“I used my good scissors to cut your hair,” I told my husband. “You’re welcome.”
He had come back from the barbershop with no noticeable change to his bang area. You know, the entire reason he had gone for a haircut in the first place? The mess in the front was the part that was actually driving me crazy. (Not him, of course, me.) Too late in the day and with a weekend trip looming before us, going back to have it fixed wasn’t an option. So I tackled it myself, anxious over every tiny cut. Of course it had to be the hair at the front of his head. But back to the scissors.
“Your what?” he asked.
“My good scissors,” I repeated. “The nice ones.”
His puzzlement continued. “What’s the difference between those and any other scissors?”
“They’re my nice ones,” I said again. “The sharpest ones. The cleanest ones. No one gets to use them but me. No one knows they’re in this drawer.” I continued, stashing them away. “Wait, pretend you didn’t see that. There are no scissors in here.” It was at this point I realized I sounded like a crazy person.
Then I paused. I didn’t sound like a crazy person. I sounded like my mother.
There were good scissors in my house growing up. Fiskars, because they were the best, according to my mom. I always wondered how she knew that. Long, narrow silver blades topped with bright orange handles. They were actually identical to the other pair of scissors in our house, the "not nice" ones I guess, except their orange handles were of a slightly shinier and smoother plastic. It was hardly a noticeable difference. I had to double-check the handles anytime I grabbed a pair. They sat in an upper cabinet in the kitchen, the blades of the good scissors swaddled in a paper towel.
Growing up, no one was allowed to touch them but my mom. As I got older, I was sometimes given the privilege when I helped with the Christmas wrapping or for my own school projects. Sometimes I snuck them without permission to use myself (#rebel). I’m not sure that my brother, the youngest child, was ever allowed to touch them. My dad definitely wasn’t. I remember telling him, ever the firstborn, type-A, rule-follower, “You can’t use those! They’re the good scissors!” when my mom wasn’t in the room. “The what?” he would ask, just as confused as my own husband is now.
They were the good scissors, to be used for things that required the utmost precision and delicacy: slicing through wrapping paper, cutting fabric for costumes, snipping off the ends of ribbons for my pointe shoes. Using them to open a package sealed with tape—sticky, sticky tape—would have been the highest offense. Having them near a project that required paint or glue of any kind was unthinkable.
I get it now.
I mean, I thought my mother was crazy, too, whenever she was overprotective of a pair of scissors. But now? That whole saying about turning into your mother? Apparently I’m guilty as charged, scissors and all.
I see it in other ways. Some flattering, others not so much. As I sing a made-up lullabye, passed down from her (“rock-a-bye, peach-a-punkin pie, rock-a-bye a baby”). When I sit on the phone chatting with a friend, I flashback to the hours she spent talking to her own sisters while sitting on the worn brown tweed couch of my childhood. I see it in our night-owlish tendencies, the late hours we each keep, regardless of our responsibilities in the morning. It’s there in a quick flash of temper, or annoyance, gone as quickly as it came. We each have our own streak of perfectionism.
We’re not the same person, of course. I have more of a stubborn, independent side. Her tears come much more freely than mine; I can’t remember the last time I cried. I’m more decisive; she wants to discuss all the options. And even just three years in, my parenting has gone a different direction, based on the time and place we now live: an emphasis on natural and organic foods, a year of breastfeeding, over-thinking and over-researching the use of everything from sunscreen to coconut oil with Google at my fingertips.
Yet we each have a good pair of scissors.
The scissors flashback hit me suddenly. They were an ever-present part of my childhood, and yet I hadn’t thought of those orange-handled scissors for years. Thinking of them made me smile, silly as it may seem. Why would I remember something as ordinary and boring as a pair of scissors? Even if they were “the best” money could buy? Will my children flashback to the ordinary of their own childhoods? Our red Dutch oven, the worn cookie sheet, a blue hand towel? Or maybe it will be my own scissors, stashed and hidden away. Not orange but blue handles, the blades printed with flowers. Not Fiskars, but they caught my eye in the store because they were beautiful, unusual. Will they remember me telling them to use a different pair of scissors? Will I let them have the honor, some day way in the future, when they are far more capable and careful than they are now?
We’ll see. For now I plan to keep the good scissors all to myself.
Guest post written by Shannon Williams. Shannon is a former interior designer turned stay-at-home mom. She and her husband have always been overachievers, so they kicked off this whole parenthood thing with not one, but two babies (yup, twins). A third followed exactly two years and two days later. A complete bibliophile, Shannon also finds it impossible to say no to iced coffee, pedicures, or a good beer. You can find her scribbling her thoughts on motherhood and life at shannonscribbles.net and see the chaos for yourself on Instagram.