We were sitting together in the fading afternoon sun, the table before us festooned with bits of blue Play-Doh and imaginatively colored turkeys. The braids I’d set in her hair during the daily sprint to get out the door were unravelling, the spotted ribbons and ties tucked in my pocket after having been torn free during a living room dance session. Her bangs were tickling her eyelashes, swaying and sticking with each blink. Her cheeks, less full each day, bore little sprays of color, part marker, part concentration, as she held a pair of scissors in one hand and a sheet of construction paper in the other.

I held Fin in my lap as I waited, this being our first time with a project involving scissors, I was nervous. Her teacher had told me it was a skill they were working on in the classroom and was the one area where Briar had gotten frustrated. I wanted to help and I knew that meant not helping, such is the often excruciating act of parenting. The paper shook, her fingers trembling ever so slightly. I watched the tips of the scissors waver not cutting and looked at her face, hoping she was ok. Her mouth was open, her jaw twisting back and forth as she moved her fingers, Fin’s feet swung gently as I made silent nods of encouragement.

“You see, mom? You just do a squeeze, squeeze. Right like that, just squeeze, squeeze,” and we watched as the metal sliced through the grainy paper. She kept cutting, her fingers tiny and pink within the great silver “o”‘s of the scissors, paper began falling on the table as the rectangle became a series of different shapes. I felt the familiar splintering in my heart as I watched my sweet Briar continue her amazing ascent into the person she will be, leaving behind this precious shape of my questing four year old.