Saturday, November 21, 2009

The First Cut is the Deepest

"Making the decision to have a child is momentous. It is to decide forever to have your heart go walking around outside your body." -Elizabeth Stone

After more than 2 1/2 years, it had to be done. My daughter's curly blond locks were getting unruly. Out of control. Entangled in a web of chaos and concern. Brushing her hair was becoming a painful task. It had to be done.

So my wife made an appointment for a haircut.A $20 haircut, mind you. For a toddler.

Her greatest fear: cutting off those signature curls that we - you - love so much. How short do we go? Will they grow back? How much is too much?

Also, we didn't know what to expect from the peanut. She can be hesitant, unsure, and downright stubborn when new experiences are involved. Will she even go through with it? Will she sit in the chair? Will she cry? Throw a fit? Run away?

She did none of that. All she did was insist my wife sit with her. And I stood there and watched.

She looked at herself in the mirror, and smiled. Because she enjoys looking at herself in the mirror. And why shouldn't she? She's beautiful like her mom, and self-absorbed like her dad.

She titled her head back and forth, all the while grinning, as the hairdresser wet her head. I stood as a casual observer.

Then came that first cut. It seemed to happen in slow motion. The blades of the scissors methodically closing together with a chunck of my daughter's hair in between them.

In an instant, it was done. The hairdresser caught the discarded locks and transferred them to my hand.

And I nearly lost it. Tears welled up in my eyes. I started doing that silent, shaking, cheek-rattling, heavy breathing, hide-you-are-crying-at-all-costs thing.

This is a part of my daughter that is now gone forever. The only tiny evidence of it rests in my large hand. A part of her personality, her image, her aura... as miniscule as it may be... snipped off with much anticipation but little fanfare.

This is part of my little girl that's been with her for her entire life. And the enormity of that thought overwhelmed me. The finality of the simple act of cutting off a piece of her hair, didn't seem fair. Neither did her inability to acknowledge it.

She didn't mind at all. She continued grinning, head-tilting. But I felt my little girl grew up a little bit more at that moment. She had moved on. Taken another small step toward wherever she is going. I see her walking up the stairs one foot per step now, instead of two.

She's growing up.

Putting the past behind her. Sooner than I can imagine, she'll kick the dust of this sleepy old town off her heels, and will see the world.

In her wake, you'll find her dad... a blubbering, sobbing, nostalgic mess.

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