I'm not who I was.
We still get it shaped and cleaned up around the edges, but our little man has made clear that he wants to let the majority of his hair grow longer and longer. I have full intentions of letting him grow it and style it how he wants most of the time.
Our boy LOVES his coils. He loves to stretch them out down over his eyes, see how far he can pull them, and watch them bounce back up.
When we initially got his “big-boy” hair cut removing a lot of his length, he cried. He didn’t cry because he had a problem getting his hair cut. He cried because he was super-attached to his “boingies”, but they were gone. He carried with him a degree of anxiety, constantly walking to mirrors and trying to stretch out the length that was no longer there. His heart would sink. And every time after he gets a trim, he heads straight to a mirror to make sure he can still stretch his hair.
For many of you, you may be completely oblivious as to why this is even post-worthy. Because it’s just hair. So let me enlighten you. Most of you find our little man just so incredibly adorable that you get all the heart eyes no matter how his hair is styled. 😍 And who can blame you. 😉
There are so many more examples I could give, but hopefully you get the idea that these references (to what are completely legitimately protective styles for natural hair, worn by folks of all walks of life and having absolutely no indication of one’s behavior or personality) show a problem. And that problem lies within the heart of the person making those statements, not the person wearing the style. They say, “What grows out of your head makes you less-than.” Or “Because your hairstyle isn’t my favorite, you are an inconvenience.” (And honestly sometimes it has nothing to do with one not liking the hair or the person, the statement may be innocently made unaware of it being inconsiderate). Such generalizations reveal one’s own unfounded notions that a particular hair style indicates a particular social problem. And especially if you say such things within earshot of my CHILD, they reveal that you are incredibly irresponsible with your words. Would it be ridiculous and appalling for me to tell you, especially in front of your child, that said child’s short flat hair makes him look like a privileged racist bigot or that her ponytail makes me think of a horse’s rear end? RUDE much? Tactless? Irrelevant? Unfounded? Absolutely.
That was the general explanation.
Here is my child-specific one.
My beautiful brown boy, he isn’t always so comfortable in his brown-ness. When he was a preschooler, he tried to wash his brown off. And not all that long ago when referring to how a friend said they loved his beautiful brown skin, he said he hated it. I can’t tell you how much things like that break this mama’s heart. I hope and believe that he will grow to love his blackness. But I also believe that it will take work, and I wish it didn’t have to. Sometimes it doesn’t really seem to bother him, and sometimes it obviously bothers him a whole lot. I could cry just typing it.
Not so with his hair. The longer it gets, the more he loves it & the happier he is with his appearance. He is confident in it. And although it may be faux pas to invite yourself to touch black folks’ hair, (if you didn’t know this, it falls under a similar category of pregnant bellies. Just because it’s out there and intriguing doesn’t mean you are entitled to touch it), for the most part he is pleased to allow friends to feel his fluffy head of hair. If he’s okay with it, I’m okay with it. (Notice I said FRIENDS. Not strangers. Not acquaintances who may know who he is but with whom he has no real relationship).
The other day a sweet little girl in his class at our homeschool co-op kept picking at C-man’s hair with a smile while repeating, “I just LOVE his fluffy hair!” To which I replied with a thank you, and complimented how pretty her hair is too, but I also encouraged her to ask permission first. Because I want to teach our kids to respect their own bodies and the bodies of others.However, little man as quickly as he could, jumped in there and said, “I like it mom! She can touch my hair! And if there are any fuzzies in there, she can pick those out too.” 😂
I adore how much my child beams gazing at those lovely coils of his. If letting it grow helps to bring my son a smile and hold onto a confidence in how he was made, especially knowing that he isn’t quite yet comfortable in his own skin, I’m going to encourage him to be comfortable in his hair. And I would encourage YOU not to rain negativity on anyone embracing their natural hair, be it afro, cornrow, twists, coils, shave, fade, stick straight or otherwise. It’s just hair. But there is so much more growing beneath the surface than you likely realize and your comments feed what is hidden inside.
Don’t make it poison.
Build each other up.