Lizzy Scissorhands (Hair Today, Gone Tomorrow)

>> Thursday, June 28, 2007

I was happily washing lettuce. Michael and the girls were outside looking through magazines and cutting comics out of the newspaper. Michael came in, asked about dinner, then went outside again.

After I heard the screen door close, I heard Michael gasp, “Oh, no! Elizabeth. Never, ever do that! Nooo!”

The screen door opened and shut again, and Michael returned with a pair of scissors in one hand and a lock of Elizabeth’s hair in the other.

It was bound to happen. Scissor-happy Lizzy is always cutting something. She loves to cut pictures out of magazines and then tape them together. My favorite cutting project was the time she snipped all the heads out of a pad of paper we often find tucked in our front door. There, lined neatly in a row, was our local realtor, one head after the other -- some with slightly less hair, some with slightly more, but all smiling.

Pair that with her frequent complaints about her hair “bothering” her neck, and it was inevitable. Not to mention she’s “threatened” to cut it several times by pretending to do it and gauging our reaction. Apparently our stern No and Don’t Ever Do That wasn’t enough to dissuade her.

Before I could go outside, Michael made me promise I would first put on my “mother” hat and remove my “laughing-my-ass-off” hat. I managed after a few deep breaths.

“Oh Lizzy, what happened to your hair?” Elizabeth was silent. She knows when to keep her mouth shut. Upon closer inspection, it didn’t look like she’d cut one small snippets-worth of hair. Between her ear and her chin were several tentative chops. Then I noticed the discarded blonde locks lying on the patio.

I know Michael was disappointed. He liked her long hair. I did, too. Like Pavlov’s dog, I felt a mild anxiety that came from reliving every bad hair cut I’d ever received in my life. In an instant I went through the major stages. Fear: What if I can’t make it look better? Anger: We’re horrible! We should rush in there and tell her how beautiful she is! Denial: It’s really not that bad. Acceptance: At least it’s off her neck now -- and it’s just about the cutest neck I’ve ever seen. In a way, I’m happy we’ll be seeing more of it this summer.

It all happened so fast. Michael was inside for less than a minute when she cut her hair. I would love to know if she’d planned to do it, or if she was swept away by a spontaneous desire to follow through on her previous threats.

It was hard for me to be angry with her. I understood her desire to take a chance and travel down a forbidden path to see what all the fuss is about. How many times had I gotten a bad hair cut on a whim; my curiosity getting the better of my fear and common sense; doing it quickly before I changed my mind.

I’m reminded of a friend who moved back to Iowa after living in San Diego. She hadn’t experienced snow in several years. Then one morning she awoke to piles of it. There was her car, blocked in by a large embankment of snow across her driveway, a gift from the snow plows. This is snow, she thought. She felt it fall softly though her fingertips. This is my car. It is large and red and heavy. Snow -- lightweight. Car -- heavy. Drive car through snow? Yes!

No. It didn’t work out. Just like Lizzy Scissorhands.

But I love that moment of hopeful anticipation. The moment when you’re about to do something you know you shouldn’t, and every ounce of common sense is telling you not to do it. But there’s one small part of you that wants to know if it can be done, who wants to experience it and know with all certainty what the final outcome will be. Can I climb Mt. Everest? Can I blast through this embankment of snow? Can I cut my own hair? It sounds crazy, but I’m gonna do it!

Sometimes we are successful. Sometimes we’re not. In a way, I admire her for taking the chance. (I won’t be telling her that anytime soon, though.) I may not like the results, but at least she was being creative. And it’s only hair. Now she gets to hear the phrase we’ve all heard before: It’ll grow back.

Later, as she watched Sesame Street (Old School), I attempted to even-out her hair. It’s not perfect by a long shot. This weekend I’ll take her to the kids’ salon to perfect it -- maybe something in a Dorothy Hamill bob.

Meanwhile, the scissors are off-limits for a week.

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