When Jameson first came into our family, I remember listening to some podcasts about hair and skin issues in transracial adoption, and in those podcasts, there was one question that came up each time that baffled me:
How do we tell people not to touch our child's hair?
Well, that's ridiculous, I thought. Why does it matter as much? What's the big deal with that? At the time, I was holding a brand new baby and it was so common and easy to run your hand across their head not giving a second thought. The question made me think about how I had just played with a little girl's hair at church on Sunday, too... was that wrong? Why would they make such a big deal out of touching a kid's HAIR? I wondered. It seemed a little nit picking to me, honestly. People were touching my newborn's hair right and left and it didn't bother me in the least.
But as Jameson's growing, things are different now. I get it. Hair touching is becoming more awkward the older he gets. Somebody came up to him at church this morning (I don't even remember who it was) and ran all five of their lanky, fingers through his hair and to my own surprise, I cringed inside and wanted to pull Jameson away.
I'm that person now! Leave my kid's hair alone!
You can think I'm crazy, but I think it bothers me more now because of all the effort I am trying to put into understanding and styling his hair! When you grow up in the black community, you're naturally around black hair. It's part of your culture.
Not so for this white mama. This past trip to the salon left me hanging my head. I'm trying, really I am. But from figuring out moisturizing to detangling to washing to styling to creams vs. butters, and so on, I've got so much to learn. I thank Jesus for my black friends, students, and youtube videos that are helping me learn how to care for kinky curly hair.
So when you approach my son and immediately take your fingers haphazardly to Jameson's hair, as in the motion of scratching his scalp, do you realize you are literally UN-DOING everything that I just worked SO hard to moisturize, detangle, define, and tame down!
Now don't get me wrong. I'm still not bent out of shape about this that I'm going to confront you or cast heaping coals of judgment upon you if you touch my son's hair. :) (The advice given on the podcast was to politely ask the people in the moment not to touch his hair. I'm not ready to go that far. Yet.) I'm going to give you credit-- you most likely don't even know what you're doing. You probably don't think twice about it- you see a kid, you touch their hair, no matter who it is.
But I would like to use this post as somewhat of a public service announcement to inform the world that my son's hair, as exotic as it may seem, is not public property to satisfy one's curiosity. It's ridiculously difficult to manage as it is, so leaving it alone is definitely the best and most respectful decision you can make.
If this is news to you... like it was news to me!... now you know. :) Please know you're obviously welcome to touch my child appropriately in other ways: rub or pat his back, give a high five, ask to hold him, etc.
But I ask that you leave his mini fro to me and his hairdresser, please. :)