“Lydia! Come here, please!” I called up the stairs, calmly trying to defuse what sounded like a fight that was starting to develop in the living room. There was a lot of nervous energy in the air since their Dad was getting them ready to go to reading lessons this morning instead of their mother who was out of town. I took a deep breath as the little girl slid through the door to join me.

“I’m going to fix your hair, okay?” I asked, and as she nodded I splashed a handful of water onto her head. It was a bold move, but it seemed to have worked to distract her from her punchiness for a moment. She giggled as I rubbed a towel in her face and pushed the hair out of her eyes with my fingers. “Alright,” I said finally. “I’ll pull your hair back into a pigtail in just a second. I need to finish my hair first.”

She waited patiently as I picked up my hairbrush and inspected my wet mop of hair.

“So, Daddy’s hair is actually very easy to fix,” I told her, gesturing with the brush. “All I have to do is comb this side this direction,” I quickly brushed a few times, “And then this side this direction,” a few more brushes. “And then all I need is a little bit of work here in the back and this last thing here in the front quick, and Ta-DA!” I flipped my brush in the air and gave the girl a roguish grin, “Just like that, Daddy is a handsome young man!”

But as I turned to look at her I realized her nose was curled up into a tight fist and she was looking at me sideways in a funny sort of way.

“What?” I asked.

“Well,” she wobbled her head back and forth and said, “not very handsome.”

“Oh… ouch.” I frowned at myself in the mirror for a second and then back down at her.

“Lydia!” came a voice from the living room. “Lydia, that’s not true!” Clara was rushing down the stairs to defend my honor.

“Daddy IS¬†handsome when he combs his hair,” she said. Turning the corner she saw me and quickly added, “sometimes.”

I smiled uncertainly at their reflections in the mirror.

“He’s just not a handsome young man. He’s still old even with his hair combed. It’s possible for someone to comb their hair and make themselves handsome, but you can’t comb your hair and make yourself younger.” She said this so matter-of-factly, leaning over her sister and motioning with her arms, the wise scholar of logic teaching her pupil the ways of the world.

Lydia stared lovingly up at her sister and nodded agreement.

I raised the hairbrush and pointed at their reflection and my mouth opened to speak, but nothing came out. I turned to face them and opened my mouth again. They blinked at me.

“Alright, not enough time to argue. Stand right here.” I quickly ran my brush through Lydia’s hair a few times and slapped a rubber band into it. “There’s no time to make your hair handsome, but maybe I can get you out of the door while you are still young enough to make up for it.”