What? Oh, you think I’m talking about a bun, as in a person’s buttocks.
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:
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!”
Sophie’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!
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…
a Perfect Bun.