There's something about her hair that deeply connects the two of us--the way I brush through it every morning, at first combing my fingers cautiously down the nape of her neck, then growing more careless as I reach the middle of her back. I always start, "Did you wash all the conditioner out? Your hair feels so cakey."
I begin raking through her top layers, "And there's left over hairspray in your part--it's all flaky up here." I tap on her head, pointing. "You need to wash more thoroughly."
"I know, Mom! You tell me this every morning and it's old. I'm trying my very best. Knock it off and think of something new to say."
She's right; I'm a nag, a nuisance, a broken record. What will she do with a mom like me?
"Well," I say. "What's new with you? Any drama? New crush? Do you ever have dreams about sneaking into the bedroom of the cutest girl in the school, then cutting her hair off until she's bald?"
"What? You're demented, Mom! I would never dream about doing something like that, eewh." she says, crinkling her nose.
I switch from brushing to styling her hair, and the demands start firing like a machine gun. "I just want a side pony. No braids. No bump in the front. Just the pony, that's all. OK, Mom?" This time I do what she asks with minimal resistance.
"Guess what, Mom?"
"There's this boy in my class, and he totally bugs."
"What's he like--fat? Small and Skinny? Does he have bad breath and yellow teeth?"
"He's none of that, Mom. He's just annoying, and I can't stand how he spits when he talks and laughs when he shouldn't. He gets in trouble every day. And you know what else?"
"What?" I say.
"He smiles at me all the time."
I begin making a high trill with my voice, and my eyes go wide, "He likes you, Nah. Woohoo. He's totally in love with and crazy for you."
"Gross, Mom. Are you done with my hair yet?"
"Yes." She moves away from me to the other mirror, swiveling her head back and forth. She likes what she sees. All of it.
I watch her as she flips her pony over her shoulder and bounces out of the bathroom. I note her perfect frame and follow her out, inhaling the mix of her hairspray and Pink perfume; I can't get enough. She's already twenty steps ahead of me when I hear her distant,"Goodbye, Mom. I love you."
I quickly begin wafting all the air around me, pulling it close to my nose. I can't smell what was there just seconds ago. Her scent has dissipated, leaving me alone with the smell of over cooked eggs and an almost gone blackberry Wall Flower. I miss her when she is gone.