Saturday, 7 June 2014

There was a little girl and she had a little curl

There was a little girl and she had a little curl

There was a little girl
Who had a little curl
Right in the middle of her forehead.
When she was good
She was very, very good
But when she was bad she was horrid.

How clearly I can remember my mum jogging me up and down on her lap and reciting this poem by Henry Wadsworth Longfellow (1807 - 1882) to me. It used to fill me with very mixed feelings. I wanted her to think I was very, very good, I didn't want to be horrid. I certainly didn't have any curls. People had a thing about curls then. We were always being told to eat the crusts on our bread so that we would have curly hair. A little girl in my class, called Edwina, would come to school every day with perfect ringlets. She said that her mum wrapped her hair up tightly every night in pieces of cotton so she would wake up with ringlets. I'm sure my mum would have loved to have done that too. My hair was a great disappointment to her. She had thick, lustrous, wavy, shiny hair. Mine was straight and mousy. Luckily her genes turned up in her granddaughters and great granddaughters and now curly hair is in abundance. My husband and I would gaze at the back of our daughter's head in wonder and delight, she had little curls above her ears.  In Italian, curls around the face are called Tira baci, which means they attract kisses. In English they can be called kiss curls, so curls around the face are a good thing to have.
However in Italian they also say,
Un ricciolo per ogni capriccio, a curl for every tantrum.
  My little granddaughter has so many curls that yesterday she picked up her brother's car and somehow got the curls tangled round one of the wheels. She pointed  out the problem in her charming baby way to her mum. The curl had to be cut off to set the wheel free. She took this all in her stride. I think she must have inherited more than just the curls from her great grandmother.

curly hair is always a delight, riccioli senza cappricci, curls without tantrums for this little girl

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