The PERFECT BUN

perfect bunIs it possible to have a perfect bun?

What? Oh, you think I’m talking about a bun, as in a person’s buttocks.

Nooooo.

And I’m not talking about a delicious round bread roll, despite the fact that there are several left over from the Thanksgiving meal.buns

No, I’m talking about a bun, otherwise known as a chignon. You know, that round roll-up of hair twisted and placed at the back of a woman’s head.

I have the good fortune of bringing my 7-year-old granddaughter to ballet every Tuesday afternoon. We began this routine in mid-September. I will disarm anyone who tries to prevent me from this “chore.”

First, I find her at her after-school daycare program, where at 3:45 at least 40 other rambunctious, raucous and rowdy little ones are snacking on saltines and telling stories – about little brothers, funny teachers, weekend soccer games, and the like.

But as soon as my Sophie spies me walking through the door, she jumps up from the table as if Santa has just arrived. Yes, every time. I feel like a superhero.

After a hug and a quick rundown on her school day’s activities, we race to my car and drive the 9 minutes to her ballet lesson. The ride goes too quickly, because she never has time to finish the Taylor Swift song she’s singing to me, or the knock knock joke she’s just learned:

Knock Knock

Who’s there?

Mikey.

Mikey who?

And as we tumble out of the car toward the ballet studio, she screams over her head,

“Mikey doesn’t fit in the key hole!”

ballet dancer, ballet bunSophie’s ballet teacher is 92. Mrs. R is as lovely as a rose that’s perhaps stayed on the vine a bit too long. She’s gently agile, and her face is pleated into soft folds. As she welcomes each little girl, her pleats deepen.

Mrs. R’s daughter is the “assistant” teacher who actually trains the second graders. The 60-something daughter is as smooth as a well-known dream, her beauty shining through her taut lean muscles. She and her mom were once professional ballet dancers. Now they share their passion for a “sport” that requires more athleticism and discipline and strength than football, soccer, and hockey combined.

And precision. Ballet demands precision, which includes the perfect leotard. The perfect ballet slippers, and particularly,

The perfect bun.

As Sophie quickly changes out of her school clothes to her ballet attire in the tiny bathroom off the studio, I search in her ballet bag for the needed accoutrements for the most difficult task of my week:

Ponytail holder. Check!

Dozens of wide bobby pins. Check!

Hair net. Check!ballet bun instructions

I quickly peruse the bun chart on the wall. Sophie dashes out of the bathroom, dressed and ready for my ministrations.

The first time I attempted to make her perfect ballet bun, I failed. Miserably.

Mrs. R sighed, softly but with great meaning, undid the bun, and circled the half dozen girls around her and my granddaughter so they could see how to create a bun – correctly.

The second time I tried, a week later, I came prepared with better bobby pins and a stronger hairnet.

But it wasn’t an acceptable ballet net.

I failed, again.

But my buns get better each week. Or at least I think so. Sophie is graceful in her gratefulness each time I stick in my last bobby pin, and she skips into the wood-floored dance room.

Me? I savor each moment of pulling her long thick hair into a ponytail, twisting it into a loose braid, rolling it into a circle, and then pushing bobby pins into that circle to keep the hair in place.

Sophie hands me each bobby pin as I say, “Next.” Then, “Next.” She counts how many I use each week.

This past Tuesday, after I triumphantly shout, “Done!” Sophie stands on tiptoes in front of the hallway mirror, moves her head from side to side, and declares,

“Madre, that is a PERFECT BUN!”

How high did my heart lift?

Higher than it ever did when I got an A+ in my college Shakespeare class. Even higher than when I published my first book.

Nothing compares with completing…

granddaughter, ballet, bun

a Perfect Bun.

 

66 thoughts on “The PERFECT BUN

  1. I can understand why you fight for the privilege of driving your granddaughter . I would do the same. That bun looks gorgeous , have you dried French braiding , I love doing it.

  2. What a wonderful thing for you to do with your sweet granddaughter. I can see how much you enjoy this time. You are building wonderful memories for both of you. Bravo for mastering the perfect bun!! ❤

    • I’m purposely building memories. I didn’t have enough time with my grandparents, so I want to rectify that and have my grandkids remember lots about me, from dancing for no reason in the middle of the grocery store, to creating perfect buns. 🙂 Thanks for stopping by here.

  3. My daughter did ballet for years and years. I never, ever got anywhere close to the perfect bun. Thanks heavens for my best friend with 2 daughters in ballet who covered for me week after week, recital after recital, year after year. And now I have 2 granddaughters taking ballet lessons! My buns are no better, but my daughters are perfection ❤

  4. What a special ritual for you and your granddaughter. Something you’ll both look back on fondly. And you’ve developed a new skill as well. Can’t beat that. Soon you’ll be the Bun Queen!

  5. I like this story very much., You have such a wonderful relationship with your granddaughter. I marvel at that. The whole routine of the ballet reads like the highlight of your day. Life is good for you and your grandchild.

    • I suppose some would think taking a granddaughter to ballet would be the least exciting moments of their day. And I suppose I’m a bit odd, but seeing the light shine in a child’s eyes beats office work any day, for me. 🙂

  6. Awww – what a wonderful story!! I’ve never had the pleasure of ballet lessons in my life – either for myself or a daughter. I suspect I would be incompetent in the bun department.

    I loved your description of Mrs R and her daughter. They both sound simply lovely and I’m guessing their students adore them.

    • Mrs. R and her daughter are the kind of people who are out there, making a difference in so many lives, and yet are unsung and unknown about. Yes, their students absolutely adore them!! And Mrs. R is teaching the GRANDGIRLS of some of her earlier students!

  7. As for hair at our Thanksgiving, my 51-year old daughter in law wears a shoulder-length straight platinum blonde wig because her hair is thin and takes too long to do before work. Each granddaughter spends 20-40 minutes each morning straightening her hair to look fit for schools. I now realize how outdated the slight wave in my hair is.

    • But then again, my 7 year old granddaughter (with nary a wave in her hair) strokes my hair, in awe of all my curls. I know, I’ve fought my curls and waves for all of my years, but you and I should glorify them now, I think. :-0

    • Sweeeet, Jeanette, thanks. Don’t you wonder where the expression, tug of my heartstrings’ came from? The fact is, when something emotionally touches us, we really CAN feel our heart get tugged.xo

    • There comes a point when we have to let go-even fixing a loved one’s hair. However, now I find that my mom asks me to brush and cut her hair instead of using a hairstylist. So perhaps it goes full circle.

  8. Keep these loving thoughts close to the forefront of your mind, when you look out the window this winter as it snows and you think” why did we ever leave sunny California’? Love you my friend!!!!

  9. you’re the really truly good grandmother, Pam. But what’s with the bun requirement; she’s only in the second grade and in the Bolshoi. Feels a bit antiquated and conformist. Oh well, Mrs R is the boss lady and I guess it does her way. Me, I think Sophie would look great with or without it. Me, well, I like the story!

  10. I cherish the memories I made with my grandmother. You’ve made some special ones with your granddaughter, Pam.
    As for the bun, I’ll admit, I did get a little excited thinking we were going to chat about the other buns. 🙂
    Your granddaughter is beautiful. ❤

    • I wonder how many people checked out my blog looking for a different kind of good looking bun. 😏 well, hopefully they stuck around to learn about little girls and hair buns and how wonderful it can be to be a grandparent. 💗

  11. It’s amazing how the actions and words of one so little can lift us up or on occasions put us down. Lucky for me that’s not a duty I’ve been called on to perform (yet?) as I’m all fingers and thumbs but I’ll be coming to you for instruction if I need it.
    xxx Massive Hugs xxx

  12. And what a beautiful bun it is!! I remember all the years of dance class. But I never had to worry about a “perfect bun” Pony tails yes… buns? No. Not even for recitals. But you did a wonderful job!! 😉

    • Thanks Courtney. To be honest I don’t remember going through this with my daughter when she was in ballet. But her ballet teacher was OCD and I think she insisted on doing each little girls bun herself. 😝

  13. I took ballet when I was little and my mother could not make a bun with my hair at all — way too thick and long and heavy. I don’t recall if my ballet teacher was irritated by that or not, I just know I got away with ponytails. It could also explain why I could never execute a perfect pirouette! 🙂 It’s all about the bun.

  14. 91 – wow! Here in Jersey though Miss Guy who started her ballet school in 1941 just after the Germans arrived still teaches the babies but has handed over most of her duties. The school is still in the same place 76 years on. (I’m not sure she considers buns quite so important 🙂 )

  15. Great story! When I was a young girl and had long hair, it seemed as if something was always askew or uneven. Perfection alluded my mother’s attempts to braid or put my hair into ponytails. Oh well… 😉

    • Oops, Pam, I didn’t finish this thought.
      Carol B. (author) was talking about chick-lit. Enjoying reading lighter books. She was asking about a movie quote.
      There was a crossover moment where I thought the time spent with practicing the making of your granddaughter’s hair bun for ballet would make a realistic addition to a book about women. 🙂

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