Self-Bang-Cutting Seen as Gateway to Poetry

WESTLAND, Mass. In this high-achieving suburb of Boston parents take care to note any sign of precocious intellectual abilities in their young ones, but Marci Everbeck wasn’t prepared for what she saw when her three-year-old daughter Caitlin rounded the corner of her dining room and interrupted her book group last week.


“Mommy look,” the toddler said. “I cut my bangs all by myself. Which do you like better, the short side or the long side?”

The other women present laughed, except one: Evelyn Flam, a child psychologist, who waited until she was on the front steps watching the others leave before saying something to the girl’s mother.

“You really ought to have Caitlin checked,” she said in a hushed tone to assure her hostess that the others wouldn’t hear.

“Checked? What for?” Everbeck asked politely but with an anxious tone.

Getting in the mood for a confessional poem!

“Poetry,” Flam says, her brow furrowed with professional concern. “Self-cutting bangs is a telltale sign that a girl may grow up to be a poetess.”

“I didn’t know that,” Everbeck said evenly, but with a trace of defensiveness. “Thanks, I appreciate it.”

With an M.B.A. and a career in banking behind her, Everbeck isn’t one who becomes alarmed easily, but the next day found her and Caitlin at the office of their pediatrician, Dr. Mark Russell.

“What do we have here?” the doctor asked pleasantly.

“Repeat after me: I think that I shall never see . . .”

“She got into my sewing basket while I was busy with book group,” Everbeck said with a trace of guilt in her voice.

“May not be much of anything. If we catch it in time,” Russell said, then paused as he examined the girl’s throat with a tongue depressor, “the disease may advance no further than the greeting card stage.”

“You mean, like Hallmark?”

“Yes,” Russell says as he thumps the girl on the back, then turns her around. “Say ‘June.’”


“Now ‘moon.’”


“She’s definitely got something,” Russell said as he took out a prescription pad. “I don’t think its the more serious confessional strain.”

“How bad is that?”

“You write self-absorbed poems about how much you hate your father,” Russell said with clinical detachment, then turned to the girl and asked ‘You don’t hate your father, do you?’”

“I love Daddy!” Caitlin said emphatically.

“Good, good,” Russell said to the girl, then wrote a prescription and said to her mother, “Have her take one of these twice a day for two weeks. If she starts writing her name without capital letters, give me a call.”

Available in Kindle format on as part of the collection “poetry is kind of important.”

Share this Post:

One thought on “Self-Bang-Cutting Seen as Gateway to Poetry”

Comments are closed.