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Tape, Paper, Scissors


Many a mother can produce a Band-Aid, a measuring tape, ibuprofen or a pair of collapsible scissors from her pocketbook. As her children’s (and husband’s) needs arise, these things collect as naturally as dings on cabinet doors. Similarly, the family home is gradually provisioned with the most humdrum of practical supplies. Index cards for homework projects. Stamps for the rare need to use snail mail. A stop watch. A tea strainer. Everyone shares a level of assurance they’ll find what they need.


Even when they grow up and come back to visit.


My 31-year-old son came by recently to install some motion lights for me. He knew where to find the step ladder and the Stanley ratchet tool he’d given me as a gift a few years before. When the work was done, he opened the fridge for a beer, sure he’d find an IPA he knows I don’t drink. He did.


On his way to work the other day, my thirty-eight-year-old son quickly stopped by to drop off some groceries for the Thanksgiving cooking we’d do together the next day. I heard him rummaging in my bathroom closet. He poked his head out. “Hey Mum, where’s the hair cutter? I forgot to trim my beard this morning, and it looks pretty ragged.” He was looking for the Wahl trimmer in the vinyl case held together by duct tape. The one I'd used to cut his hair a hundred times when he was a kid.


Today I pulled out of storage the flat plastic tub full of Christmas wrapping paper and bags, ribbons and tags. As always, I put it on the bed in the guest room, where I wrap gifts. My wrapping will be done far in advance. But on Christmas Eve, I know my sons will bustle in toting bags of unwrapped gifts and ask, “Tape, paper, scissors?”


To my delight, it’s no matter of chance they’ll know exactly where to look.




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