As new parents, we all look forward to those iconic childhood milestones.
The first smile, first steps, the first wiggly tooth.
What we don’t look forward to? Seeing chunks of a child’s hair in the bathroom
With my oldest teen’s permission, I will tell the story of how she cut her own
hair, and my reaction to it. It happened when she was five years old. And, of
course, it happened the day before she started kindergarten and right before
those iconic school pictures.
My daughter’s hair was thick, and stick-straight. I always trimmed it myself,
including her bangs. It wasn’t fancy, but it worked. That weekend, she was
ready for school. She had her uniform, her school supplies and her backpack.
She also had gorgeous hair that reached the middle of her back.
Silence is never good
Thinking back, it was too quiet that afternoon
when I walked upstairs to put away
the laundry. I went into my bathroom to
hang up towels and that’s when I saw it –
a good five or six inches of jet-black, silky
hair coiled on top of the wastebasket. I
knew I had not cut anyone’s hair recently,
so I was a bit puzzled. Where did it come
It took a moment.
I found my daughter in her room, with
her beautiful hair much, much shorter,
all around. The bangs, which I painstakingly
measured to make them even, were
choppy and sparse. “What did you do?” I asked her. She
looked at me. “What did you do?” I asked again. Nothing.
“WHAT DID YOU DO?”
What she had done was get my hair scissors,
which I naively kept in my bathroom vanity drawer, and given herself a haircut.
She said later that she wanted a haircut before her first day of school.
I asked why she didn’t ask me to cut it.
She gave me the answer of a typical five-year-old: She shrugged.
It came out of the blue. This was the child who asked permission for everything.
A rule-follower, she was the family snitch when it came to her younger
sister’s toddler transgressions. I didn’t know quite what to do.
There really wasn’t much to do. By the time I was done freaking out, she was
crying and repentant. So I took her back to the crime scene – er, my bathroom – and
assessed the damage. Naturally it was Labor Day and no hair salons were open.
I must admit, she didn’t do a bad job. I trimmed around the bottom to make
that formerly ponytail-length hair into a pageboy. The bangs were a different
story. I evened them up, but there was a whole section missing. Fortunately,
the gap was on one side and could be hidden a bit. All in all, it could have been
Once we were done, I gave her a hug and a kiss. It wasn’t about the hair, I
said. It was about asking permission. It was about the possibility that she could
have hurt herself or someone else using very sharp scissors.
Contrary to my husband’s prediction, she went on to have a successful career
using scissors in school. There was no lasting damage to our relationship or her
hair. We laugh about it now.
And I learned the First Rule of Parenting: Silence is not always golden, It could
“I learned the First Rule of Parenting:
Silence is not always golden, It could mean trouble.”