I stopped dead in my tracks, eyes wide, as I took in the sight of my four-year-old daughter, hair hacked off just below her jaw line with stray remnants of her beautiful long golden brown locks hanging as strings that she had missed with the scissors. “Oh, Maggie, your hair!” I wanted to cry. “Sorry, Mama,” was all she said. Hazel eyes looked into mine. I read them clearly, expectation, a hint of fear, and a challenge. Would I bring her along on Serrah’s third birthday outing to the hair dresser and out for ice cream?” The last thing I wanted to do was to reward my naughty child. Maggie’s usually boisterous voice was lowered to a hoarse whisper, “I wanted a haircut too.” “I can see that. Maggie Ann, you know better. What am I going to do with you?” I stared at the strands of hair hanging down and knew this was a disaster only a professional could remedy. I had no choice but to bring her along. It would seem her dubious plan was hatched. I shook my head in disbelief, “Alright, girls, get your sweaters. We better get going.” Serrah giggled, eyes on Maggie’s self inflicted bob, “Maggie! You look funny. How did you do that? How did you cut your hair like that? You can’t cut my hair. The beauty shop lady is going to cut mine” Oh for the love. My eyes rolled as sheer admiration danced in Serrah’s blue eyes. She was in awe of her older sister’s moxie! I need to squash this, right now! “Scissors are not for little girls to cut their hair with! No more scissors for either of you unless there is a grown up person with you!”
My two little sweetlings tried to stifle their giggles, whispering to each other in the back seat as we headed to the beauty shop. Serrah was delighted to have Maggie crash her birthday outing. My authority had been completely usurped. My mind was a tangle of exasperation, amusement, and the contagious spirit of adventure that was charging the air with every stifled giggle. This was not the day I had planned. “Oh my. What have we here?” The hair dresser sized up Maggie’s ridiculous hair. She “tsk’d” some more, “We can fix this. I’ve seen worse. At least she didn’t hack off her bangs like most kids do.” Yes, please share your ideas for the next time my child gets scissor happy, I did an inner eye roll. Fading into the shadows, I secretly enjoyed the scene. My precocious little girls sat in neighboring chairs, perched on booster seats, draped with capes, grinning at each other and then at themselves in the mirrors they faced. The sisters were officially in cahoots, eyes twinkling as they giggled and beamed at each other. I give up. They are having way too much fun. It WAS Serrah’s birthday, after all. She was enjoying her day more, sharing it with Maggie. My frustrations melted away. I couldn’t help feeling the joy of this day, the joy of each moment. I was already cherishing the memory as it was being etched onto my heart.
Lyle couldn’t help but react to the absence of golden brown hair that had hung down half way to his eldest daughter’s waist, “Oh, no! Maggie Ann! What did you do to your hair?” The phone call, that I had hoped would soften the blow to her daddy, hadn’t prepared him. Shock and horror stole across his face as he walked through the door. “Well, we aren’t gonna spoil Serrah’s birthday. I’ll have to deal with you tomorrow,” he forewarned Maggie. Clever beyond her years, Serrah laid the trap for him, “Don’t we look pretty, Daddy?” What could he say? He scowled at her, knowing he had been snared, “Of course. You both look beautiful.” Under my breath I muttered, “Oh boy, she’s got you.” All he could do was shake his head. Under his breath, he muttered, “Just wait till tomorrow. I’ll give her “pretty”… right across her ass.” Before there was Red Foreman, there was Lyle P. Sommerfeld. I knew, that by the next day, his resolve would be softened. There would be no spanking. He came at it again from a different angle, “Aren’t you sad that your hair is all gone? You had such beautiful long hair, Maggie.” Serrah didn’t miss a beat, “My hair won’t get long. Me and Mama tried. It can’t grow. Daddy, don’t you think MY hair is beautiful?” OH, she is GOOD, I was incredulous. What on earth would she come up with next? “Give up. You’ve been beat.” I whispered to Lyle as I hugged him out of pity. He shook his head in resignation, “What the hell.” The girls grinned at each other once again. The defense rests.
After I tucked the three younger kiddos in, I caught the tail end of Lyle’s last ditch attempt at asserting some sort of authority over the day’s events, “Are you going to cut anymore hair, yours or anyone else’s, ever again?” Maggie was contrite, “No, daddy. I’m sorry, Daddy.” “That goes for you, too, Serrah.” “I won’t, Daddy. Promise,” Serrah responded a bit too sweetly. I smiled to myself as I imagined her little fingers crossed under the covers. Somewhere, in that “promise,” was a loophole. I was certain of it. There would be more scissors and more hair mayhem through the years. After all, what fun would Serrah’s third birthday have been if the day hadn’t begun with Maggie’s self-inflicted hair disaster?