Olivia is Tanis’s baby. She is just sixteen months old. Tanis and Adam had her just one day after my birthday last year. Several months ago, when Olivia was still in a phase where she was more amenable to being held by everyone and anyone, she came to an all staff meeting at Tremont, and I wrote this post about her. She was fascinated by me, and wouldn’t stop staring at me, and at first I assumed this meant that she understood that I was her Aunt Kitty and that I loved her and thought she was pretty much the cutest most beautiful little peanut in the world. I assumed, in short, that we had an understanding, that we had a connection, I mean after all, she was born just one day after my birthday—and that’s just so special. It wasn’t until Tanis passed her to me to hold for a second as she fished around for something in her bag that I realized that Olivia’s fascination was less about an understanding, intimate connection, and more about a fascination with the unknown. As I bounced her on my hip, her little eyes lit up. She reached out her tiny little nectarine fist, grabbed a chunk of my bright blonde hair and tugged, as babies do.
About six weeks ago, Tremont 647 turned 10. We had a big party at the restaurant, and Olivia of course made an appearance, with parents in tow. Once again, I was tasked with holding the baby for a brief second, while Mommy put down her coat and got something out of her purse. I took the little peanut in my arms, hoping to bond with her again, to forge a more substantial connection than the last time I saw her and she tugged my hair. After all, I hope to be a mom myself someday, and I’d like to believe that I am naturally one of those people who is just “good with kids.” These hopes were quickly dashed when Olivia started crying instantly. She wasn’t just fussing, either, she was really, truly crying, and her screams just got louder and louder, until mommy finally rescued her from the tall blonde lady who it seemed was taking her hostage. As I passed the baby back to Tanis, she made an apologetic comment about the baby being “a real pill today” and given to crying if “anybody besides mommy tried to hold her.” But I knew what time it was: Olivia was letting us know that she doesn’t really like blondes. In her opinion, they’re unfamiliar (mommy is a brunette and daddy is bald) and they’re scary. Hey, at least she’s honest.
But could there be a more perfect test than another encounter with baby Olivia, just minutes after Jason had finished dying my hair brown? Olivia was one of the first people I encountered as a brunette last month. She, mommy and daddy were at the restaurant, dropping off mommy off for work, and were just about to say goodbye when I walked in. Both Tanis and Adam acted appropriately shocked—they gasped, their faces lit up, and they said, “oh my god, Kitty, your hair! I like it!” They looked at me with wonder as they tried to make sense of the new Kitty.
Olivia, who is almost walking now, was also quite intrigued. Tethered to her mom with one hand, and pointing at me with the other, she made her way across the room on her little 16 month old legs (with surprising speed.) She walked right up to me (with mom’s help, of course), and was undeterred when I waved and knelt down to say hi. Instead of screaming, or looking at me with her usual mistrust, she giggled and smiled, as if to say “what’s up.” She then reached up to me with her right hand, and let me hold her hand on the one side as mom held on to her left hand, and we walked around the restaurant. We went on a little adventure, all around the front bar area of 647 and back into the narrow row of tables that stretches back in front of the kitchen line. The baby wanted to keep going, but just as we were making our way to the further back corner, daddy came over and told Olivia it was time to go.
About a week later, Adam came into the restaurant for dinner. We didn’t really talk because I was kinda busy, but as he was passing me on his way to the bathroom, he tilted, smiled, and said: “You know what Kitty? I think I agree with Olivia. I think she’s right—I think I like you better as a brunette.”