Her body is limp and warm as I pull off the PJs and dress her in yoga pants and a flowered shirt. Her fever has come way down but it’s still lingering. We should have left for Richmond hours ago, but I couldn’t bear to wake her.
Now fully dressed, she folds herself into my lap and I reach for the comb.
I work the teeth through her soft curls, careful not to pull at the tangles.
As I come to each little knot, I hold the hair close to her head and work gently at removing it.
She doesn’t normally let me do this for so long. Usually she is up and running before I can get the comb through half of her hair. But today is different. I am in a hurry, but she is sick and just wants to be close. She’ll put up with anything to stay in my lap. So I push Richmond off for a bit and just comb her hair.
I pull the bow and small rubber band from the bag and she doesn’t argue. Most mornings I would hear No Mommy! I don’t want anyfing in my hair, but today she holds the bow for me and sits patiently while I comb her unruly locks back into a ponytail.
When she was smaller and mostly bald, I daydreamed about the braids and pig tails and bows and curls that are par for the course when mothering a little girl. Then once her hair started growing, she let me put it up and comb it and play with it until about 6 months ago. Then, like most things in childhood, that ended and she stopped letting me do it. Wanted nuffing in her hair.
So during these times of surrender from her, I just eat it up.
I finish the ponytail and add the bow. On any other day she’d probably yank on it until it was half out and the bow was on the floor. But today, she sits and leans her soft head into my chest and I let her.