11 May the haircut
Thursday evening, Kris and I were relaxing on the patio when Miles came running out, excited and grinning. “You like my haircut, Mommy?”
He turned to the side, and sure enough there was a small bald patch above his ear.
The kids had been in the next room, 15 feet away from us, trimming paper — and hair, apparently — with their jumbo safety scissors. My first thought was, it finally happened. I admit, once I saw that the damage was minimal, I was a little excited to have reached this childhood milestone. I suppressed my laughter, though, and ran inside to see how Bronwynn looked.
Thankfully, her cut was even less noticeable than Miles’. She’d lopped a few inches off the end, underneath several long layers.
Whereas Miles had been proud of his new do, B was clearly aware she’d made a mistake. She averted her eyes and smoothed her hair down to hide the evidence. Then, both kids lied and tried to cover up the whole thing, stuffing clumps of hair in their pockets.
The lying was a bigger offense than the hair cutting, so we sent the kids to their rooms and talked about the consequences of losing our trust. Miles was a little upset, but more confused as to why we weren’t proud of his cutting skills. B, on the other hand, dissolved into a puddle of shame and self-loathing. She announced, through sobs, that no one will ever love her again and she might as well grow up and become a bank robber. Her reasoning: Bank robbers make bad choices. She made a bad choice. There’s nothing left for her on this side of the law.
Being dishonest is painful, I told her. It doesn’t make her a bad person, just human. And nothing she could ever do — even robbing a bank — would make me love her an ounce less than I do right now. That’s the truth. I also assured her that tomorrow is a new day.
She went to sleep crying, and I wept too, because I worried that she really does think no one will love her if she’s not perfect.
Five seems a little young to be such a perfectionist, but she comes by it naturally. It’s one of the biggest lessons I keep relearning in life. I don’t have to do it all, or be everything to everyone. I will not say the right things or do the right things in every situation. I am far from perfect. I am enough.
The next day, B had a breakthrough. She woke up happy and relieved that it was indeed a new day. We talked briefly about the haircut, and I reminded her we all make mistakes, and it was time to move on.
B usually gets really embarrassed if she makes a mistake at school. She typically wouldn’t tell her favorite teacher, Theresa, about getting in trouble. She craves Theresa’s love and approval in the same way she craves mine and Kris’. But on Friday, she told Theresa the whole entire hair-cutting saga, including the cover-up. It was a beautiful opportunity for someone else to reinforce what I’ve been teaching my daughter, that she is loved and accepted, that it feels good to be honest and be heard and seen as imperfect as we are.
There’s such peace in that, isn’t there? When we can stop spinning our wheels, lean into authenticity, be vulnerable, and find support and love.