Thursday, July 24, 2014

white mama at the black salon #3...

Once again feeling my own white-ness, you guys.

Today marked Jameson's third haircut, and it was the first time I took him by myself. 

Being the only white person in a room was no problem.  Everyone in that salon was so warm and welcoming to me when he and I walked in.  

But something about going there was humbling to me.  It was like a reminder to me that Jameson IS different from me, that parts of raising him are not culturally innate.  Though I cognitively know I need the help of the black community ALWAYS for all kinds of reasons, one look at my kid's head today and it was obvious how much I needed their help NOW!  :)   

Hello, my name is Amy, and I'm trying, I felt like apologizing to the whole place as they admired Jameson's cuteness.  

Usually, I have no issues with my confidence as Jameson's mother.  But the minute I step foot in that salon, I can't even begin to count the number of insecurities that begin to wash over me.   What is my DEAL!?!

In that moment, I fear what they're thinking about me.  (I'm sure they're not judging me at ALL, but the voices in my head imagine they're thinking, "She thinks she can raise him??"  I've read about the tough realities in raising black boys to become black men in this society, and I will be the first to tell you I feel ill-equipped...)

I fear what they'll say about me or how hard they'll laugh at me when I leave.  

I feel like even though they're warm and nice and friendly on the outside, I can't ever be truly "in" and accepted.  We're not a white family, and we're not a black family.  We're a black AND white family unit.  And at times that makes us feel out of place, both in all-black and in all-white settings.

I have put off going to the salon for months.  In my mind, we've gotten by just fine.  But as Jameson's hair has gotten more and more unruly for me to handle, I knew it was time for another visit.

And then I wondered, Is this what it feels like for someone outside Christianity to come into the church?

Do they, too, feel as though all eyes are on them?  That they're being scrutinized?  Does coming to church, like going to the black salon for me, make them painfully aware how badly they're screwing things up?  Is it a place that they would feel genuine connectedness, a place where they might even find others who are still in the learning process themselves?

So I'm already jokingly acknowledging my ignorance of Jameson's hair as we're settling into the chair and of course, we have everyone's attention in the entire place.

And the minute the CAPE GOES ON, the crying and screaming from Jameson begins.  Like, he remembers this from several months ago.

Now.  I realize this is a phenomena of ALL children.  Black or white, they all cry when they get their hair cut, right?

But when you're already worried about looking like an idiot, and your stylist very gently and quietly explains to you how to work a comb through the hair, AND you realize your kid is crying partly because you've never actually brushed through the hair ONCE like she's doing because you were afraid you'd hurt him and so it's left his ends a tangled mess?

Yeah.  That's a shining moment.   Meet... me.  The white mama in the black salon.

So Jameson's screaming in my lap like he's being murdered, and I'm trying to remain calm.  I rummage through my purse, looking for a pacifier.  Murphy's Law.  I have nothing.

I spot some soft peppermints and offer them to him.  He swipes them out of my hand quickly, calming down for a minute, but then quickly erupts again.  And again.

We're never going to get this hair cut, I'm thinking.  All eyes are on us.  They're mesmerized and observant.  What do I DO?? I'm so uncomfortable in the moment. 

And then, at some point, Jameson turns around in my lap, hugs me, and lays his little head down on my shoulder for comfort.  The old ladies in the salon sitting under the dryer give a sweet, reassuring grin, and all is calm again.  One of them encourages me, "It's alright.  It takes a long time to learn."  The stylist trims away.

What seemed like an eternity later, this cute little haircut emerged and also some really sticky peppermint hands.


"Breathe, mama," the stylist sensed my relief that it was over.

Then she and I both whipped out our phones to take pictures of Jameson, just as she had done the past two haircuts.  (What stylist does that?...)

Jameson must have felt some kind of remorse for putting those ladies through his screaming, because he walked over to them and serenaded them on his guitar.  They loved it.

You know, I don't know what God was doing giving me a daughter with alopecia and a little black boy with coarse, kinky curls.

I never would have dreamed it.

But hair, no hair, or even dry and nappy hair,
I love these two kids to pieces.

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