It was a simple enough question, “Mom, can you cut these for shorts for me?” Finely stood beside me, her hair irresistibly akimbo from going to bed immediately after her bath. I touched the raised, white polka dots and let the memories come. Three sets of legs walking around in these pants. I’d bought them on one of my many shopping excursions powered by a firm belief that kids should be encouraged to mix patterns. Soon enough they’ll have rules to follow, shapes to dress for, and other loads of shit that detract from just dressing to please yourself and suit your activities.
She waited patiently, perfectly accustomed to my tendency toward glazed-eye reflection.
“Cut them?” I asked softly.
“Uh-huh, I don’t have anymore shorts that are clean and I don’t need these as pants anymore.”
We stared at each other. She waited and then cracked a smile, cocked her said and said, “Think you can?”
I swallowed, storing the memories and the instinct to resist deep down. The sun was ricocheting off every surface as it poured in the eastern window. A lined sheet of paper with Yahtzee scores peeked out from beneath a table, chapter books spilled from a basket, and a hamper overflowed with t-shirts and pre-training bra half-tops.
“Tell you what, grab me a pair of scissors and walk them over to me carefully and I’ll do it.”
“Ok, mommy!” She chirped.
I watched the sunlight move across the room. The pants sat and I reminded myself that cutting the legs won’t erase the memories or change the way time marches.
“Here you go,” she said as she climbed on the arm of the chair and waited for her soon-to-be-pants.
I lined the scissors up to a string of white dots and began cutting. The metal sliced through the pink, but labored against the white. I pressed on and felt first one leg and then a second fall into my hand. I lifted the shorts and shook them out.
“Here you go,” I said cheerfully.
“Thanks, mom. You’re the best shorts maker ever.”
She took off for the kitchen and made herself breakfast. She brought her bowl back to eat beside me and that was that. She was wearing shorts, the pants were gone. I felt myself turn into the day, into this new time of getting things for themselves and allowing me to help.