Making it all come out even

By Mir
November 27, 2007

Once upon a time, when I was in high school, I was hanging out at a friend’s house. Said friend had been growing out her bangs for a number of months, and they now reached to about her chin and she commented that she should really get a haircut and just get it all cut off to that length so it wouldn’t look weird anymore.

I don’t remember if I volunteered or if it was her idea, but we decided I’d cut her hair. She got a pair of scissors and… I cut it. I didn’t do too bad of a job, though that didn’t stop her mother from being absolutely furious with me when she got home.

I cut another friend’s hair about a year later, and that was my first experience with “it’s a little longer here, I’ll just even that up… now it’s longer here, I’ll just even THAT up….” Her hair ended up a bit shorter than we’d planned, but she was cool about it.

Thus began my less-than-illustrious foray into my side career as a hair stylist.

Many years have passed since those early, bumbling trims. I have since—somehow, I don’t know—become relatively adept at cutting hair. I cut everyone’s hair in the family (except my own) and haven’t had an “evening it up” hair catastrophe since my teens. Monkey will tell you (in great detail) about the time I supposedly lopped his ear off, but at last count HE STILL HAD BOTH EARS, so I shall leave it to you to determine whether or not the story has been embellished. (And no, that’s not the reason he decided to grow his hair out.)

What I’m beginning to realize is that the “evening it up” phenomenon happens in many other life areas. And while it’s nice that we can face those with relatively acceptable haircuts, it’s still annoying.

Take, for example, yesterday’s dinner. We have been AWASH in Thanksgiving leftovers for days. And it’s not that I don’t enjoy it—because LORD KNOWS I do—but I would like to be able to fit back into my pants sometime this year. As I am genetically incapable of throwing food away, the surest path towards making it disappear is TO EAT IT. Duh.

So. Yesterday. The kids are tiring of turkey. I got the BRILLIANT idea to make shepherd’s pie for dinner, as that would at least use up the remainder of the 25% fat mashed potatoes and remove the temptation to stick a straw in the container of leftover gravy. And yesterday was a busy day, too, what with it being my first WHOLE work day since the holiday, and I reasoned that shepherd’s pie when the taters were already made would be a snap, so it had the added bonus of being quick and easy.

This is because I forgot that I AM ME.

I am the only person on the planet who could decide to make shepherd’s pie to use up the leftover mashed potatoes and have an easy meal who would then:

1) Discover we are out of onions,
2) realize we have no corn,
3) beg my husband to please pick up said veggies on his way home,
4) find that the ground beef is still frozen solid, even in the fridge,
5) sautée onions for ten minutes, dump the block of frozen meat in, take out the container of potatoes and discover THERE ISN’T ENOUGH,
6) make more goddamned mashed potatoes.

At some point during this I also checked a recipe online for reference and discovered that if you make it with beef it should more properly be called cottage pie, and by the time I read that I was so annoyed by the whole process that I found this knowledge enraging. Not only was my simple dinner turning out to be a gigantic, mutiple-pan-using pain in the ass, but I DIDN’T EVEN KNOW WHAT I WAS COOKING.

Dinner was prepared with a great sense of foreboding.

Lucky for me (and the family!) it came out great. And while I still don’t know what I should call it, I felt strangely compelled to go buy one of these afterwards. Mmmmmm.

And then, this morning, I took out a new pair of shoes for Monkey. They’re slip-on suede moc type shoes, you know the kind. I bought them a while ago but found them in his closet when I was putting laundry away yesterday. Anyway, his sneakers are looking a little worse for wear, so I figured I could extend their life a bit by giving him another pair of school shoes. (Plus? If you have smallish feet in your house you perhaps know that having a couple of pairs of shoes is a good idea, because otherwise those small shoes have a tendency to STINK LARGE after being worn every single day.)

He put on his new shoes and was quite pleased with them. And then it started.

“I want new shoes,” Chickadee said, all hopefulness.

“You HAVE shoes,” I said.

“No, I only have my sneakers.”

“You have that pair of slides in there,” I pointed out. (Chickadee used to get hand-me-downs from a friend of ours, and she recently pulled a pair of glittery silver Skechers slides out of the “Emily bag” and put them with the other shoes by the door.)

“My heels get cold in those,” she complained.

And I realized that yes, it’s true; I used to have both kids alternate between sandals and sneakers, and then it got too cold for sandals, and then I got lazy and just had them wear their sneakers, and she’s really only worn those slides a couple of times because probably her heels DO get cold in them, and I should probably buy her another pair of shoes as well.

So I spent some time this morning finding her a similar pair of shoes. Okay, that’s fine. Then I got an email from the eBay seller who’s shipping us some pants I bought for Chickadee, and I realized I still haven’t bought pants for Monkey, and so then I went to go look for those….

I don’t know that I can make it all come out even, but I certainly intend to drive myself insane in the process.


  1. Flea

    Striped, floral or patterned knee socks are great complements to slides, and they keep the heels warm. My daughter has a pair of the striped ones and calls them her Dr. Seuss socks.

    I’m not allowed to get anywhere near hair with scissors. Fabric, yes. Hair, no. Lucky you. :)

  2. BethR

    My lazy cottage/shepherd’s pie secret is that it works just as well when it’s not a pie, i.e. when the mix is served over mashed potatoes instead of under it, skipping the oven step. In a real rush, even baked (or microwaved for ultimate laziness) will do.

  3. Megan

    I watched my sister do the evening up thing at Christmas one year. They forgo the wrapping at their house and just have everything sort of strewn over the stockings in one dazzling display. However, she had planned the “even” gifts based on monetary value rather than quantity (I know! Logic+kids – very naive) and her son had asked for nothing but cold hard cash that year. Cash is nice, of course, but even if you fan the bills out and fluff the edges it still doesn’t add up to the bulk of real and for true gifts. So some last minute rearranging of items was done and next morning there was no howl of outrage – just a puzzled small boy holding up a movie and saying “Casablanca? What kinda movie is Casablanca?”

  4. Katie

    Good luck! I just now say “Life isn’t fair.” Cause if I tried to even things out, we’d be broke.

  5. Aimee

    LOL! Well, that seems like a good plan…

  6. saucygrrl

    I do have to admit to functioning EXACTLY like that for dinner. It’s terrible… ha!

  7. kidzmama

    The evening up thing extends to pouring drinks at our house. Just yesterday our 7 year old son was pouring milk for himself when his 9 year old sister wanted some too. So he was nice enough to pour some for her. Then added more to his cup. Milk. Whoda thunk?

  8. Karen

    My parents never did the evening up thing. We just got the lecture that each child got what they needed when they needed it and we had to trust that our parents loved us all equally. On the other hand, my grandparents were the type who bought us all presents whenever one of us had a birthday. Yep, they rocked. LOL.

  9. D

    Glad that your dinners have successes – I think I would’ve been going “that’s it, you’ve a choice – take out or pizza – here are the numbers.” And poured myself a drink, though I don’t drink. :-)

  10. Tootsie

    I’ve been cutting my daughter’s bangs for a while now. My sister in law is a fabulous hairdresser and on our last trip out to visit them, I borrowed her professional scissors to cut my daughter’s bangs. Wow. What a difference a really sharp pair of scissors makes! And my SIL was so impressed she asked me to trim HER hair! I figure if she’s got that much confidence in me then I can’t be half bad at it. LOL!

    My grandparents also were the type to have a gift for the Un-birthday child. I’m so glad my own parents didn’t carry on this tradition. I don’t need my kids having these kind of expectations.

  11. Jenn

    My dad is famous for evening out brownies. Because, you know, they simply must be cut perfectly perpendicular to the sides of the pan. And he willingly makes the sacrifice to eat those trimmings since they would otherwise go to waste. Of course, perfection is never achieved, thus requiring more evening and more eating. It’s a habit I’ve gladly inherited.

  12. Draftnik

    I’m outa control on the evening up. Packages must be similarly priced, sized, and wanted for all three kids. AND be unique to all 3 kids! Spreadsheets and a growing lineup of gifts before wrapping helps keep it all straight.

    Ah, can’t believe I just confessed to that! It’s the first step, eh?

  13. Heather

    I feel like I need a cookie, or a muffin, or maybe a pancake.

  14. Michele

    My husband gets very angry at fast food places. We have two boys, therefore order two kids’ meals, and therefore get two toys. However, it sends my husband batsh*t crazy when they give us two DIFFERENT toys instead of the same. “Aren’t there parents back there? Don’t they know what they’re DOING TO US?”

    Yeah. We have to do a lot of evening out over here too.

  15. ChristieNY

    Wow Mir, you summed it up perfectly! I have two small children, two older brothers, two younger sisters, I’m forever evening up the sides until I feel like Im going to pull my hair out! We try though, so take some peace in that sweetie, we may never win but we’re forever trying! :)

  16. jennielynn

    Golly, Heather, I need a cookie and a cocktail! AND they must be the same size. Ginormous.

  17. Paula

    Don’t even let me near the scissors, unless it’s for cutting gift wrap. Once I was cramming for an exam and got irritated by my bangs, so I grabbed the nearest craft shears and snipped them off. They were crooked, so I “evened them up”. Still crooked, more evening. I was left with a half-inch of hair rimming my forehead, like Julius Caesar. And I still got a C on the exam.

  18. Niki

    The “even” thing is always hard – my 2 kids are 5 years apart, and heaven forbid we not have the same number of presents. Add to that an exchange student this year, and we have a recipe for bankruptcy!

    Here’s a hint on the still-frozen hamburger that I use every time (one of the few cooking tricks my hubby knows) – put the block of frozen burger into a frying pan full of water, turn it on high, and walk away for a few minutes. Come back, flip it over, scrape off the brown edges, repeat. Takes maybe 10 minutes. When it’s all done, pour into a colander, rinse off the burger and the pan, and voila – browned, non-greasy meat, ready to put into any concoction you desire.

  19. All Adither

    Oddly, I’m better at cutting my own hair than other people’s. Maybe because my arms are four feet long. Each.

  20. Heidi

    I’ll skip the ginormous cookie and go directly to the ginormous cocktail.

  21. Flea

    Thanks to Brigitte for the links! I just ordered WWND for my boy, and bacon shaped bandages for the other boy. I hope they don’t smell like bacon – his cat would never leave him alone. Hmm.

  22. Linda

    Geez, when we were kids my mom gave us M&Ms and we would actually count them to make sure one of us didn’t get one more than the other. We actually believed that the amount of M&Ms we got was a direct reflection of how much mom loved us. Kids just think that way.

  23. carrien

    Oh my dear. Next tiem just cut up all the turkey you have left, add whatever vegetables and gravy you have left as well, stir it together and stick it on the bottom of a pie dish, or baking pan, or whatever the hell you’ve got. Then smooth the potatoes you have left over the top. If you run out of potatoes, disguise this fact by sprinkling shredded cheese in the cracks. Screw the missing corn. I usually only make “Shepherd’s pie” when I have turkey leftovers, ’cause that’s my favorite kind.
    Of course, now that you’ve put in all that work you may find find this little tidbit enraging as well but NEXT TIME… take my advice and be lazy about it.:)

    Good luck with the pants, I still haven’t figured that out, but for me it seems to be making sweaters. Can’t make the really cute and fast baby one because then I would have made 3 for the baby, and only two for the bigger kids, whose sweaters take months to finish because they are bigger. (This logic is wasted on a 3 year old.)

  24. Katherine

    Luckily my boys don’t get too bothered by inequality in clothes – really lucky! I guess it sort of evens out that the older one gets more new clothes, but the younger one has more clothes (a few new and lots of hand-me-downs).

    Now Christmas. OMG. Trying to even up gifts by cost, value, number, and WOW value. It drives me insane!

  25. Barb

    I realize this is random, but I have to tell you how much I love the nicknames you have for your kids; they clearly convey your love and affection. Sweet.

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