“Mom, can I get a curling iron?”
Ruby’s brown eyes roamed over me. As a poster child for naturally curly hair, I owned a curling iron in junior high. For feathering my hair, you understand, a la Farrah Fawcett et al. I also remember burning my forehead at least once.
“I thought you liked your hair straight,” I said.
It’s true. For years, she’s wanted her hair as straight as possible. For the most part, it’s obliged. As a toddler, it fluffed around her face in slight curls. When it got long – and it took years to get there – she had ringlets on the end of each tress. Her hair, a fine, shiny, dark blondish-caramel, was wonderful.
Fast forward to Ruby’s 10-year-old self, and it’s a darker caramel-with-honey-highlights color. It’s thicker now, with a bit of wave to it. I’d almost say beachy wave, but she wouldn’t like it. In fact, on several occasions before church, she’d ask me to straighten it. Usually five minutes before we needed to be onstage singing or playing, but you don’t need to know that.
“I don’t want curly hair like you or dad, Mom,” she’d tell me, eyeing herself in the mirror as I worked her way around her head with my $20 animal=print flatiron.
I nodded as I passed the baby-soft hair, slippery locks between the heated metal plates. But between Jonathon’s super tight curls he keeps under control by cutting it super short, and my S-bent mane, I’m not sure she has much of a prayer. Puberty will tell.
We spent some time last fall braiding it before school. Only it wouldn’t stay braided, it’s so slick. She had a headband season, too. But always, she went back to having it down.
“I like how it flies behind me when I run, sorta like a cape.” I could see the appeal of that.
You can see why the curling iron request stumped me.
Yet then I remembered. Ruby will be 11 in October. She’s a tween, as much as I hate to admit it. She’s starting to grow into a young lady and wonders what she would look like if she tried something new. She stares into the mirror, looking at her face, her hair, her body. She used to make funny faces. Okay, she still does that. But she’s growing up. I’ve had other signs, of course. She gave up princesses at least 3 years ago. Now she won’t order off the kids’ menu at restaurants.
“That’s for babies,” she says, a scowl on her heart-shaped face. “I want regular food, not just chicken strips, burgers or pizza.”
Alrighty, then. Would mademoiselle like the lobster bisque tonight?
Only, I’m not quite ready to let go. She’s my baby. She still tucks her small hand in mine when we take walks or hang out at the park. She leans into me when she’s unsure of a new situation or unfamiliar people. She loves physical affection, the comfort of touch. One of us reads to her almost every night, and we pray together, too.
She’s moving away, though, inch by inch. Today a curling iron, tomorrow makeup, driving, and…boys. I need to let it happen and be there as she grows up. I’m glad for the little girl she’s been. I look forward to the young lady she will become.
For everything there is a season,
a time for every activity under heaven. – Ecclesiastes 3:1