In four days I go to Ireland, and I'm already having nightmares about being apart from the kids for several nights in a row. Not much time to worry about that, though, because the copyedited book manuscript has to be approved before then, one change at a time for 300 pages. I have student papers to read, a story to write, a birthday party to host (S turns 5 in two days! Alert the media!) and a large check to write to the nice guys who are finishing the roof that replaces the blue tarp of doom. They are pounding away on the shingles right now.
Not much time left over to freak out, but wait...
I came into the kitchen yesterday afternoon to find a pair of scissors sitting between the kids. They were at work on the kitchen table, each of them drawing away. G was writing a picture book about Spongebob. He does dialog and story lines. He draws the pictures. The story had this huge plot full of desires, obstacles, misdirection, puns. He writes better than anyone in the family. S was busy drawing detailed pictures of pirates leaping from a clipper ship. The details are incredible. The pirates have shoelaces, they have ears, they have buttons, they have sleeves. She has put multiple sails on each mast. I try not to show my shock.
As to the scissors: these were not ordinary scissors. These are the scissors that the mommy person keeps hidden in the upstairs bathroom, because they are used for cutting hair. Back when G would let me cut his hair, back when S was too little to preen, I used these on the kids. What are they doing in the kitchen? I'm afraid I asked that question with a little more force than intended. They both looked up, startled, and said in unison, "Nothing." (They both lie now. Gone forever are the days when S will flip her hair and say "Well, of course" to the question, "Did you just pee yourself?")
I used my mommy psychic powers and zoomed in on S. "Were you cutting your hair?" No, she said. "Are you sure?" Why do mothers ask this? This question never yields a confession. Never. Not even in a four-year-old. I'm afraid I asked it twice. No, she said again and again. Then she did this thing that she does when she wants to impress on me how stupid my questions really are. She flipped her palms into the air and shook them at me, bouncing them for emphasis on each word. "We're just using them to cut paper," she said. Every syllable betrayed her frustration. And then she shook her head sadly, as though mommies this dumb should not be allowed out of the house. The only trouble is that huge hunks of hair were missing from her scalp. "Honey," I said. "Look at this. What did you do?" And that's when S screwed her shoulders up to her ears and said, "Well, my hair was stuck together." As though this explains everything.
I started in on the lecture, the one about how we don't cut our hair and how if you want long hair, as she does, then hacking at it with scissors is not a good strategy, but Larry intervened. Let it go, he said. Maybe a few days away isn't such a bad thing.