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Qualified

It is me she has asked. To braid her hair.

Me with the unqualified fingers. Fingers that feel thick like cucumbers. That grip wayward wisps too tightly or not at all and lump the hair accidentally as it sags from its grip. Fingers that pull first a bit here and then there til there is something held together with a rubber band. Something that only a daughter who trusts her mother’s clumsy fingers could smile at.

And sometimes mine smiles.

My own sisters are the ones with skilled hands. Hands that over our early years adeptly gripped hair and criss-crossed its strands into envious braids. And whose fingers could–even now–dance with the hair as their eyes and lips speak in kind conversation.

But they are not asked for braids. My sisters. Not asked for braids that start over on one side and end with a fish tail down the back. Not asked for a French braid or a pony tail or, for the love, a straight part while they balance four bags on each arm, sway with one foot in the garage and eye the oven clock that blinks it was time to leave six minutes ago.

Because.

Because they have sons. Not daughters.

And so they are my fingers. The ones that will do the braiding. The ones taking minutes more than anyone else. Apologizing for bumps where bumps shouldn’t be.

And it is my girl who will grin at the mirror and thank me in smiles as she pats the top of her head on down to the rubber band.

Because–if only in her eyes, I’m qualified.

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