this house that I tend to forget if-then rules (if you want to use scissors, then you have to ask me first and use them in the same room as me) and my children know and take advantage of this. They have openly told me before, “I thought you had forgotten by now.” Also, I’m a believer in erring on the side of too much rather than too little. It’s easier for everyone to come down (you have been showing me with your good behavior that you are ready to fill in the blank again) then to ramp up (I already told you not to X! Now I’m going to Y to make sure you don’t anymore!).
I’m sure my mother is enjoying this post even more than usual. Love you Mom, thanks for being magic. Little Cowgirl is far too pragmatic for that, but at least she won’t have a new haircut for the next month.