My six-year-old does a mean job with the safety scissors, but I’ve seen her eyes light up when I bring the real ones out for whatever task I have set before me. Within the past year she has gotten so much better at following the lines, at cutting and pasting like a little champ, but I can tell she wants more. When her little face scrunches up in thought I can see the glimmer of what she will one day be, and I can’t help but smile.
But I’m not giving her the real scissors. Not yet.
When I was her age I remember barely coloring in the lines, and not because I couldn’t, but because I was a renegade even then. I didn’t want to be the kid who ate paste, but neither was I the one who would voluntarily clap erasers. But Madeline, she aims to please. I can see her being the line leader, the one who smiles at the door and says “welcome” to each and every 1st grader who enters. After all, she cuts neatly with those safety scissors. Sky’s the limit.
We have three pairs of safety scissors, and each of the handles is a different color. Madeline prefers the yellow handles, actually. I think there’s something about the brightness of the color that attracts her time and again, or maybe it’s the contrast they make against her skin. She’s all about contrasts, that one. Try to give her the red handled scissors and she’ll say “please” and point to their yellow neighbor instead. And I always give in.
Eventually I will give her the real scissors, but I hope that day is a long way off, because giving her the real scissors will mean that she’s ready to use them, that she doesn’t need me watching over her shoulder to make sure everything is okay. Don’t get me wrong. I will definitely still look over her shoulder, because I’m her father, but I won’t doubt her ability to use them efficiently, just as I don’t doubt her now with the safety scissors. As a father, though, I will never tire of hearing her ask me to pass her the safety scissors, that symbol of both youth and the exploration for more.
And I will always love watching her cut those straight lines.