Even after three years, Isabella's hair continues to be a big source of stress for me. I know people say "embrace the specialness of African American hair". I have tried but I have failed miserably. I am the kind of mom who has trouble even getting a hair-bow into a ponytail, so there was no doubt in my mind that with Isabella's hair, I was in way over my head (I think there is a pun somewhere in that sentence).
When she first came here from Haiti, her hair was in tiny braids that took three hours to take out. So, I thought she could go natural. But, you still have to condition and kind of comb through her hair everyday or it becomes a tangled mess. Isabella DID NOT want me to touch her hair. She cried and writhed on the ground like I was killing her. She did not want to fix her hair herself. She wanted to roll around in the sand. So, of course, it became a tangled mess and I had to cut it short. I felt terrible about it, especially when African American mothers glared at me like I had cut off her legs or something.
Next, we moved on to dreadlocks. I know why they are called dreadlocks because we both "dreaded" having to twist and pull apart 150 locks on her head every month. So, we cut those puppies off.
Recently we went to a salon had it braided with fake hair. Which, by the way, you are not ever, ever supposed to tell anyone that you are using. Nor are you supposed to ask other people if they are using fake hair. Trust me on this. If looks could kill, I would be dead by now.
The salon insisted I stay with her for the entire 3 hours. Or course, I had Anastasia and little Catherine with me. Have I mentioned that neither of them are super patient?
Also, the cost of the braiding was more than our weekly grocery bill. Guess how long it lasts? Three measly weeks.
So, now we have it short again. But there is one thing I have learned. I may not be African American, but she is my child. When I get rude stares and people comment about how terrible it is that she doesn't have her hair done, I just smile.
"She is beautiful just the way she is" I say.