Spectrummy Mummy

Asperger's, Allergies, and Adventures Abroad

Posts Tagged ‘Scissors

Pudding Was A Girl

with 6 comments

On Friday afternoon, I was trying to hold it together.  I was exhausted, and wanted to crawl into bed, but that wasn’t an option.  I’d kept Pudding home from school with a cold, but she was just getting more and more hyperactive.

I went to the bathroom, and when I returned to the kitchen, I found some hair that had been snipped.  Close by were some kitchen scissors, that had been placed out of reach, but nothing is out of reach to Pudding.  It was only a matter of time before she cut her hair again, and that was the time she chose.

At first I was relieved that such a small amount had been cut, but when I picked it up to out it into the rubbish bin, I found lots more.  I did not handle it well.

She’d cut the hair above her ear, and It looked like a one-sided mullet.  Together with the bits of hair that she’d cut close to the scalp the last time, it looked really bad.

The next day I’d calmed down considerably, but I still hated the hair.  The last time she’d cut it, we’d taken her to the hairdresser.  Spectrummy Daddy thought that if we established that hair could only be cut in a salon, she’d stop attempting it at home.  I’d demanded a pixie cut, but she refused and did her best to fix it up.  I didn’t like the “style” with Pudding’s contribution to the procedure still clearly visible.

So on Saturday, I resolved to take matters into my own hands.  My friend came over to help (make sure I didn’t go too far), and Pudding got a pixie cut.  It really looks adorable.  Her eyes seem even larger than before.  The bits that she cut blend in much better.  It has more texture, but is easier to manage.  I love it.

She hates it.

She felt how short I was cutting it at the back, and ran from the chair.  I had to finish trimming as she bounced all over the place.

But worse was to come when she looked in the mirror.

Pudding was a girl.” Over and over.  Followed by screaming and crying.

We went out into the garden to calm down, which I hoped would happen quicker without any mirrors around.  My friend took this photo, which at once shows how cute her new style is, and how unhappy she is about it.

While Pudding has always been attracted to long hair, I never realized she had made such an association between hair-length and femininity.  I thought she just enjoyed the tactile sensation as a sensory seeker.  Pudding’s hair came in slowly as a baby, and doesn’t grow quickly now.  I didn’t realize that she had this impression that girls must have long hair, and boys’ must be short.

She was still upset later when we went to an event with the consulate community.  I mentioned to another friend how upset she was, who told me she’d read recently that girls in kindergarten will already exclude other girls if they don’t have long hair!  Like Pudding needs another reason to be excluded- we can’t even get her onto kindergarten.

A couple of days later, and she seems to have settled into her hair.  At least, she can look into a mirror without tearing up.  We went to the shops to let her pick out new hair accessories, and everybody agrees how gorgeous she looks.  It is long enough for her to twirl still, but dries much more quickly (the noise of the hair -dryer is a problem for our girl).

So we thought our problem was a 5 year-old who is a little scissor-happy, but now I wonder at how her self-esteem may be affected.  There is a bigger problem that our culture so effectively constructs femininity that hair-length is such a serious matter at such a young age.  Then again, should I be pleased that a child on the autism spectrum is sensitive to such matters?

I don’t really have the answers to such questions.  I’m just trying to raise two children to be as happy and balanced as possible in a world that isn’t always very accommodating to those who are different.  If Pudding feels she needs long hair, then I’m not going to get in the way of that.  I just hope she doesn’t self-sabotage when she next feels the urge to cut.

And given how long it is going to take to grow her hair out, maybe she’ll learn there is much more to who she is than her hair, a lesson I once learned myself.  Long hair or short, she’ll always be somebody.

Written by Spectrummy Mummy

March 27, 2012 at 11:47 am

Cut

with 17 comments

You know how it is when your child is on the verge of a new skill- you work on it and work on it until it is fully grasped.  Before the school holidays, Pudding was close to being able to use scissors.  It is testimony to how difficult a task this is for her, that she has been developing this skill in OT for over two years.  We used the pretend scissors for cutting play dough, so she could really get some proprioceptive feedback.  I printed out lots of worksheets for her, and she threw herself into the task.

We were getting somewhere.  It is still very difficult to attend to a task for long, but we made progress.  Now she is cutting, not neatly, not as well as a typically developing child; but she knows where to place her fingers, how much pressure to apply, and how to open them back up without removing her grip.  She can hold the paper in one hand while her other completes all these things at once.  It really isn’t until you sit down and try to teach these skills that you realize just how many components are involved in such a “simple” task.

It is hard for those of us who don’t struggle learning new tasks to ever remember a time when we couldn’t do them too.  It is hard to constantly be aware of all the factors that are at play preventing our children from acquiring these skills.  So we as teachers, guides and parents need an unlimited supply of patience.  This is always my stumbling point.

Last week in one of our cutting sessions, I didn’t notice until she finished cutting that the “safety scissors” had cut through Pudding’s new dress as well.  It was an accident, neither of us had noticed what was happening at the time, and I let her know it was an accident, and I wasn’t cross.  This was a clear teaching moment, and I earnestly lectured her about how scissors are sharp and dangerous, and we only use them to cut paper or card.  Right.

What I failed to realize, is that the teaching moment was for me.  I needed to social story the correct use of scissors.  I needed to set down rules and guidelines for using them only when I was around.  I needed to make sure they were under lock and (hidden) key at all other times.  But I’m careless, and I’m impatient, and I’m lazy, and busy, and a hundred other things that meant I needed a bigger teaching moment.  I had that today.

Pudding was upstairs and awfully quiet as I cleaned up the kitchen.  I had that moment of dread- I knew I had to get upstairs to see what was going on, but I stalled because I didn’t want to see.  I saw Pudding, safety (my ass) scissors in one hand, and her beloved Kelly doll freshly scalped in the other.  I didn’t see the resolution of all that skill-building.  I didn’t see yet further pretend play skills.  I didn’t see a rite of passage that all little girls (yep, even me) go through with the intoxicating feel of scissors through hair.

I saw a pile of hair, some human, some doll.  I saw a doll that cost way too much in the first place that was ruined.  I saw all my carefully cultivated patience run out.  I saw this:

Of course, now she won’t play with her doll.  She wants me to fix it, or get some new hair.  I have to decide if Kelly is just going to learn to rock her new look, because we’ve all had a bad style, and it builds character.  Or if she’ll go to Doll Hospital for a new head, which isn’t covered by our health insurance.

One thing I have decided: the more she develops, the less I feel cut out to parent.  Oh well, at least I’m pretty decent at cutting Pudding’s hair, and I probably got that way from chopping at my own dolls when I was her age.

Written by Spectrummy Mummy

December 20, 2011 at 4:36 pm