For two years, two months and 21 days, Kitty was the only grandchild and great grandchild on both sides of the family. It’s not really the biggest of surprises that she’s never lacked for teddies, stuffies, dollies and other cuddly things. Each has been welcomed into the family, hugged tightly, and generally loved but although some have come close, no one single toy has claimed her affections to the extent that I’ve ever considered buying back ups so that the original and best could be (a) washed or (b) accidentally lost without a stratospheric collapse of toddler equanimity. And while I might have wished a little more attachment to some of the toys which I think are special, the dolly named Elma that her baby sister gave her in the hospital or the elephant which I knitted for her when she was still a bump to name but two, for the most part it’s been nice not to have to worry about finding one special stuffie from the teddy mountain ranges that span my house when it comes to bedtime.
All she wants – is my hair.
Even as a baby she would reach up and curl tiny fat little fingers tightly into any loose strands, and as she grew it stayed a constant, past the end of nursing, past the arrival of her sister, and even past my futile attempts to tie my hair up and out of the way.
If she can’t find my hair, her own will do; it’s always a big neon flashing “I’m Sleepy!!” sign when she starts sucking her thumb and twirling her hair with the spare hand, usually spotted in my rear view mirror as we pootle home from nursery.
Her idea of a cuddle is to curl up into my shoulder with one hand reaching up and round to the nape of my neck, pull my hair loose, and then hold tight, and when she climbs into our bed in the middle of the night it’s the hair pulling that gives her away. Well that and the kicking.
It’s one of those things that will pass as she grows, at least it will in its current incarnation. But for now I think it’s reassuring for both of us. Well right up until the point that holding turns into hauling and I take refuge by hiding under a pillow. It is one of the few things where only Mummy will do. It’s the thing that makes her feel safe, loved and protected.
I hope that she will learn that she doesn’t need to hold my hair over the next few years, because frankly she’s getting quite a lot stronger as she gets bigger, but I’m going to try my best to make sure that she knows that for as long as she needs me, and even when she thinks she doesn’t, I will always be her corner where she can come to hide, her comfort and her support.