Once in high school I had a guy think it was funny to ask why I had pubic hair on my head. Everyone laughed including my friends. I was 14. I was no longer friends with the ones that laughed.
Once I had a guy tell me we couldn’t continue to see me because, “girls with curly hair are crazy”. I didn’t laugh. I didn’t think I was missing much.
In grade school kids thought it was funny to see how many pencils or paper wads they could hide in my super long, thick curly hair without my knowledge. To be honest, which is all I’m good at, I lost bobby pins in there for days but when people did it as a joke I wasn’t laughing.
I could go on but I think you get the idea. Kids are mean and cruel and they pick at anything they think is different or anything to get you upset. My first name is Joy. Imagine kids singing “Joy to the world” all year at you. I wore glasses. Imagine kids calling you “four eyes”. No one is exsempt from such behavior.
The first time I remember my daughter upset about her curly hair was head start. She was four. She came home and simply said, “I’d rather have hair like Kimmy”. My response was, “that’s never going to happen sweetheart. You get what you get because that’s what the good Lord gave you.” She was distraught. Looking back and knowing her now it’s possible another kid drew attention to her and made her feel bad but she chose to just tell me it was her that wasn’t happy. We settled on a much shorter hair cut and she never mentioned it again.
Years passed and her hair became thicker and curlier and one day she came home and asked what the “N word meant”. My sweet angle faced child said that word that to my knowledge she’d never heard before. I explained it was not a nice word and it was not a word we used. She asked why a boy said she “has an Afro like a….”. You get the idea.
Having hated my own hair growing up and then realizing it’s ok. It’s ok to not iron my hair and it’s ok to be different and it’s ok to accept how I am and just make peace with your hair. I preached a similar gospel to my daughter. “There are bigger things to worry about in life than your hair. ITS JUST HAIR and tell that kid your hair is awesome and his personality sucks.” So on and so forth. Lots of smarty pants comebacks and things that I thought were clever. I don’t think she thought they were clever.
Last fall when school started she begged for a chemical straightener and new flat irons and things. We got her everything she needed for straight hair for her Christmas gift. She backed out after when I told her it was time consuming and sorta smelly. We did cut most of her hair off and she loved it. Three days later she came home and sobbed and claimed I’d ruined her life. I assume someone said something at school and she wasn’t talking about it. Drew is great at bottling feelings and spewing them out later in a twisted way that makes no sense to those who do not think like like her. Note here if you have a child that is a spectrum kid expect to really struggle with decoding feelings at teenager age.
Wait. If you have a kid -period- expect to struggle with decoding feelings at teenager age.
Anyway. Last week Drew came home and begged for a chemical straightener again. It is against my curly hair beliefs but I think she wanted to not look so much like me and to resemble her own person. I tried to talk her it of it to no avail. I made an appointment with my aunt who owns a salon and Saturday we took the plunge. Two and half hours later she was all straight. My aunt held up wonderfully as Drew has enough hair for three heads. As against this as I was to see her sly grin when she looks in the mirror has made me quiet happy. Suddenly she’s talking to me about boys and stuff. I have to admit as hard as it is to teach her to do her own hair she talks to me when I do it and it’s kinda nice.
Today I thought about all I’ve been through in the last two years to be who I want to be. Weight loss, workout after workout, recently a major surgery that I’m still recovering from, I’v lost pieces of myself and gained things I never thought I’d have. I see that I can’t blame her for wanting to change. After all, it’s just hair and there are bigger things in life to worry about.