By Erika: Scarred for Life

Each of us has slivers of childhood memories — tiny memories among the vast sea of our experience that are somehow sharper than the others. You know, those painful little pesky ones that, try as you might, won’t go away. Pick at them with tweezers all you like… they only go in deeper. Maybe it was the day of a field trip when you forgot your sack lunch and had to sit there with nothing to eat and pretend it was OK because you weren’t that hungry anyway. Maybe it was when you heard your mom telling a family friend that you were “getting little boobies.” Or, maybe it was the day you got your period while wearing white pants with rainbow pinstripes and you had to ride the bus home wondering how you would get off the bus and walk to your front door without anyone noticing your backside.

We all have these hellish memory slivers, which make great stories now, but were just about our complete undoing (or so it felt at the time). As a parent, I consider it a primary goal to be as infrequent a source of these traumatized memory slivers as possible. You
just never know what it could be – some “harmless” thing you said about their favorite TV show or some unfulfilled promise for ice cream that you forgot you made. But last night my 7-year-old son, without question, had a sliver opportunity.

Just so no one thinks I am totally clueless, I must tell you that I cut my children’s hair for the first two years of their lives. Maybe it was even three. Although I am no professional, I have to say it looked pretty darn good. I have a track record and the photos to prove it. Last night was another story. All I was attempting was a simple ear trim to clean up the haircut to last another few weeks. There was no blood. But as my 7-year-old wiggled while standing naked in the shower (easier cleanup that way) I managed to make entry into the point of no return where you go farther and farther, trying to fix the un-fixable. A few minutes later, my boy was covered in hair saying “Itchy! Itchy!” and I was shouting, “Hold still, this looks terrible!!” I finally tried to convince him to just let me shave his head like Daddy’s, to which he lamented, “But Daddy’s hair looks STUPID! He never even HAS any!” He was about in tears when I eventually realized I’d better stop while I was ahead and have it fixed after school tomorrow by a professional. It was bad. Quite bad. But I tried to shift gears and say it wasn’t so bad and kids wouldn’t notice anyway and off he went to bed.

The next morning, one look at him and my heart sank. It WAS pretty bad. He didn’t say anything about that, but as the time to go to school came nearer and nearer, he started saying he hated school, hated Mondays, and didn’t want to go. I tried to ignore it until we were leaving and he asked for a baseball hat to wear to school. “Does it cover all my hair?” he asked desperately. I felt so bad. Then I realized he might not be permitted to wear a hat in the classroom, so I asked him if I could talk to his teacher about it. He very reluctantly said I could, and I did. She was noncommittal about whether he coud keep the hat on, and simply said, “We will see how the day goes.” I worried all day long.

At pickup time, what do you know, out comes my kid sans hat. I tell him we are going straight to get his hair fixed, and he said, “Aww, why?! Do we have to? It isn’t even that bad!!” While that made me feel better, we went anyway. He did great, lost a bunch more hair, and powered through it. I think the best thing he got out of it was the advice of the hairdresser, which was, “Next time you see Mommy coming toward you with scissors, you run. Run as fast as you can!”

In the end, whether traumatic or not, I know this will be something he will never forget. I know this because I also found out that school pictures are in two weeks. So yes, he will remember. But maybe, just maybe, I am the only one who got a sliver from it.

Goodnight Sweetheart

Until recently my twins, Bubba and Toot, have spent almost every moment, waking and sleeping, together. As infants they slept in the same bassinet. Even when they started wiggling around they were still only a few feet apart so they could see each other. They even napped together until Bubba figured out how to tip over his pack and play and then free his sister.

Before they could talk we would hear them laughing and giggling together. When they started to form a few fledgling words we would eavesdrop on the monitor and hear them “talking” to each other.

“Toot… Toot!”

“No Bubba. Too early.”

I couldn’t get enough of listening to their private conversations.

Three years later they still shared a room until about a month ago. The peace treaty between Bubba and Toot had broken down and if they weren’t waging war on each other then they would wage a bedtime war on us, their weary parents.

One night out of exhaustion I waved the white flag and asked Toot if she wanted to sleep in her little sister, Juju Bee’s, room. To this she exclaimed “Yes!” and happily padded down the hall.

She hasn’t looked back.

I thought it would be a one night thing. Give them a little space from each other and then they would contentedly go back to being roommates. It didn’t work out that way. Every night Toot says goodnight to Bubba and heads down the hall, leaving the toddler bed next to him empty.

Bubba has taken consolation in our new pup, Duchess, dragging her warm little body under the covers and holding tightly to her until she stops struggling.

The result is that bedtime is easier. There are no longer two raucous hours before they pass out amid scattered books and toys on the floor, under the curtains or in a chair by the door. But it also means their relationship is changing.

One morning as we drove to school Toot told me she didn’t have a good sleep the night before. I suggested maybe she would sleep better if she went back to sleeping with Bubba. She quickly dismissed that idea. Bubba leaned over and looked at her from his car seat and said “I miss you… Toot!!…. I miss you SO MUCH.” It nearly broke my heart. Toot looked at him and matter of factly said “I love you SO MUCH. I sleep with Juju Bee and you sleep with Duchess, Bubba.”

I knew this day would come, but I didn’t think it would be so soon. Toot was ready for the change. She was ready for the independence. Bubba… not so much. He is slowly getting used being in that room by himself. He doesn’t ask Toot to come back anymore. Now they meet in the morning at the breakfast table like old friends. Bubba climbs into the chair across from Toot and waves “Hi Toot!”