Tuesday, December 26, 2006

Gently curling moods

I received, in addition to a pile of presents that included a Kone vacuum, DVD player for my bedroom, pants, shirts, jewelry, the Betty Crocker cookbook, shoes (brown flats! With a floppy ribbon bow!), a Chi hairstyling device. If you’re not familiar with the concept, there’s this crazy hot little ceramic deal that pulls any curl into submission very quickly and efficiently. I love mine and used it immediately after I was finished unwrapping gifts yesterday morning. My hair, of course, then looked glorious. Sleek, shiny and ever so straight.

I woke this morning to hang out with Little One while her grandmother took a much needed nap (they’d been up since 3AM). We took down ornaments, decided which of her toys should be removed from her toy room and placed downstairs to make room for the massive quantity of new items she’d received, talked and watched Dora. When Mom woke, I scampered downstairs to take a shower. Then I returned to eat breakfast, try to conquer parts of the insane mess that was encompassed my childhood home, and, finally, to cuddle back in bed again to sleep.

I woke up about a half hour ago and when I brushed my teeth, I shook my head over my hair. Curls. Curls upon curls. I try to let it dry naturally because it tends toward frizzing otherwise. I’m careful to use products for the same reason. But when I sleep with it wet, it insists upon curling six ways to Sunday, bouncing happily to be in its natural state.

It’s genetic, I think. Little One’s head is covered with light brown curls that, if she’s like me, will darken with age. I’ve threatened to take her home with me if they don’t start using some sort of gentle product to restrain the fuzziness and consult a stylist for how to properly care for those curls. I was a mess though most of grade and high school as a result of improper hair care.

My point, I considered as I thoughtfully snacked on day old monkey bread, is that being a bit negative and melancholy might be like curling hair. It’s just where I tend when I’m not paying close enough attention. When left to my own devices, I’ll get sad. It is, however, easy to pull me from it. I’m affected by my environment to such a degree that I can spring from my dull disinterest to giggling joy in seconds. But when I return to solitude, my thoughts drift to the upsetting somehow.

An example? Well, I have several.

I’ve been thinking of what my dad said the other day. Something like, “Everyone likes Grandma more. Grandpa isn’t anybody’s favorite.”

And it’s true. Both my animals, Little One, me, Brother… we all gravitate toward Mom. She’s sunny and giving and loving. It’s easy to be around her – we laugh and bask in this gentle warmth. Dad, on the other hand, is unpredictable. You’re never sure if some mistake will invoke laughter or irritation. Chienne sometimes receives cuddles when she approaches, but is sometimes scolded for being in the way. In the absence of knowledge as to what caused the latter, she simply avoids him. He’s wonderful with Little One, but fails to help with Mom’s around. Diaper change? Find Grandma. Make a mess? Tell Grandma. Need a different toy? Grandma will get it. So why the surprise when she naturally looks for Grandma at any given opportunity?

For Mom, Brother and me, there are mildly insulting comments, constant advice and a relatively steady stream of negativity. Being one who can dish it out but not take it, he’ll lapse quickly into hurt feelings if anyone tries to correct him. That doesn’t always stop us, but it often does. So I’ve been puzzling it over in my mind – if I’m more like Mom, who is generous to the point of exhaustion, or Dad, who inadvertently pushes people away.

But there are undeniably happy times here, and I’ve done much more smiling than thoughtful frowning over the past days.

“It’s a bear!” Dad said, trying to be impressed, but failing when he opened one of my gifts. “Why does it have a remote?” Upon pressing it, the bear makes a farting noise and his face lit with delight. “Little One will love this!” And she does. Brother, Dad and Little One squabbled over the remote yesterday from a toy I bought from a catalog, all the while mourning that people in my family would truly find humor in such a device. I do enjoy the look I get from Mom upon every sound from the toy Little One has dubbed “Boofer Bear.”

“Oh, this one should be your favorite.” I said, handing one present to Dad. I gave them several presents together – a soft blanket for napping on the couch, liquid soaps for the kitchen and bathroom, and “It’s a picture of me!” I giggled and they both made the right sounds of appreciation. Mom had taken the photo when they’d visited earlier and we’d gone to see waterfalls. I don’t particularly mind pictures being taken, but I rarely frame them and offer them as gifts. I thought it would be rather funny. They, however, adore it, and it’s at the forefront of their picture collection in the corner. I should remember to tuck it in behind numerous baby pictures soon.

Little One opened toys for hours. She played with her new baby in a new stroller, bassinet, carrier set. She offered music from her new learning table. There are Little People and Dora’s backpack, several reading devices, many games, Elmo toys, Strawberry Shortcake dolls… and those are just the ones that remain in the living room after several trips to her toy room to find space for all this stuff. So I’ve played and ooohed over all her new toys. I listen to stories and am pleased to report I’m quickly gaining the skill to decipher her language.

We opened presents with my two tiny cousins last night. My bouncing Tigger gift for Little Cousin was a huge hit. She bounced and smiled with it. Her father thanked me for choosing a toy with a relatively low sound level. Other Cousin – a little boy who is absolutely adorable – did quite well too. He pounded on a tool set given by my parents until Little Cousin took his hammer. Then there was a negotiation/crying/whining session to restore order. I sat in the corner to observe, snapping pictures and looking up to see Uncle, one Cousin-in-law, Mom and Brother doing the same. It was beautiful – all the bright colors and little faces looking in wonder at their new stuff. Being distracted by someone else’s gift, then focusing on their mothers who were directing them to the next wrapped present. It was really, really lovely. And I was happy in those moments. Warm. Not at all jealous that I wasn’t on the floor with a little one of my own. Just happy that people I loved had families they loved. It worked.

I did have a brief pity party over my lack of significant other on the quiet drive home from Aunt’s. Just as I felt a little sorry for myself as I worked on my paper revisions last night. It’s like curling hair. Whining and reflection on the sad stuff might just be what I do.

The house is still a mess, though blessedly quiet for the moment. Mom and Little One are sleeping, I’m tucked under a soft blanket and eager to throw myself on the office floor and read blogs. I don’t believe we’re going anywhere today, so I’ll let my hair curl for the time being. There are worse things than having the ability to straighten it when I want something different, I guess. I’ve just been trying to remember to straighten my attitude as needed as well.


The Contessa said...

I love the metaphors. THe straaightening device sounds neat so i will need to go looking for one of those too!

Sounds like you are having a glorious trip home!

LaKisha said...

1. Tell me more about this Chi!
2. Ah yes, but curly hair is not bad--it is quite a blessing actually.

apparently said...

Yes, more about this Chi. I have the same annoyingly curly hair.

I commented to a friend how TheKid much prefers his dad to me and friend said "who doesn't". Friend wasn't being mean, its just true. So I feel for your father.

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