Purple Hair and SPD

The other night it happened again. I was pulling my hair back into a ponytail when Lily let out a loud sigh and said “I wish I could have hair like yours.” We’ve been going through this for three years or so. “Princesses don’t have Lily hair. They have Mommy hair.” (Thank you princess Tiana for helping me out there…) We’ve done everything we can to make this little girl love how she looks and be proud of her natural hair. And the strange thing is, she IS proud of it. People tell her “you have the coolest hair!”

And her answer? “I know.”

But this time, I heard her desire for hair like Mommy’s in a different way. So I asked her. “Is it that you want your hair to look like this? Or that you want our hair to look that same?”

“I want our hair to look the same.”

We’ve been going through some adoption stuff around here. It’s the first round of things we knew would come up. She understands that she was someone else’s baby first, and it is really confusing and hurtful for her. And she sees how different we look.

So I had a brainstorm. Her hair cannot look like mine. Not only would that be impossible without a wig, it would look ridiculous. But.

I offered an alternative. “Do you want Mommy to cut her hair short like yours?”

She smiled and said yes.

“What if we could get it even more alike? What if we both got purple in our hair.”


And plans for Purple Hair Day were in the works.

There were several things at play here. First, her desire to match her Mommy. There are certain things I can do to make that a reality. We have a few matching outfits now (handy that Mommy is so short and Lily is so tall. We can shop in the same section.) and she struts around, so excited to be a physically matching team.

Second, I don’t want anyone to think I am downplaying the importance of her own racial identity. When we match, I pick things that she would wear. We do our very best- from the church we attend to the kindergarten teacher I requested- to make sure she is around as many brown people as possible. She wants to look like Mommy. That doesn’t mean I need to help her look “more white.”

Third. The issue of Lily’s hair.

I’ve written about it here.

And also here.

And here too.

It’s a big issue at our house. If you would like to comment on her hair, I beg you to read the links to my previous blogs. And then decide whether you should argue with me. (You probably shouldn’t) It has come up again several times in the past few weeks. A stranger even reached out and touched her hair and said “you need a comb.” Yes. I handled it firmly and swiftly. And then in the car on the way home we practiced saying “you’re a stranger, don’t touch me.”

But last week, we had a breakthrough. Not a breakthrough that allowed us to touch her hair. But one that explained why we can’t.

Lily quite likely has SPD, or Sensory Processing Disorder. I’m still new enough to the world of SPD that my explanation to you might not be any better than a google search. But it can be totally overcome with Occupational Therapy. Her diagnosis makes so much sense. It is the reason she absolutely panics (literally panics. Violent outbursts.) when someone touches her hair in an attempt to cut or detangle it.

There is so much more to SPD and why it is the most likely explanation for so many of Lily’s struggles. She spins. She is physically unable to sit still. All of the pieces fit. But that’s a story for another day. Let’s get back to the purple hair, shall we?

The day Lily agreed to matching short purple hair, I made appointments for us at bumble & bumble. As we got closer, though, she started to feel incredibly anxious about the hair cut. A check-in with her therapist confirmed that we shouldn’t push it. But I decided to follow through.

I sat down in front of Carrie, who has been doing my hair for ten years. I walked into the salon looking like this:


I explained what was happening to Carrie, and asked if my hair was long enough to donate. It was. But only if we cut it very short. Psh. It’s hair. It’ll grow back. Cut it off.

And she did.

I had ten inches cut off taking me from long wavy hair to pixie in a matter of seconds. She shaped it and styled it and it was on to the fun part. The purple.

Meanwhile, Ryan and Lily had been enjoying the city. (And when I say enjoying the city, I mean he drove around in Manhattan traffic while she slept in the back.) But she wanted to see the purple happen, even if she wasn’t having it done herself. So she kept me company while I sat around in foils.

She loved being in the chair and wearing the robe. And I needed to jump on any opportunity that equated salons and getting your hair done with fun.

Then. She told me she wanted purple too. If I could get her to let someone do something to her hair- ANYTHING- I knew the day would be a victory. So I spoke with my colorist who sent over one of the girls with purple spray chalk. And this happened.

What you see there is a happy girl in a chair with a robe and purple hair.

Is her hair still crazy? Yes. Will we need to cut it all off in order for her to grow it out when she’s ready? Yes. But maybe when it’s time for that, she’ll remember this happy time in the chair and not be so scared. I call that a purple hair victory.

And then there was Mommy. I left bumble & bumble looking like this:


Quite a change, yes?

I left there feeing grateful.
Grateful for the excuse to get short purple hair.
Grateful for the staff downstairs who made a huge deal out of Lily’s hair, even though it wasn’t all that different.
Grateful for the receptionist who told me, after watching us for a few minutes, “I’m adopted too. You guys are awesome.”
Grateful that she shared with me her own identity struggles, and that she had them even though her parents were black just like she is.
Grateful for the understanding of why Lily gets so traumatized by have her hair done.
Grateful for the chance to show her that getting your hair cut really short can be awesome.
And grateful that maybe she’ll remember this happy experience when the time comes for her to make the big chop.

I went into all of this thinking whatever, it’s just hair.

But you know what? It turns out purple hair can be pretty important.

Wild Thing, I Think I Love You: Why my daughter can wear her natural hair however she wants

This is my daughter.


She is not-quite five years old. She has a bold, confident, larger-than-life personality. She sings loudly in public. She dances with strangers. She makes friends everywhere she goes.

And she chooses to wear her hair in a way that reflects that.

And this is a problem for people.

Lily’s hair has been an issue for a long time. In fact, it has already been the subject of this blog. Twice. I’ve spoken about it in national media.

It’s a whole thing.

What I don’t understand is why it’s THE thing.

I did an interview with a radio host in Atlanta a few months ago. We had such a nice chat about transracial adoption. It seemed like I had really gotten through to her. (She opened the interview asking why white women adopting black babies was a trend.) And then. The very last thing she said before signing off, leaving me no time to respond, was “but those white women who don’t know how to take care of their daughters’; hair. That just makes me crazy.”

That is what you take away from learning about my family?

Before I go on. If you are new to this blog (hi!) please click the links above where I have talked about Lily’s hair issues before. I don’t want to repeat myself. But there is stuff in there you need to know. Really. Please.

I’ll wait.

(Jeopardy theme song)

Welcome back!

So as you can see, this is not a new issue. And it is exhausting.

Imagine my frustration, then, when someone who is on the fringe of Lily’s life asked me yesterday what “we” are doing about her hair. He is concerned that kids in kindergarten may make fun of her. (Heaven forbid a kid getting made fun of in kindergarten.) He had lots of advice. None of it was new information to me.

Immediately on the defense, I felt the need to go into everything I’ve explained above. I eventually brought Lily into the conversation because she was within earshot and I didn’t want her to overhear people she cares about talking about her like she’s not there.

And then he told her, “Do you know how pretty you would be if you let Mommy take care of your hair?”

And I saw red.

True, he tried to back-pedal a bit, saying that of course she was already pretty, she just would be even prettier…. And it would really bring out certain features… And she would be so pretty…

I got her out of there after an offer for him to go with her to the barber (I kind of want to take him up on it, for entertainment value. But I won’t put her through that.)

Shortly after I got home, I vented on Facebook. Because Moms don’ have afternoon coffee around the kitchen table any more. We have Facebook.

And yikes.

68 comments later and I realized how high emotions run with this topic. Almost all of the comments were supportive in the beginning. Then someone I hardly know told me the teacher was right, and white women need to understand how to take care of black hair. I won’t go into detail because it got really out of hand. I was so SO thankful to have so many friends stand up for my family. (Many of these friends are not white.) It went on for quite a while, and eventually she went back and deleted all of her comments. I am still getting messages of support from friends this morning.


Here are some things I need the world to know.

1. My daughter is not pretty. She is gorgeous. She is stunning. She stops people on the street because they can’t getter over her charisma.

2. She calls her hairstyle “Lily Hair.” She chooses to wear it that way. Just like she chooses to wear princess dresses and sunglasses.

3. I believe she will outgrow the drama surrounding her hair. Just like she outgrew needing to poop in a diaper until she was 4 1/2. (“But WHY won’t she poop on the potty?” people wanted to know. “Have you asked a doctor about it? What about kindergarten?” I felt pretty strongly that she wouldn’t be pooping in diapers in college. One day she decided to be done with it. So she was. And never used a diaper again.) I feel strongly- as a Mom who knows her kid- that this will be the case with her hair. She is one of those kids who needs to decide things for herself.

4. I teach at a special needs school. I am around children with all kinds of special needs every day. Lily does not have very much in common with my students. There is a chance she could have sensory issues. I am looking into it. It would explain a lot. But she is bright. And she is passionate. And she is stubborn. (See “pooping in diapers.”) Given that, if there are issues she doesn’t outgrow, I would be the first person (Dad would be second) to say “let’s talk with someone about this.” Not only am I a teacher, I am someone who suffers from mental illness.

If there is an issue here, we will seek help.

5. I am not interested in teaching her that she needs to wear her hair a certain way so that the kids in kindergarten don’t make fun of her, nor so mommy and daddy don’t get judged by strangers. This is not the sense of self I have chosen to help her develop.

Now that all of that is out of the way.

Why on Earth does anyone care?


I mean, SERIOUSLY seriously.

It is hair. She likes it this way. It is a choice. She is a crazy kid. Her hair fits her personality.


I have been told it needs to be moisturized every day.

Yep. Just getting her hair wet in the bathtub is a two-man process. Getting any sort of product into her hair (wet or dry) is a wrestling match. LITERAL wrestling. Sometimes we don’t have it in us.

I have been told multiple times that it will lock and we’ll have to cut it all off in order to do anything with it.

Yep. Fully aware. This even feels likely to me.

And when that day comes, she will rock her super-short Afro just like she rocks her craziness now.

We have standards. She must be clean. She must be fully clothed when she leaves the house. She must eat healthy foods.

But this is hair. She is a small child. There are more important things in life.

Like friends.


And ice cream.


And helping.


And the animals at the zoo.


If you see these pictures and your takeaway is hair, I humbly suggest that it is your world lens that is out of focus. Not hers.

13 Lessons from 2013

Happy First Monday of the New Year, everybody!

I’ve never been so very into celebrating the new year. Maybe it’s because I’m a teacher. So to me, the new year happens in September. But this year, I’m participating in the reflection. Maybe that’s because I spent two days in the car driving from Connecticut to Alabama to see my sister and nephews. (And three days driving back. See “Why My Daughter is Crying.“) Long car rides are excellent times for reflection. Whatever the reason, I present to you…. Thirteen lessons I learned in 2013.

1. Lists are an excellent way to cover all of the topics I meant to cover over the past few weeks but couldn’t because I was busy with holiday prep and a kid with a broken arm.

2. I really need deadlines and accountability to get any writing done. I made my goal public when I wanted to finish my bookby Easter. And it worked! I need to keep doing that. So hey. Guess what. I’m going to start submitting it to agents next week. Ask me about it, K? I’m also participating in a writing group in NYC. Time to start one of the two books I have brewing in my head.

3. My kid really can’t have artificial food coloring. Not at all. Not even a little bit. I wrote about it here and here. And then I promised a follow up called “I Heart the Kardashians.” And. Well. I think I’ve already established that I’m behind in my blogging. So. Operation No Food Dyes Ever continues to be a success, even through the holidays. Lily just doesn’t want them and won’t eat them, even if Mommy and Daddy aren’t around. (She was offered a blue cookie at school and told her teacher she couldn’t have it. She was given applesauce instead. Thank you, Lily’s school, and thank you Lily.) But we did hit a snag when we realized it was in make-up. That might not seem like such a big deal for a 4-year-old. But she likes to play with lip gloss and chap stick. It’s not that she’s allowed to wear make-up. She likes to play with it. And Chapstick is like, a dollar. So it’s an easy reward. You can imagine the drama, then, when I tried to buy her a cherry Chapstick, thought to check the ingredients, and yep, red dye. UGH. Lily and I then spent the next 45 minutes or so checking the ingredients of every “mouth stick” (her word for it. Cute, right?) at CVS. And they all. Had. Artificial. Dye. And she was getting more upset by the second. (Because she was also tired and hungry.) I get that I could have said sorry, no mouth stick for you, scooped her up, and forced her into the car. But I was frustrated for her. She’s a kid, and this was even more of a restriction than I ever imagined. Finally. FINALLY. I saw the Kardashian Beauty line. I should make it pretty clear that I have very few opinions about the Kardashians in any way. But they made a drugstore line of make-up with natural ingredients. And for that, they have my thanks and respect. (And yes. I know all about Burt’s Bees. They didn’t have any.)

4. Speaking of my daughter ‘s beauty routine. I’ve written and spoken quite a bit about our struggles with her hair. Things got even more complicated when she broke her arm and it was hard to take a bath. But we have discovered a solution that works for her. I call it… THE FAUX FRO. Lily likes to wear the style she calls “Lily Hair,” which is just out and free. It’s really cute and matches her personality. She hates braids and other protective styles. But she can’t wear it free all the time. It would get way too tangled and lock up. So. Here’s what the Faux Fro looks like. Yes, the picture is blurry. Because my kid is never still. Ever.


It looks basically just like her hair is out and loose. But really it’s about 20 small ponytails.
It’s not perfect. But it works for now.

5. The Battle of the Hair is a part of transracial adoption that we “knew about” but couldn’t possibly have understood. It is one of the tough parts. But this year I experienced a beautiful part as I read Lily the book “Born From The Heart.”. I saw it at a bookstore by chance, and a few minutes later was crying like an idiot. I bought a copy for Lily, one for a good friend of hers who is adopted and had a birthday coming up, and one for each set of young cousins. I read it to Lily when I got home that night and we had the following conversation.

Lily: Did he come out of her belly?
Me: No he came out of someone else’s belly which makes him…?
Lily: Adopted! Oh! I was born in YOUR heart!
Me: That’s right sweetheart. You sure were.
Lily: I wish you could have a baby in your belly.
Me: You know what? Me too. Some mommies just don’t have babies in their bellies. But it’s ok, because I have you.

“Born From the Heart.” Go buy it.

6. And speaking of adoption and never having carried a baby in my belly. I am realizing more and more that baby showers and pregnancy announcements are still difficult for me. They might always be. And I am trying to give myself more grace in that. You might have a friend who has struggled with infertility. Maybe that friend eventually became a parent through adoption. Her difficulty with pregnancy announcements and baby showers doesn’t mean she doesn’t recognize that she is a mother now. And she doesn’t need you to explain to her thar she is a mother now. Please just extend her the grace I am trying to extend to myself.

7. And speaking of extending grace to myself… I have been attempting to fly with Flylady for seven or eight years. Sometimes I feel like I really am flying. And sometimes, I am such a mess I can only describe myself as grounded. A few weeks ago I had one such grounded morning. I needed to take Lily to school and there wasn’t any clean laundry and there was nothing to pack in her
Iunch and I couldn’t find anything to wear myself and I was tripping over things and I was just a mess. And I cried.

I’ve been trying to figure out how this happens when Flylady’s methods are so clear.

But I know the problem.

I am a perfectionist.

It’s part of my depression. An all-or-nothing attitude. But that doesn’t mean I have to give in to that attitude.

I am tired of hurrying. And. I am tired of things needing to be perfect. In 2013 I realized that I need to Keep Calm and Stick to the Routine. And in 2014, that’s what I intend to do.


8. And speaking of depression… One thing I’ve learned in the first few months of having this blog is that I generally get the most hits when I write about depression. (Well, depression and the Marching 110.) This tells me that I need to keep writing about depression. Not because I am trying to get more readers (although that’s always nice!) but because people must need to read about it. I find it interesting that people are often reading those posts in particular late at night. (Isn’t technology neat? The fact that I even have that information just blows my mind sometimes. But don’t worry, I don’t know WHO is reading my blog! Just which posts are being read.) Night time can be tough for people with depression. I will keep writing about it. And if you are a person with depression reading this right now and it’s late- go to bed.

9. And speaking even more about depression…. My Facebook friends know that we had a ridiculous battle with our apartment management a little while ago over our cat. We got it worked out, and I made an Epic Stories video. And I never posted it. I speak at the end about making a video the following week for Christmas. Whoops. Never happened. But here it is. My Epic Story about Dexter and how he is now a Certified Emotional Support Animal. Card-carrying. Literally? Yes. (Well, no. He HAS a card. But he doesn’t carry it. Cuz. No thumbs.)

10. And speaking of my cat. He bites. Not often. But sometimes when he gets spooked. And this is apparently a problem, if it is a bad enough bite. You can read all about that here.

11. And speaking of going to the doctor. It turns out it’s important to find the right one. When Lily broke her arm, we saw the doctor that was suggested to us at the ER. He had no idea what to do with a four-year-old. He was honestly, legitimately confused that she wouldn’t be still while he set her arm. “Why didn’t he get someone strong to sit on her?” -Every parent I have talked with since. (And, incidentally, this is exactly what the pediatric guy did.) It’s amazing how we just trust doctors because they know things we don’t. But. As my 9th grade biology teacher pointed out. You know what they call doctors who just barely make it? Doctor. From now on, major research will be done before any of us see any medical professional.

12. And speaking of seeing medical professionals. Our family does not have health insurance. I’ve written about it a whole bunch. It is not a long-term plan. We were covered by the clinic at Greenwich Hospital until this past September, when we discovered that we will now “make too much.” Since we were dropped from the clinic, Mommy got a cat bite and Miss Lily broke her arm. Because that is how these things work. We are now eligible for affordable coverage (like, a third of what it would have been) through the Affordable Care Act. I understand parts of it are a mess. But at its core- the part where it offers coverage to people like us- it may save our lives. I really REALLY have trouble finding political fault in the idea of the ACA itself. Sorry I’m not sorry. You can post as many political memes as you like. Just remember. When you’re talking about “those people,” you’re talking about me.

We did have insurance for a long time. I wrote about the peace of mind that we used to have. You can read my feature here.

13. And speaking of being featured in the media. I’ve been really fortunate in the past few months to have tons of media exposure. My lesson in this? It is both awesome and super scary. Some of the forms of exposure makes me feel more….exposed… than others. But I get responses to all of them that they helped someone. So Imma keep doing it. (Yep. I said Imma. It’s to balance the fact that I spent so much time on my list making it lead from one subject to the next to the next. That took a lot of work. As a reward, I get to say Imma.) Some of the exposure has been so exposing I haven’t even posted it. But you can see all of it in one place on my News page. 🙂

Epic Stories, Episode 1:Dancing with the Fox

I started my day by watching “Coffee Chat,” a video blog. by Hannah Bunker. I was inspired.

This week has been insane. I have so many things I want to get to. Rooms to clean and blogs to write and adventures to go on. But an accident Monday night changed my plans.

I decided the only way I could clear my head was to tell my story. I know it’s something that happens every day. But I’m exhausted. So here it is.

By the way, I mention Hannah’s tshirt sale. Here’s a link to buy a shirt and help her out!

And now….. (Drumroll….) The first episode of “Epic Stories.” Enjoy. 🙂


H is for Hair


I have really good hair. It grows freakishly fast and it’s straight when I straighten it and it’s curly when I curl it. I can wear it down or pull it into short pigtails. (They’re short because I donated a bunch recently) I get expensive haircuts and I haven’t dyed it in 8 years. I’m really picky about my hair. It’s one of my best features.

Lily’s race is a mix of Black, Latina, and White. (In descending order by percentage.) I knew when we decided to adopt outside of our race that hair would likely be an issue. I knew I’d have some learning to do, and I was ready to accept the challenge.

What didn’t occur to me was how my hair and my feelings towards it would affect Lily. Nor how my feelings towards her hair would affect me.

When we got Lily she was twelve days old. Her hair was slick and curly. Throughout her first year the curls got tighter, starting in the back and working their way towards the front. By her first birthday she had the cutest afro you’ve ever seen. So we let it grow out that way. Or… we tried to.

For the next two years we managed her afro the best that we could. I would trim it at home, and a few times we took her to a kids’ salon where she could sit in a car and watch a movie. It looked cute most days. But we knew it was tangled- badly tangled- at the roots. And on days when it didn’t look so great, we felt judged. Sometimes strangers would even stop us. Did we need help with her hair?

Now, my feelings towards these strangers and whether this is appropriate is a whole other blog. Or series of blogs. (I don’t stop strangers who put their kids in dorky outfits and ask if they need help with fashion. And I don’t stop strangers whose kids don’t sing on key and ask if they need music lessons. I understand it’s not a perfect comparison as there are major culture ties with Black women and hair. But still. Keep your opinions to yourself, total strangers.) But the point is that something needed to be done, and we knew it.

Her tangles weren’t for lack of trying or caring. But Lily is tender-headed. How could we possibly work through those tangles to pull it back into any other style? We couldn’t imagine getting her to sit without writhing and screaming.

Enter our good friends from church, who explained that we wouldn’t do it without writhing and screaming.

They came over one Sunday afternoon, armed with cupcakes and more hair products than I have ever seen. And the four of us got to work. We worked for four or five hours. We worked until we were all exhausted. We worked until Lily started screaming for help. “Grandma! Grandpa! JESUS!”

And we made it to about the front of her ears.

That was nearly a year ago. Since that day, Ryan and I have looked at the whole… hair thing… in a new light. We learned that we have to hold her down. We learned that she will scream. We also learned that eventually we won’t have to hold her down, and she’ll stop screaming. (Last Sunday she sat for four hours. We would have bought her a pony had she asked.)

And four days ago we finally got all the tangles out.

There have been some crazy hair styles along the way. Pony tails in just the front with tangles in the back. Twists on just one side of her head. Hair sticking out in all directions. And it’s not that we thought these styles were OK. Or that we didn’t care. We were trying.And she lost a good hunk in the back that just couldn’t be saved. Not that she has bald spots or anything. It’s just much shorter there. Fortunately we can cover the spots with pony tails, and we can keep it detangled as it grows back.

So we’re learning about her hair and how to take care of it. We’re getting much, much better. And she’s learning that it’s a lot of work to keep her hair pretty. And she’s learning to be patient. And she’s learning to sit still. And she’s learning that she’ll probably get a lot of treats if she just stays calm.

But what we haven’t learned yet is how to deal with the emotional issues that come with having different hair. Both hers, and mine.

For her, it has come up twice. About a year ago she was playing with my hair. And then she looked sad. And she said “princesses don’t have Lily hair. Princesses have Mommy hair.” Fortunately I was able to find “The Princess and the Frog” in a hurry and pop it into the DVD player. I showed her how Tianna (as a little girl, anyway) has hair just like hers. And she was immediately placated.

And then yesterday, I was wearing pigtails. Not because it’s age-appropriate, but because I was running around and needed it out of my face. She asked if we were going to put her hair in pigtails, too. We told her we would. And we did. And she cried.

“NOOOOOOOOO! I want them like YOURS!”

I didn’t know how to explain that her pigtails couldn’t be hanging from the back of her head in two sleek curls like mine. All I could tell her was that we had different hair, that I loved her hair, that she was beautiful. I reminded her that everywhere we go people comment on her awesome hair. (Which is unique in our uber-white town.) She eventually settled down. But it broke my heart.

And then there are my own issues with her hair. I don’t want to feel judged everywhere I go. I don’t want to have to worry if we can run to the mall because we didn’t get very far in the detangling process the night before and her hair looks crazy today. I don’t want to wish I could explain myself to strangers who look at me with judgement. I don’t want to try to convince Lily to wear a hat, because I don’t ever want her to pick up my discomfort and make it her own.

There are tons of blogs out there about taking care of Black hair. There are even blogs written specifically by White women who adopted Black children who are learning to take care of their hair. And they’re really helpful

But what we don’t talk about much is how we deal with the learning curve. I may need to discuss it more here, in fact. Because I’m learning. But I make a lot of mistakes. And I need support in that.

Please Don’t Give Me Advice About My Daughter’s Hair

Today in Blog Challenge Land…

It’s Whiney Wednesday.

It doesn’t feel right to whine today. Not on a day when we celebrate coming together and remember the events that happened twelve years ago.


There is something that has been bothering me for quite some time. And since I often write to give a voice to concerns I think others share, it seemed like as good a time as any.

So. Here we go.

Please don’t give me advice about my daughter’s hair.

If you are a person in her life, then you already know that we are working on it.

But if you are total stranger, your attempts to start conversation with “Is she yours? What products do you use?” are just thinly veiled judgements. Even if you do not intend to judge. That is how it is perceived.

Here’s the deal. If you are a total stranger and you give me advice about my daughter’s hair, you are operating under four incorrect assumptions.

Incorrect Assumption #1: You have the right to give me advice.
I see things I want to correct every day. Parents making different choices from the ones I make. Overweight kids drinking soda. Tentative kids with helicopter parents. Kids who clap on 1 and 3. But you know what? It’s none of my business. It’s just not. And my daughter’s hair is none of your business.

Incorrect Assumption #2: Because I am white, and because her hair is often leaving something to be desired, I must not know what to do with hair like hers.

Anyone who thinks this is the problem is welcome to come over on hair night.

My daughter is big for her age. And strong. And strong-willed. And tender-headed. She kicks. And punches. And screams. And cries.

She does it for everyone. White, black, at home or at a salon.

She really- REALLY hates to have her hair done. She has been this way her whole life. We assume she will grow out of it. So far she has not.

So when we’re out and about and her hair is a mess, it’s not because I don’t know any better. It’s becaue this is how far we were able to get this time.

Incorrect Assumption 3: Giving me advice is just trying to help and does no harm.

I wish that was true.

But man. Being a mom is hard. Am I right? I mean seriously.

And on some days, a critical stranger is enough to push me over the edge.

Except when you’re a mom, there is no edge really. You just have to keep going. Feeling like a failure. And keeping it together for your kid. I wouldn’t really put that in the “no harm” category.
And there are days when I know her hair is a mess. And I want to stay home and avoid the potential criticism. Not only is that highly inconvenient, I know my daughter has to feel some of this tension. No harm? Not hardly.

And speaking of my daughter.

As a transracial adoptive family, we have racial issues built in. Some of them have already come up a bit. I am as proactive as the next mom. I’ve gone to workshops and have participated in on-air forums and follow blogs and more importantly I have a community of in-person friends who understand. But I know there will be difficult times.

Frankly, I do not need any of these times to be brought on by my daughter wondering why that lady feels the need to tell Mommy how to do her job.

And finally.

Incorrect Assumption #4: Because I have a daughter of color, all of my values must align with all people of color.

This is a tough one. And I’m hesitant to say it. And maybe I’ll face criticism. And maybe some of you are shocked that this is an issue.

And let’s just acknowledge how crazy that is anyway because all people of color have the same values? Really?

And yet.

My abilities to raise my daughter of color “correctly” has been called into question by strangers. StrangerS. Plural.

I get that hair is a really big social issue for people who identify as black. I want to raise my daughter with pride in herself, and with pride in her gorgeous natural hair.

But sometimes as a mom, as HER mom, I have to say OK. Enough with the hair for today. Go play. Or go to bed. Or go be a kid. Or go focus on something else.

This decision is not out of ignorance. It is out of knowing my child, and having the prerogative-as her mother- to decide what’s best for her.

So. The next time you see me at the mall and you feel the need to start up a totally nonchalant no-harm-done conversation with me about hair products, don’t be surprised if I look at you like this.


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