Last summer, Charlotte went on a hair-cutting binge.
She started with her own hair, of course. She grabbed a chunk of her bangs and her craft scissors and went to work. When she was done, her bangs were all different lengths and it took me the better part of an hour to smooth out the edges.
“Why did you cut your hair?“ I asked her forlornly while I trimmed a bit here and there.
“Because I wanted to look like Caroline,“ she said. “Now when Halloween comes, nobody will be able to recognize me! They’ll see my blonde hair and my bangs and my pigtails and they’ll think I’m Caroline, not Charlotte!“
If only the whole of southern California were as interested in French picture books as Charlotte!
After she cut her own hair, I had a stern talk with Charlotte about not using her scissors to perform hair-cuts and that was that.
A week later, she cut Evelyn’s hair. Of course, unlike Charlotte’s self-hair-cut, Evelyn’s trim could not be easily rectified. No more little ponytail, no more hair clips. I ran around the yard bawling like a madwoman as I picked up strands of her baby hair while my three girls stood by the window and watched me in what can only be described as utter confusion.
The next morning, I confiscated Charlotte’s craft scissors. Then we made an appointment to have Evelyn’s hair fixed at a local kids’ salon. I made Charlotte break open her piggy bank and use the money she had earned picking up the neighbor’s newspapers during their vacation to pay for Evelyn’s hair-cut. The poor hairdresser gave Evelyn a pixie cut while Charlotte cried about losing her money and her scissors, Evelyn cried about having a stranger so close to her, and Genevieve cried about not being the one in my lap. (I tipped her well, the poor thing.)
Three days after that, Charlotte cut Genevieve’s bangs.
I was absolutely dumbfounded. Where had she gotten the scissors from?! I hunted through the whole house to no avail. Finally, I resorted to asking Evelyn (then 20 months) and Genevieve (then 15 months) for direction. Both were still pre-verbal, but they quickly lead me to Charlotte’s avocado tree in the yard. The avocado tree had a small hollow. And in the hollow was a pair of nail scissors. After a long talk with Charlotte about scissors and bodily autonomy, I confiscated the nail scissors too.
Time passed, of course, and after a month or two I (mostly) forgot about the whole episode. Charlotte earned her scissors back and I provided her with ample quantities of cheap bargain bin yarn to chop instead of hair.
Unfortunately, it took over six months for Evelyn and Genevieve’s hair to recover.
Although Evelyn had the more drastic hair-cut, Genevieve got the shorter end of the stick in the long run because her hair-cut had involved her bangs. Charlotte had taken a small sweep of hair right in the middle of her forehead and cut it all the way down to the skin. As a result, there was nothing we could do to fix it except wait - and within a few months, the only way to mask it was to keep the rest of her bangs long so that nobody could tell that a small chunk was oddly hacked.
When we signed adoptive papers last fall, the adoption worker said to us triumphantly, “And now you can cut her hair whenever you want!“ This is a big deal for a lot of foster parents because as long as birth parents’ rights are intact or the possibility of an appeal lingers, foster parents are strongly discouraged from cutting or styling foster children’s hair. But it was not a big deal for us because we were still waiting for that small bit of hair in the middle of her forehead to grow long enough for us to clip it back or trim all Genevieve’s bangs.
Shortly before the winter holidays, her hair was finally long enough for me to clip it back. On Christmas Eve, for the very first time, I proudly and excitedly combed her hair into two pigtails and clipped the short bit of her bangs to the side.
As soon as the other children saw her, they said she looked like Boo from Monsters, Inc.
After that, Genevieve always wanted pigtails in her hair. And small children have indeed been coming out of the woodwork ever since to tell me how much she looks like Boo.
So that is the story of Genevieve’s nickname and how what once seemed like something I might have to disown Charlotte over turned into about the cutest damned thing in the world.