When I first saw my daughter she was loud and bald. We stared at her bright red angel-kissed nose and her rosebud lips and her tiny earlobes and her wrinkly, hairless noggin. I wasn’t certain but secretly considered that her toothless gums seemed to magnify the lack of tresses. They seemed a sure pair like two stooges in search of something they had misplaced. I didn’t know in those first foggy days that, with enough time, my daughter’s dome would become an invitation to delight in this very wild, gangly girl.
There was wacky hair day in preschool. There were long nights holding back sick-crusted locks. There was the first major cut when 10 inches fell to the floor. There were years of washing out peanut butter and fighting over the quantity of hair “flare” that would be permitted each day. There were – and still are – bits of that flare littered about the stairs and carpet and bedding and bathtub. There was the Cinderella play and the Christmas concert which required a curling iron. There have been pony tails and pig tails and wind-blown knots and many, many baths.
And, then, after all of that, there was graduation from kindergarten. She danced into my room as we readied ourselves, offering the same brush as always and a single neon rubber band. She sat below me on the bed frame while I perched above, the duvet a swirling eddy beneath me. According to her instructions, I carefully began to weave a single low braid. Her long silk slipped soundlessly through my hands, barely wrapping around itself its weight so fine.
Perhaps it was the unusually simple request or her uncharacteristic stillness or the fact she seemed to carry a new poise that called out as different this moment. My perch grew as I saw not just her below me but generations of mothers before me tending to this ancient act, daughters raised by the touch of those that came first, an enduring ritual for its intimate caress of the one who will one day take our place. It mattered in that moment to be as gentle as ever I could, this girl’s livelihood resting in my hands as her hair.
I wondered as I considered this lovely burden if I would have the privilege of brushing my daughter’s hair as she graduates from grade school or college. I wondered if I would be able to weave our stories as tightly as her braid with kind words and the truest story and lots of good treasure hunts. I wondered if she would ever prize this moment as I do. And, I wondered if she would one day look down on the crown of another little girl and quietly begin to wrap one strand around the next.
“I have been reminded of your sincere faith, which first lived in your grandmother and in your mother and, I am persuaded, now lives in you.” 2 Timothy 1:5