A World of Speculation

The girl sitting across from me on the bus doesn’t remember me, but she was on my daughter’s third-grade soccer team eight years ago.

She was a beautiful child, with a mass of thick, wavy, blonde hair, which she wore in a long braid. Her mother had a no-nonsense appearance — comfortable shoes, no makeup, no jewelry, and well-made, practical clothes. There were some moms I could imagine dressed for a cocktail party, but she wasn’t one of them.

One day my daughter waved good-bye with a cheery, “Bye, Jessie!” The mother corrected her sternly: “It’s Jessica, or Jess if you must, but not Jessie.” Well, oooooookay.

For soccer picture day, the mother held her daughter in place so that she could braid her hair into an ornate French braid. I was surprised at this woman who dressed so plainly being so decorative with her daughter, and I wondered if maybe, like me, she dressed plainly because she gave up following the fashions, but wanted to emphasize the beauty she saw in her daughter.

Eight years later, the girl is wearing dark cargo pants and a black sweatshirt, her hair pulled back in a ponytail, no makeup. She looks a lot like her mother. She is a pretty teen-ager who will be a handsome woman, but she is not at all frou-frou — except for professionally shaped eyebrows.

We try so hard to give our children what we lack, but end up giving mostly what we have an abundance of.