When Madeleine was a preschooler, we both dreaded the task of combing out her long wavy hair. I'd tell myself that combed hair was overrated and that such neatness was unnecessary, but eventually--you know how it goes--someone had to make this child look like she actually had a mother. So to entertain her and help her stay still, I made up a story about The Tangles. The Tangles loved to play in Madeleine's hair, but every so often they needed to go home to their mother who lived in our big black brush. Sometimes it was obvious to me (and Madeleine) that the Tangles had been having a party or had been to the circus or had been riding roller coasters all day long. Other times it was clear that the Tangles had no intention of leaving--they were having too much fun--and the Tangles' mother would beg them to come home, so they could do scandalous things like eat ice cream in bed or watch television until morning. Madeleine loved not only to hear this story but to help create it. We told the story of The Tangles for a long time, until she was a much bigger girl and was learning to brush her hair without parental assistance.
I think of this story longingly now as Madeleine--fully capable of brushing her hair perfectly, now leaves the house with hair that I wish I could immediately drive to a salon for a thorough deep shampoo and conditioning treatment. Somehow it never occurred to me to add a rain chapter to the Tangles story, so I could work in the shampoo angle.
But what we do have is this story and this memory, and that gives us both a sweet and powerful place to stand as we deal with whatever challenges that come our way in the future. I'm hopeful about that and wondering what stories we need to share now to help us take on the next development stage of our growing up and learning together as mother and daughter.
Do you have a favorite family story that helps your child come along in the growing up process?