Parenting with Scissors

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Five-year-old Daughter has been trying to grow her hair long for two years. She came out bald and then sported a bowl cut until she was three. No, I wasn’t intentionally giving her a boy’s haircut. I just snipped a little here and a little there and she looked so cute with it short that it stayed that way.

Mother-in-Law said, “When are you going to grow her hair long like a girl’s?”

Doesn’t she look girlie enough now? Okay, I guess there’s some merit to long hair. We’ll let it grow.

When Daughter entered preschool, many other girls had long hair. She wanted hers long, too. Maybe their moms took extra vitamins during pregnancy or something but some of these girls can really grow their hair! (Maybe their moms didn’t go snip, snip, snip with the scissors that often during their baby and toddlerhood, either.)

Daughter’s hair struggled to reach her shoulders. It struggled to grow past them down towards the middle of her back.

“I want my hair to reach my butt,” she declared.

But with long hair come tangles and a daily battle to comb them out. We bought detangler and a new brush. Still tears.

With long hair also came a battle over when to wear it up.

“It needs to be out of your face,” I said every morning.

She agreed until the middle of her fourth year. Then she fought back. Daughter likes her hair to hang in her face. I can’t stand hair in my face. Maybe it’s a tactile memory from years spent wearing two long braids to school (I was Laura Ingalls.)

I relinquished control over how she wore it except for soccer.

“Strong girls who play sports wear their hair up! You can’t run down the field holding your hair back.”

Somehow the hair band got lost between the car and the field.

By last week, her hair was closing in on her shoulder blades and we were ready for a summer trim.

“Your hair will grow more if it’s healthy. We need to trim these dead ends.”

I bought a pair of haircutting scissors, determined to do better than the slanting bangs I gave her as a toddler and the chop, chop Frankenstein job I did on Son when he was two.

How hard can it be to trim long hair in a straight line?

Pretty hard, it turns out. She moved, I didn’t know what I was doing, her hair somehow sprung back up above her shoulders.

“You’re the worst haircutter ever!” she cried.

I felt terrible. She’d worked so hard to grow her hair out. One slip and the whole thing had to be evened up. Or had I intentionally cut it higher than she wanted? Was I subconsciously trying to control her look? Lotta good that’s going to do me in a few years.

I put her to bed and studied the slightly sad look on her face. I’d disappointed her and it was no one’s fault but my own. She did look cuter with it shorter but who was I to make that call? It was mine to make when she was three. It wouldn’t be mine to make when she was thirteen. Five wasn’t as easy a stage to define.

I worried all night. I told Husband I’d scarred her for life. He doubted this would be the defining factor in her future therapy bills.

When she woke up, Daughter was as happy and carefree as always. I’d already decided not to mention the hair. Buck up, move on, show her how to live with disappointment.

When we entered the bathroom to brush teeth before school, she looked in the mirror. “Oh, I forgot about my haircut,” she said and tried to pull it in front but there was nothing to pull.

“I’m going to wear it up today.”


“That way nobody will know it’s shorter.”

I cringed inside. I’d gotten my way but didn’t like the price. She’ll probably never trust me with a pair of scissors again. Note to self: Better to learn this lesson over a hairstyle than risk losing her trust over something greater later on.

One Comment

  1. I can make you feel better….

    When I was 5, my mother cut the top of my little brother’s ear off giving him a haircut in our kitchen.
    I went to the neighbor’s house while they went to the ER. It wasn’t serious. Didn’t even need a stitch as it turned out, but it scarred me for life.
    I won’t go near my kids with scissors!!

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