My daughter has been beautiful since the day she was born, and I’ve never questioned that. My son has been beautiful since the day he was born, and I never questioned that, although I had to get over the shock of the fact that no, he was not my first-born all over again.
Beautiful, they were.
And nearly bald.
We marvel now, at ten and a half months, at how much hair Benjamin has, compared to how much hair Maggie Lu had at the same time. Really! In real life, it looks like more!
But we marvel at her hair now, too, how much there is, how we worried that it would never grow in. When did that happen?
It snuck up on us. Beneath the hair we could see, a new fringe would grow – like Snorkmaiden’s fringe. Beneath that new hair, more would grow. The new fringe would march across her face in rows, serious, intent, focused. It took its work seriously. Row after row marched, growing, like a child, from tiny to long. Now, we have a girl with a full head of hair. It’s still fine and silky, slipping out of ponytail holders and barrettes, but her scalp hides behind it like a plate beneath the bounty of Thanksgiving dinner.
Life with two children is like that, too. You look away for a minute – you read the news, you watch the Olympics in Sochi, you shower – and by the time you look back, there’s more, a bounty of childhood delight. You realize that your son has six teeth (at least!) in, that he knows to turn around and back off of the bed and can stand on his own for a long time, that he has, for more than a month, been making the sounds “Mamama” and, for weeks, “Dadada,” and that he can mimic all sorts of mouth sounds. He has been clapping for a week. You notice that, just the other day, your daughter first said the letter “f” in a way that someone outside of the house would understand. That her imagination has kept Diego, Baby Jaguar, and Alicia as her nearly-constant companions. That in spite of so many changes, she still loves to sit on the floor to look at new books, legs stretched straight in front of her, back straight (but now, a little curved, an early hint of the teenager slouch, perhaps?), intent and focused, eyes marching across the pages. She showed the same intensity yesterday at her first play, Go, Dog. Go! Benjamin cried at each startling noise, so we spent much of our time in the lobby. Not her, though. She sat with Daddy, rapt. Afterwards, she spoke to several of the “dogs” and hugged some of their legs, too, ever the social creature. In the lobby, Benjamin, a social boy himself, sat and waved at passersby, and one couple, to his delight, even came over to greet him in return, practicing, they told me, for when they would become grandparents themselves in the fall. In the path of the shining sun, his hair was aglow.
Beautiful hair, growing straight down a girl’s back or in a whorl around a boy’s head. What else will sneak up on us, will seem to be on the fringe before popping into full view?