One of my favourite things is sitting with my toddler after his bath. He is warm and calm, engrossed in a Youtube compilation of clips featuring rockets, planes, helicopters or – ideally – all three. For that one brief pocket of time when he is still, I brush his hair (and brush, and brush). And he lets me, it feels like a small miracle.
His toddler hair is copper coloured, fine-soft curls. So silky and shiny I have to touch it every time I walk past him. Do I sound a little bit wistful? I am.
It took a long time for James to grow any hair. For at least the first 12 months we were taking guesses on what colour his hair would turn out to be. In some lights the few strands he’d sprouted looked strawberry blonde, in others light brown, and in some decidedly ginger. After 2.5 years of sporadic growth he was no-doubt a red-head, with matching temperament. A scruffy-looking red-head at that.
I knew a haircut was imminent, but when Mark announced that he would be cutting James’s hair before the day was out, I figured it would be one of many things on our to-do list that would get bumped for another day. To my surprise, late that gloomy Easter afternoon, Mark set James up at the kitchen table with a bath towel around his shoulders and something captivating playing on the laptop. Under the kitchen lights, Mark worked away with the all-purpose scissors, measuring tufts of hair between his fingers like they do at the hairdressers. I watched through a glass pane in the kitchen door so as not to disturb the stillness and concentration as little rings of copper dropped on the floor.
I’ll forever remember it as a tableau, looking in from the outside (the living room, not the actual outside!), the heavy sky, the ambient light, two heads bent in concentration.
And just like that, my toddler became a little boy *sob*.
Credit to Mark; he did a surprisingly good job of the neat-back-&-sides look. And is it weird to say a toddler has a lovely shaped head???
I’d anticipated his first haircut as a matter of practicality, but I can see now why many cultures consider it a rite of passage. It’s a milestone that I wish I’d spent a little more time contemplating before the event. I would have spent an extra 5 minutes (maybe 10) brushing his curls regardless of how long past bedtime it was already. But, hey, what’s another 5 or 10 minutes when I’d already spent hundreds of them soaking in the moments of our nightly wind-down? It’s only that the sense of nostalgia for the curls, which were not even swept from the floor yet, took me by surprise.
I still like to rub his little head when I can get hold of it, but it feels a bit less like candy floss now.