Saturday afternoon, Husband had a spontaneous date with his buds to play bocce ball in Central Park. Before leaving, he asked: "Babe, do you know where we can buy a bocce ball around here?" And I looked at him like he was crazy. Because if you have plans to play a sport, however obscure, shouldn't someone involved have the ball? Maybe "bocce ball" was code for "more beer"? Anyway, off he went into the lush green wilderness that is Central Park. And I was not even a pinch resentful. No, I was happy to stay home with my impeccably behaved Mini Me's. Baby napped which was a legitimate miracle. As soon as I got her to sleep and escaped her tiny room, pulling the door softly behind me, I heard those telltale whimpers coming from Toddler's room. Of course. So, I went in and there she was in her crib, standing and smiling, in nothing but a purple (and dry!) Pull-Up. (These days, she has a predilection for "naked girl naps" and it is blazing hot and she is all of two, so I happily oblige her.) Over those antiqued white crib rails, she leaped into my arms with such gazelle-like grace that I promptly determined (1) she is a future track star; and (2) she should be out of that crib sooner rather than later.
I placed her down on the toy-littered carpet. And I sat there in that glider where I used to rock furiously, going nowhere, nursing her, praying for sleep. And I watched my big girl prance around her yellow domain, full of post-nap adrenaline. And in that moment, I saw something I see every day. But for some reason, it was suddenly stark and symbolic and beautiful.
Yes, my big girl, who was practically hairless for a year, now has a mess of beautiful dirty blonde hair. It's straight up top with impossibly chic side-swept bangs and ringlets on the bottom. Deliciously cute. But she has one curl which stands out from the rest. It is longer and curls perfectly just like (you guessed it) a corkscrew. In the bath, when Toddler's hair is wet, this curl stretches out all the way down her back. Well, you get the pic: it is long. And corkscrew-y. And utterly amazing.
I started to get Toddler dressed. But I held off on the shirt.
"Can Mommy take a picture of your curl?" I asked.
Suddenly, I was a tenacious member of the Mamarazzi and I was going to get me that money shot. "Just one picture!" I pleaded.
"I will give you a Popsicle if you let me take a picture," I said. "A chocolate one."
Toddler shrugged her tiny shoulders, but didn't yet commit. And I handed her that Pop. At which point, she flashed a vast, victorious, smile and started running away. And because I am a bit bigger and my legs are a few inches longer, I caught up with her. And, camera in hand, pleaded some more. To no avail.
It was time for good old trickery. I pointed up at the ceiling. "Look! There are caterpillars in the chandelier!" I proclaimed. (Where do I come up with this stuff?) She glanced up briefly. Rolled those eyes. We went on like this for a bit, but then it seems she gave up. Or forgot about my ridiculous mission. She sat down on the floor of our kitchen and I squatted behind her and snapped the above pic. And, now you can see what I have the privilege of seeing all the time. The cutest corkscrew!
There is something about that careening curl against that porcelain slope of back. There is something about that loner lock, that rogue ringlet. I love it. There is something about it that screams whimsy, and youth. Because no adult would have a curl like that or let that curl roam free. I look at that corkscrew and I smile and I feel a staggering stab of pride. Because my once bald babe has hair. Her own kind of hair. Unique. Exquisite. Because my hair is (naturally) the same color as hers, but mine is stick straight. I love that she is like me, but also different. I look at that corkscrew and want to freeze time, to tell my silly girl not to grow older. To tell that silly curl not to grow longer. But I can't do that. Time does its own thing, marching on, whizzing by, despite our deepest wishes.
But what I can do is snap pictures, and carve memories, and write stories. So I will.