The smallest one was Monkeyline

By Mir
February 11, 2008

This weekend was an interesting one. Otto was off playing with cars in the woods (at an actual event, not just randomly taking some cars into the woods, because I guess that would be weird) and so the kids and I were on our own. I’ll be the first one to tell you that life is INFINITELY more interesting when Otto is around, but the occasional day without him is very familiar and cozy, too.

Saturday was a lazy day, and I do mean LAZY. It was gorgeous out and I found myself trying to cajole the kids into a walk. “C’mon! It’ll be fun! It’s a beautiful day!” But they were having none of that sunshine and fresh air crap. Well, they’d already played outside a while and they were having no MORE of it, I guess I should say. But they politely declined (“NOOOOO!”) and we ended up sprawled on the couch in a heap, watching old Mythbusters episodes and tickling each other.

You know, quality family time.

Now, after this serene day the time finally came to go to bed, and we headed upstairs. The children have the run of the entire second floor of the house, and so their habit is to, um… how shall I put this?… EXPLODE. At least back when their play area was part of the main living space, I could immediately SEE when things were beginning to go awry. But now that they’re upstairs and I’m working downstairs, often it’s not until bedtime that I discover they’ve dumped out everything they own, or whatever.

On Saturday night the horrors that awaited me looked very much like the carnage after a ticker tape parade. Once upon a time I got an incredible deal on paper (good) and stocked up on various colors for the kids (good) and when we moved into this house I decided they were old enough for me not to keep it on a high shelf anymore, but to put it in their art chest and let them help themselves (bad). At some point during the day they had “done art” and left everything all over the place.

Truly, I’d be hard-pressed to determine what drives me MORE crazy: The fact that they never put anything away (appalling), or the fact that they’re so wasteful (infuriating). If one of them needs a one-inch by one-inch square of paper, they’ll cut it out of a full sheet and then the rest of that sheet is tossed aside as garbage. DRIVES ME INSANE.

I mean, how many lectures about starving children in Darfur who would be happy to have even a single sheet of paper am I supposed to deliver in this lifetime?

Anyway, like I said, it’d been a great day, and then we went upstairs and I saw their big mess, and really, the art chest is a constant sore spot between us, so I pretty much just lost it. I announced that the art chest was Going Away For Good To Children Who Will Appreciate It and Chickadee immediately burst into tears and started volunteering to clean it up RIGHT NOW, MAMA, I PROMISE, but I’d already let them stay up late and I wanted them to go to sleep.

So after some negotiating it was determined that first thing in the morning they would not just clean up, but empty and clean out and organize the entire chest, prior to coming downstairs. If they set everything to rights before I had to look at them on Sunday morning, they could keep their art supplies.

It was kind of awesome, actually. I didn’t see them until 10 on Sunday! At which point I commenced with lecture number 529: Why Don’t You Just Keep It Tidy Instead Of It Always Coming To This?, also known as Why Do I Have To Blow Fire Out Of My Eyeballs To Get You To Clean Up?

And then all was peaceful and joyful across the land, and I not only made them scrambled eggs and toast for breakfast, they ate it all up. Slaving over a huge mess is hungry work, you know.

[Otto came home around lunchtime, and there was much rejoicing, right up until the point where he started telling me the story of how the race vehicle he’s been hoping to buy “someday” crashed, so as a joke he went and offered them $200 to take it off their hands as is, and they said they’d think about it, and I think there was more, but by that time I had my fingers in my ears and was singing loudly, so I don’t really know. Look, I think I’m a pretty tolerant wife. If Otto wants to spend the weekend in the woods fixing his friends’ race car, that’s cool. But when he starts talking about “crashed” and “buying a race car” in the same sentence, I just go to my happy place and ignore him. So far, it’s working.]

After playing outside for a while, Monkey came in and announced that he was ready for me to cut his hair. Darling Monkey is starting to look an awful lot like Barry Gibb during the disco years. So I had casually suggested a couple of weeks ago that if he wanted, it was probably about long enough for me to cut the longest part, in the back, and it would be more or less all the same length. When he came in and said he was ready for a trim I was surprised, though.

“Really, buddy? How much do you want me to cut off?”

“Oh, you know, just cut the back part off like you were saying,” he said, holding his hand up to the nape of his neck. “Then I can just keep growing it until it’s long enough for a ponytail, but it won’t be all over the place.”

I tried to contain my glee. He was indicating I could cut off about three inches, eradicating the last of his hair’s mullet tendencies.

I got out my scissors and cape and plunked him down in the kitchen and snipped away. Chickadee parked herself at the kitchen table and read aloud to us while I worked, and about half a chapter and ten minutes later we were done.

“Wow, Monkey. That looks really good. I like it!” declared Chickadee. She is stingy with the compliments, so this caused a huge grin to spread across his face. I removed the cape and shook it out while he gingerly felt around back.

He ran his fingers from scalp to tips, a couple of times. “Oh, cool! Look at this!” Monkey shook his head back and forth like a dog shaking off water. He stopped, tossed his head back, and his hair settled into a semblance of normalcy rather than remaining snarled all over his head (which is what would’ve happened with the longer hair).

“You totally look like a cool skaterboy now, dude,” I told him. He ran to the bathroom to check it out, and then came back and gave me the thumbs up.

And that’s when I realized that yes, from one angle, he looks like an aspiring skateboarder with his one-length shaggy mop. But then he smoothed it back and I realized that he totally looks like an adorable little girl with her hair cut into a bob.

Say, a little French girl.

Fortunately, I Googled Madeline and realized that she has BANGS, so that makes his haircut TOTALLY DIFFERENT, you know, because there are no bangs.

None of this made me feel any better when he came downstairs an hour later with his hair in two tiny pigtails. “Look what Chickie did!” he crowed.

I just hope his future boyfriend likes me.


  1. Megan

    My Male Child did the shaggy grow-it-out thing a year and a half ago (much older than Monkey) so I sympathize deeply. On the positive side he was old enough and bony enough that NO ONE was going to take him for a girl. On the less good side there was every possibility they would assume he was a drunk coming off a three-month bender. Of course… two days ago I picked him up from school to discover that his team had decided, for uniformity, to cut everyone’s hair to the length of the shortest-haired guy. Yup, bald as a cue-ball. Disconcerting thing is he looks, as his sisters reluctantly admit, kinda hot that way. Stop it Child!

  2. All Adither

    French girl vs. redneck…I’d definitely take the French girl.

  3. Otto

    I have to admit, I have randomly taken cars out into the woods. On my own and with others.

    It’s true.

    Some people play golf, some play bridge. Some slip a needle in their vein and some need to slip a car into gear and slide around on a gravel road.

    Guess who you married?


    PS – Happy ThreeQuarterVersary!

  4. balconygal

    “I just hope his future boyfriend likes me.” peeing my pants.

  5. Patricia

    I’m almost required to ask if Otto drives the Dragon — as a car guy he should know what road I’m talking about.

    But that has nothing to do with the point — whenever I read you, I end up nodding because so much is so familiar in my own life — I do the same thing when my husband or his friends chat in my general direction about cars. Seriously, I like being in 90% of the population who doesn’t care at all about brake pedal travel. I do however have this sick need to sound like I care or know what I’m talking about (you know to impress people I just met at these various car events) and then as they just begin to think I’m one of them, whip out my knitting and begin to chat about wool. Yup, confuses everyone.

    Finally, I’m sure Monkey’s boyfriend will love you — perhaps you’ll inspire him to go to beauty school?

  6. divrchk

    We need a photo. From the back, as usual, would be just fine.

  7. pam

    Thanks, once again, Mir, for making me blow coffee at the screen with that last sentence!!!

  8. Aimee


  9. Amy-Go

    *shudder* this is why I say boys don’t need hair. Despite the wailing and gnashing of teeth from my three baldies.

  10. janet

    my youngest son dressed up as a girl for halloween all through high school. he was gorgeous! on the other hand, he’s NOT the son with the boyfriend :-P

  11. Burgh Baby's Mom

    When I grow up, I want to be just like you, Mir. That was hysterical!

  12. Jennifer

    I’m vastly impressed that you cut his hair yourself and it didn’t look like it was gnawed by rabid beavers. Girly haircut or no, I think it’s quite an accomplishment.

    No one at my house will let me near their head with scissors. . . more’s the pity

  13. saucygrrl

    HA! Oh girl. This is NOTHING. My nephew likes to wear pink tutus and lip gloss and a little shimmery eye shadow for good measure. Not because he likes *girlie* things, but because he likes *pretty* things. I’ve already told his parents that I’m *thrilled* that I’ll finally have some to go shopping with.

  14. Bob

    at least you didn’t break his achy-breaky heart.

  15. D

    “how many lectures about starving children in Darfur who would be happy to have even a single sheet of paper am I supposed to deliver in this lifetime?”


  16. Jamie AZ

    I expect my boys will want to grow their hair out eventually, too. At 4 and 6.5, they haven’t figured out how to ask for that yet!

    Your last sentence was just too funny!

  17. jennielynn

    I have enormous sympathy for you on the car/woods/crashed race car issue. There was a time when my back yard was home to three VW bus carcasses. They found other homes eventually, but as Drama Queen creeps toward driving age, I notice my husband eyeing older bugs and getting that gleam in his eye.

  18. Becky

    Maybe it’s a universal thing that boys just need to do nowadays. My brother spent 9th-10th grade growing out his hair, which could do so at an amazing speed. He’s settled for a shorter look nowadays.

    All true sisters have to challenge their brothers’ masculinity. This is why I have a picture of my brother in a floral blue dress from when he’s five or so. I only did it because I love him. Really.

  19. Kristen

    I have to keep my older son’s (6) hair short (1/4″ to 1/2″ depending on the season) because he suffers from psoriasis on the scalp (as do I). If I let it grow longer, the psoriasis starts to spread. If I keep it short, it almost goes away all together. He’s not happy about getting haircuts, but he doesn’t enjoy the itchy psoriasis (which bleeds if he scratches it too much). My younger son (3.5) just likes having a “fuzzy head” and complains when it gets too long. My stepsons (9.5) don’t like having hair longer than an inch. We assume it has to do with their slight sensory disorders. It doesn’t look like I’m going to have to deal with long hair over here any time soon!

  20. ImpostorMom

    I was explaining to the woman who cut my hair on Friday that Boog’s hair is so cute. It’s gotten long in the back and it curls like my husbands but the stuff on top just won’t grown, it’s weird. She said “Oh, like a mullet.” I thought, ok so maybe it is time for him to have a little trim.

  21. elizabeth

    my husband goes to the bumpy roads in the woods. and buys the crashed, project things. I decided to look at it as an advantage. means he can fix stuff that I can’t. he and the teenager are in the middle of an engine rebuild that would have had me buying a “new” vehicle for the teenager. they seem to be having fun

    love that you cut Monkey’s hair. my kids wouldn’t let me anywhere near them with scissors. and really, it is probably a good thing.

  22. Heather

    Ah, very funny, Mir :) Thanks for the Monday morning smiles!

  23. barb

    Mir, my oldest son has his own play makeup, a pink doll stroller, 2 baby dolls named Pinky and Yellowy (want to guess what color their clothes are?), and all the bits and pieces to kit out a diaper bag for P and Y. Not only is he going to make someone a fabulous wife someday, he will also be an outstanding mother!

    Hubs HATES it when I joke about these things – or at least, he HOPES I am joking!

  24. Sara


  25. Karate Mom

    “None of this made me feel any better when he came downstairs an hour later with his hair in two tiny pigtails. “Look what Chickie did!” he crowed.”

    I almost died when I read that because my hubby is napping on the couch next to me and I had to try to laugh my guts out without making a sound…pretty tough!

  26. carson

    You only need to feel guilty if you’ve also taught him the words to “I Feel Pretty.” Not, um, that I would, um, know anyone who–er. . .(wanders away whistling)

  27. the elder

    *giggle snort*

    my cousin has done that. he stole my female cousin’s dress-up shoes and handbag.

    i was so proud…

    *wipes tear away*

  28. BOSSY

    Haircuts, oy. Bossy gives ’em, and they give her a lot of anxiety.

  29. kidzmama

    My Funny has convinced me for the second time to let him grow his hair long. He’s seven. His hair is thick, wavy, and grows out, not down. Last time he begged I let him grow it out all summer and cut it before school started. This time he wants it longer. It’s so unruly. Wish us luck.

  30. Amy@UWM

    Just keep him away from the big yellow hat with the ribbon around it and he’ll be fine.

  31. Fancypants Jenn

    Ahahaha! That’s great. My husband is so paranoid… anytime our son picks up anything girly he flips out. We catch our son in the darling princess’s room all the time playing with her dolls. He loves to cuddle them and whisper sweet nothings into their ears. However, then he slams them into the floor and then runs over them with his truck.

    Its almost endearing…

  32. David

    Ah, how well I remember the carefree days when I wore something close to a Beatles haircut (does that date me, or what!) and my sisters would comb and brush my hair, put it up in all sorts of clips, bands and whatnot then parade me in front of my mom. She would of course declare us all crazy and we’d giggle triumphantly and rush back to the bedroom to see what could be done to top the last outrageous ‘do.

    Cool beans on the possible racecar windfall too, right Mir? I mean, you ARE in the South, you know. ::Thumbs up to Otto::

  33. The Over-Thinker

    Yup. I just peed.
    You kill me.

  34. Heather C.

    I am not talking to you right now because it was about -40C this past week. The “fresh air” was freezing my nostrils shut.

  35. becky

    so glad i wasn’t drinking my dr. pepper when i read that last line. *snerk*

  36. Brigitte

    Don’t you know that when you’re playing crash-the-car-on-dirt-roads-in-the-woods, you’re supposed to LEAVE their crashed carcasses out there to rot (and to inspire future young car-crashing ruffians)?

  37. tori

    A lot of times I believe we are the same person living the same lives in alternate planes of time. We have the same hair issue with my son, and the art thing is a constant “thing” that we discuss…some of us more calmly than others, and it isn’t necessarily me who is the calm one.

  38. Vanessa Van Petten

    OMG you cut his hair yourself, thats talent. My mom would insist on cutting my brother’s hair and often made it totally uneven–my brother would run and hide when she got out her scissors, so its good he will let you!

  39. getsheila

    HAHAHAHAHAHAHA! I laughed out loud at the two tiny pigtails. :)

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