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Perhaps I should have just gone to beauty school and gotten a license to cut hair. If timed right, I do a pretty decent job. And by that I mean the family members whose hair I cut are satisfied.

My daughter said, "you still could, then at least you would be getting paid to listen to strangers' lives." I asked her how short she wanted it, then made the first chop. Her auburn hair starting falling to the grass as I imagined myself to be Edward Scissorhands, only slower and not as pale.

Then we chatted about things as mothers and grown daughters do, noticing for the first time she was getting a sprinkling of white hair. We talked about my father, dead for nine years now, how he always went to the barber shop on a weekly basis. The men on his side of the family went white young, though you could barely tell with him, his hair kept under one-half inch at all times.

I remembered one of the last times I saw him before he died. He asked me to shave his face, which at the time, in the hospital, seemed far too intimate but I did it anyway. He was briefly happy and then he died a few days later. Pulled back from my reverie, my daughter shook her head side to side and I brushed off her shoulders a few trimmings, watched as the wind blew some of her hair away. She went inside to shower and shampoo.

I got a beer and sat in a chair, in the late afternoon sun, wondering how many bird nests would be made from her lovely hair.

Back when Anna was, oh I dunno, somewhere between the age of three and five and was staying with me over a typical weekend I had one duty and one duty only. She was getting ready to go to “something” (I forget if it was a party or a school event but it really doesn’t matter) and I was supposed to get her a haircut. Nothing drastic mind you, just a trim of her bangs which were getting pretty long and hanging down over her eyes.

Me, being the dutiful and ever loving father decided against taking her to a professional and would handle the job myself. After all, how hard could it be to lope off a quarter or half an inch in a straight line? Besides my feeling of accomplishment and self satisfaction at a job well done, I figured I’d also save a few bucks in the process.

So I hunted down a pair of scissors, sat her down in a chair and then a revelation came to me. It would be much easier to cut the bangs if they were wet. That’s how I’d seen it done before. So, with the dexterity of a surgeon I took on the task at hand.

Snip, snip, snip… snip, snip, snip.

There, all done…

”Hmmm , wait a minute, they still look pretty long… Sit down honey.”

Snip, snip, snip…. snip, snip, snip.

”That’s better, ok honey off you go. Have fun!”

Fast forward to an hour or two later.

”Hey honey, come on down, it’s time for lunch.”

She came bounding down the stairs and I couldn’t believe my eyes. Her bangs, which I thought ended somewhere in the middle of her forehead when I finished, had completely vanished. I mean, they were at the top of her forehead and still shrinking. It looked like they were receding back into their roots. She looked ridiculous and not in any kind of cute way either. At first I thought “Did her head somehow grow bigger in those couple of hours?” but then I realized my mistake. It seems that when your hair is wet it looks a lot longer than it does when it’s dry. I couldn’t have done a worse job if I used an axe.

It’s been years but I think I remember her mom taking her to a barbershop to try and fix the damage I managed to inflict with a few quick snips of a scissor.

What’s that they say about the best laid plans…?

So here’s my advice to all you budding fathers out there who, through no fault of your own, want to do something special for your younger siblings.

Sometimes it’s better to leave it to the pro’s.

She’s eighteen now and even though we still laugh about this little incident, she still looks at me in disbelief when it comes up.

Thank God there aren’t any pictures.

When my oldest daughter was a baby, her hair grew in mohawk fashion. Eventually I snipped the long front part, but there was nothing I could do about the stubborn part on the left side. As she grew, her hair turned curly, and it may seem like an exaggeration to say this happened overnight, but she went to bed with straight her one evening, and when she woke up the next morning, her head was full of street urchin curls. By the time she was two and a half, her hair was a gorgeous mess of tangled blonde snarls. Putting it up was frustrating, her hair is fine so hair things slid out of it, and she liked to pull out the ones that did anchor her hair well.

I was in the bathroom with her, various hair care products, a comb, and a brush when it finally got to be too much. I was sick of trying to comb out the matted knots of hair, she would cry every day when we had to fix her hair, and it was suddenly no longer worth it even though I really enjoyed seeing her with her hair done. I took a scissors to her hair, and kept cutting until her hair framed her face. That summer she had a bright coral colored dress with a single large flower on the front. We took her over to see my grandparents, and I have a great picture of her sitting quietly on a child sized chair listening to my grandfather who was slowing down while she was a bundle of youth filled energy.

My grandfather commented on how well her haircut had turned out. I had cut hair before, but I was a relatively inexperienced stylist, and it was dumb luck that her hair turned out as well as it had. My grandfather is ninety now. He has trouble with his memory, and sometimes can't articulate what he wants to say. He understands what you say to him, and he smiles when we are humorous. It's hard to visit him, I don't make the time like I should, and I'm going to make that a priority this summer. His mother lived to be ninety-six, she had very long hair, but it was always neatly coiled on top of her head, even in the nursing home.

Hair is living art. The way that people sculpt it, wear it, color it, remove it; the process fascinates me. My children have had streaks in their hair before, my daughter put some pink in her hair the other day after she found a can of colored hairspray, but I like it best when she's laying in bed after a long day, totally worn out from her active lifestyle, because that's when I can tuck it behind her ear, kiss her cheek, and remember the first time she sat in front of the mirror, gazing at herself without recognition or understanding, innocently trusting that there was a method behind her mother's scissor wielding madness.

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