First Haircut

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As a Leo mom who is still technically a licensed cosmetologist in the state of California, I love Tariku’s hair long. But my fantasies of him looking like the newest member of the Jackson 5 have been at war with my dread of the daily battle to detangle. So we decided that we’d just take a tiny bit off the ends and hope that made it easier to comb through.

I’m not sure what traumatized me most about the experience. First, I showed up at the salon and was told by the stylist (after having cancelled on me last week) that she was running behind and I’d have to wait an hour. An hour. With my two-year-old. Needless to say I was heading out the door when the owner walked in and offered to do it. I threw caution to the wind and let her cut it. Tariku liked her and she did an okay job, though when I pick it out he looks a little bit like a lopsided bonsai. Plus it’s shorter than I would have liked.

T was a trooper and he was just happy that I brought his muppets DVD. He LOVES Miss Piggy. He doesn’t care one way or the other about his hair. I, however, have been randomly crying ever since.

I have to remind myself that it’s not the end of the world and that childhoods are chock-full of bad haircuts. But it was so hard watching her cut his hair and thinking that it had been a part of him for his whole life.

It’s also hard to explain the pressure that accompanies being a white mom dealing with black hair. It’s a loaded subject and everyone has an opinion. I have actually been stopped in the street by a barber who offered to cut it for me. I thanked him but told him that I’m kind of a hippie and my kid is going to go to hippie schools where no one is going to tease him because he has an afro.

As a mom, how can you always know that the choices you’re making are going to foster a positive self-image? I just want him to love his awesome hair. I want him to keep loving all of himself as much as he does today. I’m not exactly sure how to foster that kind of self love, but I’m committed to trying.

10 Responses to 'First Haircut'

  1. Kristen says:

    I hear about – about getting a little emotional about haircuts, AND about the pressure of being a white mom. Sometimes I feel like I can’t independently make decisions about my own kids’ hair. Like being an adoptive mom requires me to submit to the opinion of others. Not sure what that’s about but it’s there.

  2. mindy says:

    “I thanked him but told him that I’m kind of a hippie and my kid is going to go to hippie schools where no one is going to tease him because he has an afro.”
    -I love this comeback and respect the fact that you were able to blurt this out impromptu!

  3. Lesley says:

    I think that you are a wonderful mother and no matter what you decide your little boy will be just fine. I haven’t been reading your blog long but with the few that I have read it is apparant that you love your son very much. He needs love. Everything else will fall into place. Have a fabulous day!

  4. Dee says:

    If you want to maintain his length while making his hair more manageable or even just having different style options, consider corn rows. As a cosmotolgist, even if you don’t know how to do them, I’m sure learning will be easy for you. Find someone to teach you, maybe a former cosmotology classmate?

    Also, for just plain manageability (once it grows back more), if you just make two or four braids in his hair before he sleeps, when he wakes and you undo the braids, they will be easy to come out.

    I have similar hair, and thats what I do during my phases when I feel like going natural- just part down the middle, separate into two pony tails, the braid the tails. I use elastics (just basic black ones from Sally’s or even Walgreens/CVS) to tie the top and the bottom of the tail- cuz otherwise the braid would unravel. And when I get up I have a super easy comb-thru. If I don’t do that, it’s pain and alot more time added to the process.

  5. Dee says:

    PS I meant to say, and i hate to say it but it’s true: a black barber would have given you what you wanted! They understand taking off just a little because you want the afro, and if they cut it short it will never be lopsided, unless he’s a bit too old and a little blind! Sometimes black female salons have someone there who can cut, but men do it better, I used to go the men’s shop when i was keeping my hair short and natural, they knew better than the women how to make it cute on me.

  6. Chris says:

    I’m not a mom, so I can’t relate, but you know I dig that you’re concerned about fostering a positive self image in T. I hate to admit to watching Tyra, but I did catch a show once that was mom’s doing crazy (beauty) shit to their kids. Tyra was clearly in favor of a natural approach, but a lot of the mom’s were transferring their negative self-image issues to their kids. They were relaxing/perming their hair and/or they were using bleaching products on their skin. What they had to say about why they were doing it was really sad. I’m glad you don’t feel compelled to do that kind of stuff to him. The lack of it will at least ensure that he doesn’t grow up thinking you feel there’s something wrong with the way he is naturally.

  7. Tamara says:

    I had a friend tell me I needed to read your book. I am almost finished with it. They said that it reminded them of me. Not that we had the same life but we sure did/do have a lot of the same feelings. Your book has made me realize a few things about myself that I have been trying to ignore. My paranoia, my hurt, my anger, my shroud of darkness. Anyway thank you for your book I feel it has finally helped me to want to help myself, in the places I really need to help. Now if only I could learn to write as well as you and make my own book to pass on the helping favor!

  8. admin says:

    Thanks for your suggestions and commiseration, y’all! I’m definitely learning to braid.

  9. Leslie says:

    We live in Haiti as missionaries and just last week finished our adoption process. My daughter is 2.5. Her hair grew in as a ‘frohawk’ as I called it – thick down the middle, then out to the sides. BUT, nothing in the back because she rolled her head when she slept. Her hair on the top of her head was about 6 inches long when stretched out and the back was two. There was a definite line where the hair was longer/shorter. A couple months ago I decided to cut it to even it out, and like you said, make it easier to comb. It was emotional for both my husband and I. We are planning on eventually putting her hair in dreads, and then as she gets older she can decide what she wants to do with it. I was wondering how she would react to having much shorter hair, but she LOVED it. Before hand she kept telling me to “take off my hair” which meant take out her braids. I had been thinking the same things as you – this is the hair she’s had from the start. I’m just glad she was happy with it, and it has made caring for it easier.

  10. lindaloohoo says:

    i am a white adoptive mom with a beautiful son from guatemala. his hair is stick straight and grows straight out from his head in all directions and even when it was pretty long, it wouldn’t lay down. so my husband started the tradition of a guy’s day of grooming every few weeks and buzzes it. is buzzes a word? perhaps not. anyway, it’s become this really cute special time for the two of them. but sometimes i do wish monkey could experience long shaggy cool hair. maybe when he’s older he’ll decide the horror of growing it out will be worth it.
    i personally have no style whatsoever, so i’m just grateful he’s not a girl. we’re in the process of adopting again and there is a chance we’ll be referred a girl. oh that poor thing. hopefully she’ll look good in a pixie. or a bowlcut. oh, or a hat.
    your son is gorgeous btw!

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