Thursday, 31 May 2007

Then and Now

I've got a picture of my eldest, aged four months, sitting in her grandfather's arms. She is grinning up at him in a beguiling way, her face radiating perfect unstudied innocence. Her face is also just the tiniest bit dirty (I suspect that she is wearing part of her lunch on her cheeks and her grandfather has not realized this), and she is clapping her tiny hands, which look wet, as though she has been chewing on her fingers, and the clothes she is wearing are a mess. Her hair looks like it hasn't been brushed in the past twenty-four hours. In short, she is a rather slimy, ungroomed, mucky pup. But oh, what a beauty.

Fast forward sixteen years. My eldest is getting ready to go to work, a process that can take up to two hours, especially when there is anything like physics or chemistry homework to be done or it is her turn to do the dishes. Her thick, bushy hair has been ironed to an unnatural metallic smoothness, her beautiful eyebrows have been plucked to a ridiculously thin line. She has done things to her face that I wish she had not done (though I thank God that she has thus far restricted her piercings to her ear lobes), and her lips are glossy with fruity stuff that she seems compelled to refresh every thirty minutes. She is wearing clothes that make me want to run up to her and cover her in a burqua, and shoes that I cannot believe are comfortable. In short, she is a gussied-up, under-dressed over-groomed young thing. But oh, what a beauty.


Katie Alender said...

Well, there's the hope that someday she'll find the happy medium. ;-)

Brian said...

We have the usual children's photos of the grubby-face , daggy-dak style -- but I did insist that absolutely NO photos be taken of them naked on rugs and the like .

Such , to my thinking , are an abomination -- particularly when they are brought out for jolly laughs at birthday parties when the child has achieved twenty-one .


Carole said...

Beauty is amazing and looks so different depending on the heart that surveys it. And I don't think I have had a moment where I thought any of my children and now grandchild, has been anything but beautiful.

Kim Ayres said...

I'm sure I was commenting on someone else's blog recently about how genetics and impringing and the like mean that everyone thinks their kids are the most beautiful in the world.

Fortunately for me, while everyone else is suffering from a slight delusion, MINE ACTUALLY ARE the most beautiful kids in the world

Mary Witzl said...

Katie -- I am thrilled that she's growing up, bittersweet though it is. But I really do wish she'd leave her eyebrows alone...

Brian -- I agree about the naked rug shots. Babies are undignified enough as it is, and it is wrong to take advantage of this. But sometimes when they patronize me, I always wish I had a few naked-baby-on-bearskin rug pictures to brandish at them, just to take them down a peg or two.

Carole -- There have been one or two times -- okay, one or two hundred times -- when I've looked at my kids and thought they could act a little better, but I too have always found them beautiful.

Kim -- I remember feeling sorry for the other mothers in the hospital when I had my youngest. She was an amazingly round, fine-looking baby and so completely superior to all of the other infants that it was shockingly obvious. When I caught myself pitying the other mothers, I felt so embarrassed. But there it was...Nice to know that I couldn't help myself because of genetic programming.

Brian said...

I must be the odd one out among parents .
It is true that I do not subscribe to the generally held idea that babies are beautiful , especially when only recently born , but I would not wish to insult anyone's feelings with comments about parental sentimentality etc . Big Grin .

My first experience of fatherhood was seeing this swaddled object held up behind a glass screen , very blond , but with eyes painted round with some sort of orange coloured stuff ( this was 55 years ago ! ) and I swear that the child's head had points , making it look like a cube.
I went away muttering to myself : I have sired a Kraut
He grew to be a bit of a lady-killer though.
The two later girls were babies and that's all .

None of my children were really beautiful babies , taking after their father rather than their mother in physical matters ,

Their intelligence and general quality of mind , which to me are much much more important, are another matter entirely.

Their children have left my genes out in the cold somewhere , I am happy to say .

Mary Witzl said...

Brian -- 'I have sired a Kraut.' That really made me laugh!

My eldest was born with a rather pointy head too; I think that might have had something to do with her having been delivered with forceps. Unlike any of the other babies, all of whom were 100% British, she also had a full head of hair. The only other babies with hair were Asian, so mine attracted a lot of attention from Asian and Caucasian mothers alike, as though I'd managed some wonderfully clever party trick.

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