Monday, December 7, 2015

Matching


"Sit still," he repeats for the umpteenth time. He focuses, and attempts, and adjusts his method, and focuses and adjusts and asks for further clarification. "Like this?" he questions me, as I watch from a couple feet away, smiling at his insistence he learn how to accomplish this--by himself.

My husband is fixing my daughter's hair before church, and I love it. The most problematic step in the whole ordeal was creating a center part--no small feat on the head of an active two year old turning her head this way and that as she unknowingly makes my husband's job more and more difficult. He wields the pale yellow comb we received the day she was born, the same we used to comb her hair after her first bath. With the attempted precision his job often requires, he focuses on the top of her head--and her demeanor almost mocks his efforts. She has no understanding of complete stillness at age 2 and 3/4. It is a foreign concept.

I help him secure the part, fix one half of her head, and watch as he attempts to match it on the other half, securing the ponytail at a similar height and then wrapping the hair around to create a tight bun. She calls this do "bear ears," a family name given to my younger sister when she frequently sported the look herself. 

I treasure my husband's efforts to participate in all of the child-rearing efforts: the cooking, the cleaning, the diaper changing, and even the hair-fixing. When our children receive new hand-me-downs from friends, he often asks for a tutorial of the "outfits"--developing a working knowledge of what pairings he should keep in mind when dressing them. I appreciate that when track season rolls around in three short months, and traveling follows soon after, he will require little preparation for weekends they weather without me. He knows our routine, the rhythms we follow on a daily basis. He can dress them and bathe them and fill their days with meaningful play. And even in this, he always welcomes me back with open arms (and occasionally a flower or two) when he experiences the exhaustion of my daily rituals, and all that our two precious babes require. That pat on the back, especially from someone who knows the routine, is pretty great as well.

For the rest of the day he compares the right side of her head with her left, examining how his work fares compares to mine. They are nearly identical, in my opinion, but when the right side begins to unravel, he questions (again) his technique. "You'll get better at it," I assure him, reminding him I've had three decades of practice on both myself and my sisters. He will probably never french braid her hair or create elaborate new looks, but the desire he has to master basic hair wrangling technique makes me happy. He wants to be a part of all of their care, and I am thankful.

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