As a baby sitting on my mother’s knee, my big brother splashes loudly in the back and flicks water at me. A jealous big brother who gets the sharp end of our mothers’ tongue. She turns her attention back to me, a fuzzy face smiling, whispering, soothing and safe. I am lying on my tummy and the sweet cloying smell of Johnson’s baby powder fills the air, the tiny dust particles tickle at my nose, inviting a sneeze. I am cocooned, warm and gurgle with an innocent happiness. My mother gently traces her fingers across my back, following a swirling, twirling path, her touch as light as a butterfly kiss. My eyes grow droopy, yet I battle to keep them wide open, not wanting the tickles, and yet it is that which puts me to sleep within seconds.
As a mother I stroke my baby son’s back, as soft as silk, tracing those same swirling, twirling paths. His head is a cap of thick black as night hair which will lighten to a dirty blonde as he gets older. Talcum-dust motes float between us and I hear the gentle snores of my son’s slumbers and the moment I stop the tickles; he objects softly with a moan.
As a grandmother, I am introduced to my granddaughter, seconds old, pressed against the warmth of her father’s chest. The same cap of black-as-night hair which will turn golden and grow to waist length. I smile as he traces his fingers across her tiny back, cradling her tiny form. She snuggles deeper into his neck, as if she has always known him.