It’s inevitable. About the time when a child learns to use scissors, age three around here, something disastrous happens. I know, I know, why am I surprised? You’re right, I was kind of prepared for this, the dread fascination with cutting things just by moving your fingers.
What I wasn’t prepared for is what would get cut. A shirt they don’t really like maybe. An important document, sure. A doll’s hair, or even their own hair. Everyone does the hair thing, right?
But I am baffled by my children. At age three, they inevitably take scissors to the thing they love most in the world.
When Ella was three, we got a tip that a local thrift store had some great deals on really nice shirts. I marvel at how easy it was to just get in the car and go, because that’s what we did. Sadly, we didn’t find any shirts. The trip was worth it, though, because Ella spotted an adorable dress. If you have little girls, you know princess dresses are everywhere and that most are poorly made. This one was not by Disney, though. It was cotton on top, with a full length tulle skirt, and laced up in the back. We were both smitten by it, and it was only five dollars. Sold.
On the way home, Ella said, “Why don’t we go somewhere fancy tonight?” So we did. Dinner at a pizza place is fancy if you have the right dress. This dress made every day fancy, and Ella loved it.
Then one morning I was getting ready to do some errands and walked in Ella’s bedroom to hear “snip, snip, snip.” I was aghast. “Ella, why are you cutting your dress?!?”
“I don’t know.” She looked at me, her face red, scared of the trouble she was in.
“You love that dress!”
The two top layers of the tulle were in tatters, but Aunt Destiny came to the rescue and made it look decent again, thought it will never be the same. And Ella never showed the least bit of remorse for the (bad) alterations she made to her favorite possession. “It looks like a fairy!” She was optimistic, and I was way more upset than she was.
And she never cut anything she wasn’t supposed to cut again.
But then it was Isaac’s turn. All week, Isaac brought his helicopter with him everywhere. It is a rescue helicopter with a line and a hook that can actually pull things up into the cockpit. My husband saw it one night in a bookstore and it was so clearly perfect for Isaac, he bought it right there and then. Isaac has loved this toy for months and his attachment to it was at an all time high this week. So I was a little surprised to hear Ella ask him on Saturday morning, “Isaac! did you cut the hook off your helicopter?”
Isaac denied it.
“Mommy, did you cut the hook off of Isaac’s helicopter?”
“What? I would never cut the hook of his helicopter!” I was horrified.
Isaac quickly picked up on that line. “No, I would never cut the hook of my helicopter.”
Then we found the scissor and the hook in his room.
Stunned again. A favorite toy, destroyed at the hands of its owner for no apparent reason other than the desire to cut something. But why the favorite thing? And once again, no remorse! Boy, I was mad.
I wasn’t upset about the money these items cost. I wasn’t even mad that the scissors were used inappropriately. I was sad and mad for my children’s sake. Their beloved objects were ruined by their own hands. Surely they would feel the effects. They must be just hiding the guilt and heartbroken pangs.
But then. Then it was my turn.
I didn’t have any scissors. I’m not three years old. But I did the exact same thing. In fact, I do it all the time.
I tell my exuberant, cheery, affectionate boy, “Would you please calm down and stop jumping on me!” when really he just wants to lavish hugs on his mother and be hugged in return.
I tell my precise, careful, beauty-loving daughter, “It’s okay if the butterfly’s wings are not the same size on your drawing. It’s pretty and we don’t have time to fix it right now,” when all she really wants is to do her very best and create a beautiful card for her great, great aunt.
I whisper to my three-month-old baby girl, “Please, would you just fall asleep without me holding you for half an hour tonight?” when she just needs the comfort of her mama because her dadgum first tooth will just not come through and be done with it, and anyway, who does not want a snugly baby?
I take my scissors and I try to change my favorite, favorite, favoritest things in the world: my children.
There are plenty of areas I need to train my children in, plenty of ways I need to mold and shape and sand down some rough edges. We are all flawed and need saving from ourselves. But the beautiful things in their nature that God wants me to foster and cherish should not be the things I try to squelch or cut out willy nilly when some part of these characteristics is inconvenient for me. I need to put down my scissors.
Maybe I wouldn’t have ever even noticed my tendency to do this if I hadn’t agonized over why my children cut their favorite things. I should probably thank them for being small packages of pure human nature that I get to learn from every day. I am thankful for what they unknowingly teach me.
But my goodness, I’m still going to hide their scissors! And it’s time to hide my own scissors, too.
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