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Previous Challenge Entry (Level 3 – Advanced)
Topic: Illustrate the meaning of "Don't Cut off Your Nose to Spite Your Face" (without using the actual phrase or litera (02/14/08)

TITLE: Tangled Reflections
By LauraLee Shaw


The bathroom mirror reflected more than outward appearances that day. Nancy’s grim face was lined with frustration, and her eight-year-old daughter was shrieking with anger.

“Moooooom, You’re hurrrrrrrrting my head! STOP!” Splotchy patches of pink covered Melissa’s tear-stained face.

“I’ve told you a hundred times to comb your hair every day, Missy.” Nancy’s biting continued. “These are your consequences. When you don’t comb your hair out, it gets tangles. Then when you do try to comb your hair out, it hurts. It’s as simple as that.” She couldn’t help patterning the strokes of the hairbrush after the rhythm of her nagging tone.

“OUCH, not so hard, Mom. It hurrrts.”

Her shrill sobbing sent a twinge of pain through Nancy’s forehead. “Yeah, well it hurts me when you don’t obey me. Your room is a mess. The house is a mess. YOU’RE a mess.”

Having had enough of her mom’s condescending tone and painful grooming, Melissa shouted, “FINE, then give me the brush and I’LL fix it.” She yanked angrily away from her mother and grabbed the sweaty hairbrush from her.

“Go ahead, you do that!” Nancy slammed the bathroom door behind in a huff.

I’m so sick of the whining. Doesn’t she know how much that grates on my nerves? Nancy grabbed a wet towel off the floor and started up again. “Wrinkled wet towels get moldy, you know.”

As she stomped through Missy’s messy room, she stepped on a sharp Lego. “ow, Ow, OW!” She could still hear her daughter sobbing behind the closed door as she hopped on one foot through the hallway.

Why do I even bother? “NOBODY helps me around here, and I’m just so sick of all the mess. PLEASE STOP CRYING.”

“I hate it when you’re frustrated! Why can’t you just be patient?” Melissa lashed out at her mother loud enough for the whole neighborhood to hear.

Even through the walls, Melissa’s tantrum sent waves of frustration through Nancy’s body. She put her hands over her ears and proceeded to the kitchen. “Better start getting supper ready. Who even cares that I haven’t had a chance to clean up from lunch yet?” She slammed a pot down on the stove burner. “No ONE. That’s what I thought.”

She looked out her kitchen window and noticed a hummingbird outside as she washed her hands. Her stained-glass sun catcher reflected a convicting message: 'And the peace of God, which transcends all understanding, will guard your hearts and your minds in Christ Jesus. Philippians 4:7.'

All of a sudden, she noticed the house was totally silent. Oh, thank goodness, she’s finally quit crying. "I’m so sorry, Lord. Please help me to spread peace instead of anger.”

Nancy began to feel compassion for the small trauma that her daughter was experiencing and decided she would turn it into a teachable moment. After all, I’m the mother. I’m supposed to be the calm one. Before she could get to her, the wailing had begun again.

“Ma-maaaaaa. Help!”

Nancy ran the rest of the way. When she opened the bathroom door and looked at her daughter in the mirror, she could not believe her eyes. Although her heart was racing, she kept a tender tone. “Sweetheart, what did you do?”

Little Melissa was standing in a pile of jet-black hair. She sniffled and whimpered in between words. “I—was--sooo—mad—at—you. I wanted to make you mad, but now…” She looked in the mirror again and started to yowl. “Now look at iiiiiit. I look like a weeeirrrrrdoooo.”

Scooping Melissa up in her arms, she overcame the horror she felt at the sight of her beautiful daughter’s hair. It was ruined beyond help. Melissa’s school scissors lay on the vanity surrounded by locks of tangled curly hair.

God, please help me work through this tangled mess I’ve made.

“Sweet Missy, I am so sorry for my anger,” Nancy whispered into her daughter’s hair-filled ears. As she noticed a near bald spot right above her ear, she kissed it tenderly. “Next time we’re mad at each other, Mommy will just stop and say a prayer, ok?”

Melissa whimpered. “I’m sorry, too. She dug her shagged hair into her mama’s neck. “I feel so ugly, Mama. Can we stop and pray now?”

Yes, the bathroom mirror reflected more than outward appearances that day. Nancy’s grim face was lined with regret, and her eight-year-old daughter was sobbing with sorrow. But the glorious reflection of God’s grace shone brightly through it all as they prayed.

*Scripture reference taken from the NIV.

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This article has been read 926 times
Member Comments
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Tim Pickl02/21/08
Awesome article--masterful writing--perfect dialogue. I can feel the emotions of both Nancy and Missy--your article deeply moved me...to tears.
Kristen Hester02/21/08
Ouch! This hurts. When did you put a spy camera in my house? With two long-haired, tender-headed daughters, I can so relate to this scenario. Now, if mom (ME) could be more tender-HEARTED life would be better. You really put me there, in the middle of the scene. I was moved, and convicted. Excellent writing. Thank you for sharing this. (And I'm hiding all the scissors)
Joanne Sher 02/22/08
Will you please get out of my house?? ;) This is incredibly powerful. Your dialog, action, and emotions are JUST right. Thank you for a lesson I REALLY needed today - at this very moment. Excellent.
Peter Stone02/23/08
Nice touch to start and end the article with reflection in the mirror. Also good to see the mother apologising to her daughter, something which is very important yet many parents will not do that, as they think it makes them look weak. In fact, children respect parents who apologise when they make a mistake.
Jan Ackerson 02/24/08
Beautifully written--you could just feel the tension and frustration, and the grace shining through at the end.
Debbie Roome 02/25/08
Very good and so true to life. My 5 kids, big as they are have driven me nuts today - this was a good reminder to stop and take a moment to pray. Thank you.
Beth LaBuff 02/25/08
You definitely captured the stress of motherhood. Your descriptions of the hair-cutting incident were great, complete with school scissors. Your last "reflections" paragraph was wonderful and in light of this your title is perfect. Great work!
william price02/25/08
Very, very good, Dallas Girl. A very honest and well delivered message that was masterfully written. You keep getting better and better. Great characterization, I could sense the frustrations from both parties. I loved the title too. God bless.
Lyn Churchyard02/25/08
Oh yes! Great writing. I could hear both the mother and daughter speaking... okay, yelling sometimes. Very well done Laura, very well done indeed.
Joy Faire Stewart02/25/08
This is so realistic and the lesson is a great reminder. Excellent writing, one of my favorities this week.
Laury Hubrich 02/25/08
Wow, Laura! I think we've all been in situations much like this with our daughters. I could feel the pain of both. Truly great writing!
Patty Wysong02/25/08
Spying on people is NOT fair!! This one hit too close to home for comfort...bucket loads of tears have been shed at our house over tangled hair and an angry mom. There's great truth here, and not just for tangled hair. Super job!! I'll remember this next time I pick up a brush.
Catrina Bradley 02/25/08
Ooooooohhh, I'm goosebumpy all over! So real! VERY good piece.
LaNaye Perkins02/25/08
This was such a good story. You captured my attention from beginning to end. I hung on every word. Great writing.
Holly Westefeld02/25/08
I guess this is cutting off hair to spite the head. :-)
I also liked the reflection of the sun catcher. Your title was encompassed on so many levels.
Sheri Gordon02/25/08
I love this, 'cause it felt so real. I could see this happening--and the total regret and remorse from both parties. Very good writing--love the dialogue.
Debbie Wistrom02/26/08
Great title for a wonderfully touching piece, tears worked at my eyes as I read your tender ending. Thank you!
Sherry Castelluccio 02/27/08
Uh, yeah been there. Very excellent piece of real life. Going to pray now...great job, Laura.
Shirley McClay 02/27/08
I love this line... “Next time we’re mad at each other, Mommy will just stop and say a prayer, ok?”
A great reminder! Excellent story all the way through!
Sara Harricharan 02/27/08
ouch. The title hits this just right. I liked the ending though, I'm glad that they were able to come to the right conclusion-to stop and pray about it. The characters were good and I liked the bit with the humming bird! I had a feeling that Missy would cut her hair off, nice job! ^_^
Loren T. Lowery02/27/08
I really, really liked the way you told this story and I certainly liked the way your opening and closing sentence began and summed it up "The bathroom mirror reflected more than outward appearances that day." Wonderful job and Nancy and Missy are both great characters! BTW when I was much younger, I cut off my curly hair to spite my mom - so this brought back a few memories, too.
Karen Wilber02/27/08
I don't have to deal with hair--but I do have to deal with children and I could relate to this. This line got me --"After all, I’m the mother. I’m supposed to be the calm one." Thanks for the reminder about lifting up our daily frustrations in prayer. Excellent writing.
Verna Cole Mitchell 02/27/08
So many good things have been said about this wonderful story. I loved beginning and ending with the mirror. I loved the reality of the story, but most of all, I loved the message of grace. I hope the story is a winner. It is for me!
Dee Yoder 02/27/08
So many regrets come to us as moms when we lose our cool! Your story really brought out all the emotions in these kinds of conflicts. I love the way you brought the ending back around to grace...just perfect.
Joshua Janoski02/28/08
This reminded me of my sister and my niece. It seems like when my sister is in a bad mood, she gets my niece grumpy too. I'm very glad that this mother realized what was happening and turned to God for help. That is a good lesson for us all to learn, whether we are parents or not.

I got a little confused at first when it said that the mother stomped through Missy's messy room, but then I realized that Missy was probably a nickname for Melissa.

Great story. Thank you so much for sharing it.
Tessy Fuller03/04/08
I really enjoyed this and I found myself relating to the mom with her attitude of impatience instead of patience. This really hit that emotional mommy button. Well written. I thought you did an excellent job of writing exactly how the little girl was speaking. I could almost hear her whining and then later spluttering after she caught off her hair.