Monday, July 26, 2010

Shiny, Happy Baby Curls

Mia and Lauren sat in my parents' jacuzzi bathtub, washing the pool water and sunscreen from our afternoon.  While the toddler happily dumped cups full of water all over the place, I soaped up her sister's hair, wondering if the ratty tangles meant it was finally time for her first haircut. 

Four and a half years old, and her hair has never been cut.  The babyish curls at the ends are still sweetly tender and fine, while the long, straight hair above tells tales of a growing girl. 

Conditioner, I decided.  All we needed was a little conditioner, and those baby-fine curls would last a while longer.  Calling out to my dad, I begged for some 'cream rinse.'  That term from the olden days (ha), when Farrah Fawcett's feathers ruled the styles -- I guess we all cling to the past in some ways.  Me to my daughter's baby curls, and my parents to the fancy name of a simple hair product.

"Now Mia," my dad whispered, "This is your Nana's special cream special that she only lets the very most special people use it."  Mia's eyes widened as her smile cracked open.  She giggled with excitement, stealing a glance at her occupied sister: there would be no sharing this sea-green conditioner -- it was only for the most special little girl.

"Can I smell it?" she wondered.  Her loyal servant -- Grandpa -- flipped the cap open and waved it under her nose.  She giggled again, ready for the magic to begin.

"Do you know what this does?" my dad continued.  "It makes your hair so soft and'll shine even in the dark.  Your hair will shine like the stars!"

By then, Mia's excitement was ready to manifest itself in huge splashing bathtub waves, but we calmed her down enough to rub the conditioner into her wet hair.  She swam around a few more times before I rinsed her off, and sure enough, those rough and tangled edges of hair were silken and slippery once more. 

Wrapped in towels and ushered into the bedroom, my sweet-smelling girls tried to jump on the bed while I tried to wrangle them into their clothes.  Soon, they found dolls or tiny boxes full of treasure (or, sewing supplies to us mortals) and played quietly. 

I didn't want to go home.  There's some comfort about sitting quietly in the house I grew up in, listening to the pretending voices of my daughters at play.  I walked past Mia at her sewing-treasure, and began brushing her wet hair.  Happily, I noticed the ease with which I could comb through her hair, all the way to its ends.  I began playing with it, letting it wrap and fall through my fingers: wet strands of silky weight.

Inspiration hit.  I gathered pieces and began french braiding Mia's wet hair.  (Or, as close to french braiding as I can get...which isn't very close.)  Over and under and scoop and repeat.  Soon her hair was a mess of braid, but cute in its own way.  She ran off to the mirror, simpering and fawning around with her newly fabulous coiffure.

"You know, Mia," I said. "If you go to bed with your wet hair in a braid, you'll wake up with curly hair!"

She was instantly sold.  And I thought, If she has forced curls from a braid, maybe I won't be so attached to those tiny baby curls on the ends of her hair...

At home, I sang and rocked little Lauren into her bed while Mia was supposed to be laying quietly in her own dark room.  Tiptoeing away from one room, I peeked into the other: Mia was racing back to her bed from the trail of light seeping out the closet door.  She buried her face between her pillow and blankie, baring her braid to the sky. 

"What are you doing, baby?" I whispered.  She wiggled her body and made no move towards speaking to me.  Worried about her dramatic turn, I had to figure out the problem. "What's wrong, sweetie?"

Mia was silent for a minute.  Then in the darkness, muffled by her pillow, she spoke: "Is it shining, mama?"

I was stumped.  What...?  Was what shining? 

I stroked her damp braid, feeling the bumps and folds in the dark, making my way down to the already dry ends.  Her tiny wisps of baby-curl wrapped around my fingers, and I remembered. 

"Oh, sweetie...Grandpa was just pretending about the conditioner.  Your will be shiny in the sunlight!  But in the dark..."  I bent down to kiss her exposed cheek, to sniff her hairline, to whisper condolences if she was heartbroken. 

But she only laughed.  "That silly Grandpa!  He was using his imagination!"

Relieved, I smothered her cheek and neck with kisses, holding tight to her baby-curls all the time.  "I love you more than all the shining stars in the sky, my sugar-love." 

Mia fell asleep quickly, possibly dreaming about glow-in-the-dark hair and shooting stars.

And I walked into the living room, wondering how I'd ever, ever manage to give her a haircut.  She'll sooner grow shining hair than I'll want to cut it off.


  1. Oh this is such a sweet post! We have one with curls and I'm not sure I'll ever be able to cut it either!!

  2. I love how you write so I can just feel your emotions.
    {I cried during G and E's first hair cuts. It's like a haircut rockets them into looking older ... and not so little or baby anymore.}

  3. I love how you've told this! And I haven't cut my five year old's hair yet either. Those baby wisps...

  4. I love that your dad used his imagination :) How lucky are your girls to have a grandpa who is such fun!
    And the sweetness...

  5. How sweet! And what a treasure of a grandpa! I love the way he plays with her, but I'm glad she wasn't disappointed when she realized it was just a pretend nighttime shine.

    As for the haircut dilemma, I don't think you should rush into anything. There will come a time when Mia's ready to move onto a new style on her own and then her excitement will be contagious. Until then, she's got beautiful hair--and conditioner and braids will keep the tangles at bay.

    Lovely post, Sarah!

  6. What a lovely, lovely story. An amazing memory for you and your girls. Thank your for sharing! I delighted in it after having a particularly difficult evening with my boys.

  7. Oh..............I remember "cream rinse"! My mom used to call it. What a sweet, sweet story. I love your writing.

  8. Oh, so precious! You are such an amazing story teller. I think you should compose a book of all these sweet little stories. I'll be the first to buy it!

  9. sounds like such a beautiful family moment. truly inspiring and lovely :) thanks

  10. So sweet. Who doesn't want hair that shines like the stars?

    My big girls have both decided they want short hair, but my baby still has her baby curls at the bottom. Even though my friend tells me she's got a mullet going on, I just can't bring myself to cut it.


Hmm...And how did that make you FEEL?