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Authentic Aspie Moment: Playing with scissors

Before I start, yes, there is a 'Playing with scissors part 2'. And I'm not even counting when I cut off my own fringe as I think most small children have a go at that kind of thing...?

In this Authentic Aspie Moment, I was displaying two areas of thought which, when combined, have much the same effect as combining baking soda and vinegar. I was focusing very strongly on the expected outcome of my actions, as well as failing to understand the consequences of failure.

I expect many a grand disaster was based on the same combination. For me, it signalled an event which would be infamous amongst my friends and family for many years.

When I was a little girl, only about 5, we lived next door to another family with a daughter around the same age. Tracy and I had very little in common, but in the way of small children, we got along well enough to play and be counted as friends. I was more imaginative and daring, she was quieter and more sensible. She was also trusting.

One day, we were left unsupervised. I have no idea where the adults were, I wasn't thinking about them. Probably outside, trusting us to be nice children and play well.

Like lots of little girls, we liked to pretend play. Today, we would be hairdressers (I can feel your heart sinking from here).

Tracy would be the client, I would be the hairdresser. Now, there's no good going into these things unprepared. I don't remember this part of the story, but I have a horrible feeling I must have planned ahead, because we happened to have with us a real pair of scissors.

They were small and sharp and silver-coloured. They were proper ones. They made nice little snippy sounds as I cut the air with them. At this point it was only air, and not hair.

Tracy had wispy, cloud-like hair, thin and tender. If it was cut, every cut showed. What she wanted was long, flowing princess locks, thick and glamorous.

I had the idea that I could cut it to make it look better. There was no malice involved. The only negative feeling I had was the one that came when I stopped cutting things, because I did love using scissors.

In my mind, and no doubt in Tracy's mind, we were going to make her look beautiful. We would cut here and shape there and when we had finished, a transformation would have occurred. (This kind of logic is inherently girl-like and often continues into adult life).

So, fully trusting in my skills as a hairdresser, Tracy sat quietly in the little chair and let me loose with the scissors.

I remember moving about like a hairdresser while I cut. It was so great, I can't tell you. Something much, much better than cardboard, paper, ribbon or the hoover wire (that's not part 2 either).

Then, two things happened. We heard her dad coming back in and, at that moment, my unfailing belief in success dropped away and left me alone, faced with the reality of what had happened on Tracy's head.

Reader, I might as well have let a reindeer chew it off for me. She was patchy, her hair was lying on her shoulders, her dress and around us on the floor. Some places were so low on hair, it almost looked shaved. Others, she had tufts left. Some of it was slightly better, but then her dad had interrupted before I could finish those off as well.

Sudden and complete panic overwhelmed me. In that instant I saw things as they really were. I had ruined Tracy's hair, everyone would think I had done it on purpose, they'd all hate me and her dad would probably kill me.

I dropped the scissors and hared off upstairs. There was nowhere to hide, you understand. He was coming in the only available door and we lived next door. This was merely delaying the inevitable, but what else could I do?

I don't know whose room I went in, but I plainly remember shuffling as far under the bed as I could get. I lay there, able to see most of the floor, trying not to breathe loudly.

The bedroom door opened and in he came. I saw his feet come towards the bed. It would be okay, he'd never think of looking under here. I could escape when he had gone.

Of course, he was a grown man and I was a panicking 5 year old - he knew exactly where to look and had probably heard me cantering in. He bent down and his face appeared in the gap, his mouth set in a line, his eyes already resigned.

You'll be glad to know that Tracy's dad decided not to kill me. He accepted it all with very good grace; their whole family did. My mother's reaction was a slightly different matter and she carried the embarrassment longer than I did because I was prone to forget about it. I also thought, given the extra time of Tracy's dad not coming home, that I would have been able to make her hair beautiful after all.

So you see, what had I learned from this adventure? Very little, as it turns out. I truly did believe I could have fixed her hair, if I'd been left alone. I knew I had her best interests at heart. I also thought it was much better to play hairdressers for real, if you were going to, than to pretend.

I was remorseful for any upset but I don't think having such understanding neighbours really helped, either. If I had seen them wailing over the cut hair, I might not have moved onto Playing with scissors part 2.

Still, who can argue with the logic of an aspie five year old: I know what it's going to look like when it's finished; therefore, it will look like that when I'm finished. Any bumps along the way are caused by events outside my control.

So, all these years later, I'm sorry, Tracy. And your hair did grow back a lot better after I cut it all off, so we were right in the end. And Tracy's dad, it's been years and you still find it funny? I always think you'll have forgotten, but no matter how long between the times we see each other, I see the glint in your eye, the twitch of the mouth and I know you're going to bring it up!

Reader, do learn the lessons I didn't and do not play with scissors. Not unless you're absolutely sure you can make a success of it and have a really clear idea of the finished result. Then I'd say, why not? Have a go. What's the worst than can happen?


PS The events of this story are recreated as fiction in my book, Comprehensions: Getting into Trouble.

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