By Aimee Lewis Strain
When a 3-year-old cuts their hair, you blame yourself. Why did I leave the scissors at toddler height? Why was I talking on the phone instead of watching my child? How did I leave him alone for long enough to do such damage?
But when a 5-year-old snips the bangs of his bleach blond hair, apparently he only has himself to blame.
Take last week, for instance. I had one home sick and another home after his half-day Kindergarten program. It was a quiet afternoon, I actually made chicken soup and tended to my boys, basking in the calm of a day I knew would entail the cancelation of all extra-curricular activities — a blessing after a month straight of the go-go-go.
It was quiet with one child still at school and two home. My son home sick with a cold lay idly on the couch while my younger son, just home from a fun-filled day at school and with an enormous amount of energy was busy playing with his sea creatures in a filled bathroom sink… or at least that’s what I thought at last check.
Sometimes silence is enjoyable, and other times it is suspicious. I should’ve gone with the latter.
Instead, I completed a week’s worth of laundry and smut TV while an hour passed. Feeling exceptionally productive and quite happy as a result, I walked into the family room to check on my sick boy.
It was but two seconds before a 5-year-old’s head charged into my pelvis with the force of a truck. His forehead was pressed hard into my body with force, his arms coiled tightly around my body. Silence again.
Gullibly, I thanked him for his sweet hug. And then he looked up, crocodile tears in his green eyes, and a large, circular patch of hair missing from the top of his head. I was speechless.
Carson had not simply clipped a lock of hair, he had violently chopped the entire front section of his blond hair off with such determination it looked as though he’d used clippers.
As I stared without words, something caught my eye to the left. There sat a pile of white-blond hair underneath the armoire in our family room. His meager attempt to hide it.
When I looked at him square on, all I could muster out was a soft, “What did you do?”
And those were the only punishing words spoken.
Carson immediately burst into tears, knowing what he’d done was wrong. He cried about how silly he looked. He cried even harder at the potential that people might laugh at him. He cried, vowing to wear a hoodie to school every day. He pulled on his spiky short bangs hoping they’d immediately grow. He even tried taping the hair back.
He cried inconsolably for nearly an hour.
And for the first time in my parenting career, no words were needed to teach a child a lesson. I agreed with him that he did look a little silly. I nodded my head that people might laugh a little. I let him know he could wear a hoodie but that he might get hot. No pulling would grow the hair and the tape wouldn’t last.
When his tears dried, in a sniffly, hoarse voice he asked me when his funny hair would go away. I only needed to mention it once: “Sometimes the things we do cannot just disappear. The word for that is consequence.”
The next day he insisted on wearing a brown and white checkered Fedora hat. He didn’t take it off until bedtime. And although he looks a bit funny, he’s dealing with the consequence quite well. And we’re pretty certain his awareness of the end result will prevent him from doing it again.