One night last week, I was complaining to my friend Brandy about Allyson's fascination with scissors. I told her how Allyson had cut holes in the bottom of a reusable grocery bag that morning with her little craft scissors.
"You know what she's going to do next, right?" Brandy asked. I nodded as she continued. "She's going to cut her hair. You'd better keep those scissors out of her reach."
"I know," I said. "It's just that there really isn't any place that's truly out of her reach any more. But you're right. I was about her age when I cut a chunk out of my hair. Or maybe I was four."
I told her the story. My mother had been so busy taking care of baby Emily that she hadn't even noticed until I announced proudly, "Scissors can cut hair." Turning around sharply, she spotted an inch-long tuft of hair to the left of my forehead.
The first thing she did was spank me, and I think (based on the picture below) the next thing she did was cut a matching piece on the other side of my forehead. I guess she couldn't give me bangs because they would have covered too wide of a section. As you can see, it didn't look so bad....
After I'd laughed over the story with Brandy, I resolved to find a way to lock up the scissors; what I needed was something like a gun case where I could lock up all Allyson's craft supplies and my scrapbooking papers, too. That would stop her from cutting my best sheets into tatters AND protect her hair (and various household objects). Or maybe I'd just get another plastic doorknob lock and stash it all in the downstairs bathroom closet.
Despite my best intentions, I didn't get a chance to follow through. Would you believe that Allyson cut her hair the very next day?
I was on the phone with her Auntie Lisa at the time. Early in the conversation, I let Allyson have the phone, just after I'd explained to Lisa about my daily slump at 3:00, when I often melt into sleep. Allyson told Lisa she wanted to go to the park, and I could hear Lisa's reply: "Is it almost 3:00? You'd better hurry before your mama falls asleep."
"Oh, she's not sleepin'," Allyson said. "She only sleeps when I'm not busy."
"Ain't that the truth," I thought ruefully. "And if she does let me sleep, it's only so she can get really busy while I'm not looking."
I had no sooner reclaimed the phone than Allyson started begging to talk again. I moved from my bedroom to the TV room, then back to my room, then to my closet. Allyson finally tired of following me around and retired to her room.
When she shut the door, little alarm bells went off in my head, but I was too engrossed in laughing with Lisa to take action. About five minutes later, we hung up, and I opened Allyson's door with trepidation.
She gave me a crooked, rather guilty smile, her craft scissors half hidden behind her back. Several six-inch strands of golden, silky hair lay in a pile at her feet.
"Oh, Allyson!" I wailed, horribly disappointed and exasperated at the same time. That very morning, two people at MOPS had commented on Allyson's gorgeous hair. Now, I was berating myself for not locking up the scissors when I had the chance. Maybe this was my punishment for being vain about my daughter's hair.
I had the same initial reaction as my own mother had; I gave Allyson a couple of swats. She wept bitterly, but I think she was more upset about my disappointment than about the mild spanking.
"Now we'll have to cut your pretty hair," I said. I held out the shortest strand, my fingers just grazing her shoulder. "This is how short it will be," I said.
Allyson was sobbing so hard she could barely speak. "I don't w-want to c-cut my hair!"
I took her to my room and pulled her into my lap on the rocking chair where I'd spent hours nursing her just a couple of years ago. She buried her face in my shoulder, and I held her close and stroked her hair. "It's going to be okay," I promised. "You'll always be beautiful. And your hair will grow back." Still she cried.
She cried all the way to the kids' hair salon where she'd had her first trim a few months back. When we got out of the car, her little body heaved one last quavering sigh, and then she put on a brave face.
As I was signing her in, one of the stylists gave Allyson a welcoming smile. "Do you need a haircut?" she asked brightly. Allyson broke into fresh tears, and the lady looked at me quizzically.
"She just gave herself a haircut," I explained. "We need you to fix it. Don't cry, sweetie," I pleaded. "It's going to be okay."
The stylist asked if she wanted to sit in the firetruck chair and watch a princess video, and a hint of a smile curved Allyson's lips when she nodded.
"Okay, let's see what we've got here." The top of Allyson's hair was still held back with an elastic band, so I took it down and smoothed her hair with my fingers.
"That's not so bad," the stylist said. "It's covered up now." Then Allyson moved her head to see the screen better, and the top hair swung to the side. "But you can definitely see it."
We talked it over and decided bangs and tapered sides would be the best way to camouflage the damage. "Would you like bangs?" she asked. Allyson stared at her blankly until she gestured to her own bangs, and then Allyson brightened.
A few minutes later, my little three-year-old looked like a young lady. I couldn't believe the transformation. "Oh, honey, you look beautiful!" I exclaimed. Allyson beamed.
On the way home, Allyson had a sudden realization. "Now I have bangs like Olivia!" she announced. "Not Olivia the pig, Olivia my friend," she clarified. (Olivia the pig is featured in both a favorite TV program and a favorite library book.) "I wonder if Olivia got her bangs at the barber, too."
Since then, Allyson has told her story to everyone we've seen, always with a flourish of her gracefully tapered hair. "I cut my hair with scissors, and then we had to go to the barber and get some bangs," she explains.
I hope the joy of the bangs does not outweigh the memory of the initial horror. Maybe I'd better go buy that gun case.