With Eliot, I had few sentimental attachments to her babyhood — it was as though infancy and each stage after was something to be endured and raced through on the way to the next (presumably easier) stage. Baby clothes and toys were packed away, bottles were sanitized and stowed in boxes, the Co-Sleeper folded into its case and stashed unceremoniously in a basement closet — all of it with nary a second thought from me that with them meant the permanent passing of her babyness, that all-too-brief and ephemeral time.
Even her first haircut, which came well before she turned 2, and which I decided on because it was getting a little shaggy and falling in her eyes — zero sentiment whatsoever. Grammy and I made an appointment at Salon Cool, and as we were running out the door, I grabbed Mike’s camera and think I took about 30 seconds of video of the whole affair. When Gail asked if I wanted some of her baby hair, I was so casual about the whole affair I actually said no.
AND THEN I HAD NOLA.
In one sense, the second baby always gets the shaft: no shower or ooh and aah factor, virtually every toy and piece of clothing a hand-me-down, all the obsessive fretting you devoted to Baby Number One fallen by the wayside; as I said of Nola, she was lucky to be wearing a diaper and playing with anything safer than a lighter and Swiss Army knife.
On the other hand, all the experience you’ve gleaned from Child One (see: obsessive fretting) gives you an all-new experience with Baby Two: the time and ease to be in love with her, and the aching knowing that her babyhood will be gone in a near-instant no matter how fiercely you cling to it. I remember telling Nola not to crawl, and then not to walk, wishing her into too-small clothes, hanging on to baby toys for far too long. Hell, when it finally came time to sell it, I even wrote a tear-stained ode to the Co-Sleeper.
So maybe it’s no small wonder I’ve literally refused to let a single person touch a hair on my (now two-year-old) baby’s head. For months now, as Eliot’s been motored off to the salon to have her locks trimmed, Michael and Grammy have been at me to send Nola too, and I’ve responded more like they’re suggesting she go in for genital mutilation, all, “How dare you suggest such a thing! She’s beautiful! She’s perfect just the way she is! THIS CONVERSATION IS SCARRING HER PSYCHE!”
Finally, I caved. But honestly? My cave was more, say, pothole-sized. We were taking Ellie for a haircut anyway, and I was tired of Mike bitching at me about Nola’s fuzzy patches (did you realize baby hair doesn’t grow in all even like a doll’s? Yeah, me either), so I told Gail just to trim the fuzzy stuff — just even out the length, and don’t even THINK about touching her bangs, because I’m growing those out.
(And this time around, I came armed with the video camera, the digital SLR, and the iPhone so I could immediately Facebook the news to Gramma Sue.)
And did I want a cutting of baby (now little-girl) hair? OF COURSE I DID. I wanted Gail to sweep every last blond filament off the floor and delicately tie it into a bag for me to CRY AWAY NOLA’S BABYHOOD INTO LATER.
(Nola did much better than I did. Apart from not being entirely down with the whole shampoo-and-condition, she dug the little car you sit in and all the toys to play with, but FUCK THE DRYER EXPERIENCE. Even with Gail telling her Panda Bear was loving getting his hair dryer on, Nola was all, “TOO HOT! TOO HOT!!” Baby went home air-dried. (And after dinner, Mommy went home with a few more vodka tonics in her than usual.)