That is what my sweet girl, age 5, had to say to pre-k friends yesterday and I can’t get it out of my head. Before I explain, just know I’m truly getting a mommy’s crash course in a lot of “stuff” I’d thought she be exposed to later in life from talks of boyfriends and girlfriends (yes real convos 4-5 years old have 😩) to asking who is the leader at my work (loved she is thinking like this!) to now her hair being touched. What may seem like a small playground interaction, really could have big implications on her self esteem and self awareness if I don’t address it now and respond properly.
Back to her hair. I was doing Mia’s hair this morning when she finally told me why she didn’t want to style her hair the way I was doing it. We had a super quick wash day at 7 p.m. on Sunday and moms of curlies already know that is a big no-no to start this process an hour before the kids go to bed. To detangle (see previous blog), co-wash, deep condition and style in an hour is asking a lot! Yet, it was the only time I had to spare for her hair and it HAD to be done before school (my kids like to play in the sand so 😳 um yeah).
Anyway, the result of our compressed wash day routine was a part down the middle of her head with two glorious curly ponytails on each side. No time for protective styles and braids and fun designs. Simple, easy and beautiful. She wore it like that on Monday. So when Tuesday morning came around I proceeded to touch up the same style and put new ribbons in her hair. When I started to grab the brush, she said “Mommy, I thought we’re gonna make a new style today?” I replied “Oh I’m so sorry baby girl we needed to do that last night because we don’t have time this morning. Let’s just do the same style we had yesterday because it looks so cute. I will do another style you really like tonight.” That’s when she revealed her friends kept touching her hair the way I had it.
Touching her hair? I didn’t think I heard her right. Did it really start this young with the curiosity of black hair? She said “Yes, they were touching my hair. I kept telling him to stop but they wouldn’t and then I said I was going to tell the teacher if they didn’t stop and they said OK we won’t do it anymore but then they kept doing it.” Poor kid, these are her friends so she didn’t really want to tell her teacher or me. I’m sure she was so confused. 🙁
Realizing we were talking about four and five-year-olds, I assumed the reason they wanted to touch her hair was because she typically wears her hair in ponytails and braids. And on this day it was in two beautiful, curly ponytails with natural big volume. What upsets me is not necessarily that they touched her hair because they are kids and don’t know better. My concerns center on the fact that I know their actions immediately made her feel different and it was causing unwanted and unmerited attention. I’ve often picked up on clues that she wants her hair to be a little simpler when she said things like “mommy can we pull my hair back in one ponytail?” I’ve not straightened my tresses in almost two years because I want her to see that my hair is just like hers.
This whole scenario went down like 15 minutes before we had to leave so I quickly twisted two braids on each side of her hair and kept telling her she is blessed because she can wear it down or in braids and look beautiful. So that’s where we are now. Will blog soon about our next steps to build confidence in her curls, talk her through a future encounter (because this is just the beginning of the rest of her life) and think of tips for other parents in this position. Meanwhile PLEASE share any tips or insight on this scenario and ways to continue a Curly Courtship. ❤️