Monday, May 29, 2017

white mama at the black barbershop: more than hair...

Okay, I'm super embarrassed to show y'all this first picture of my son's hair.

Life has obviously been a little crazy between selling our house and working on the River House, (more on that in a future post!) so as you can see, Jameson's hair has not been our first priority.

I was almost too mortified to take him in ANYwhere, and I really shouldn't have taken him in without washing his hair at home first to help loosen his incredibly tight curls for picking out.

So the barber,
loving his first shampoo at the barber shop
whom we love and have seen before, started working through Jameson's hair with the pick, and I could see Jameson doing everything in his power to hold back the tears.  (As I internally beat myself up...)

At that point, the barber took him for his first shampoo.  (I guess he realized it was a lost cause to get that pick through the boy's head.  Smart man.)
After the shampoo came the buzzers.  (or are they called the clippers? I don't even know...)  And at the back of Jameson's head are the tightest little curls that whatever-it's-called yanks and pulls when the hair gets long.

Jameson couldn't hold it in anymore.  He bowed his head and let the tears flow.  My poor guy.

The barber ran to the back room and rushed back with a chocolate bar for both of my kids.  #barberforthewin

Tear-stained Jameson devoured the bar, and the barber and I continued chit-chatting.  Occasionally he would direct a boisterous question to Jameson, and Jameson (being a shy version of himself) would usually just answer with a soft, enunciated "yes."

Then the barber turned to me each time and imitated Jameson's little voice saying "yes" and laughed to himself.  He said he couldn't believe how "polite" Jameson spoke.

I laughed.  Jameson didn't exactly know how to get his barbershop talk on.

And then that big ol' wave of white-mama-of-a-black-son insecurity hit me, for more than just hair.

My son is going to be teased for how he speaks.  He'll likely be teased for a myriad of things just because he lives with a white family.  He'll have to suffer the consequences for his deficiencies in black culture because of me.

I left that barbershop painfully aware of my whiteness, and of my son's lack of blackness, if that makes any sense.  

I can give my son so much-- food, clothing, a loving home, a family that's crazy about him, lightsabers galore, and even a good haircut-- but there's a big piece missing in every adoptee's life.  
(Especially in a transracial adoptee.)

I can't give Jameson the connection to his birth family.  And I can't give him his racial and ethnic heritage.  

That may not sound like a big deal to some, but Jameson comes from a very strong and beautiful cultural heritage.  Marc and I are always seeking for ways to bring more of it into our life, both for our sake and for his.

Since we have serious cultural limitations, we are praying that some of our dark-skinned brothers might take him under their wing.  I am praying for more racial representation for him in the church.   I want him to have real-life role models that can talk to him about what it means to be black in America.  That may not be something that he feels he needs now, but it's something he'll know he missed out on later. 

You guys, transracial adoption is about SO much more than learning to do hair.  

It's committing to a journey that will literally lead you places you never knew you'd go.  

It's coming to grips with your own insecurities and incapabilities and mourning losses your child doesn't even yet know he's facing.  

It's being willing to give up your comfort and even your people for the benefit of your child.  

It's a path that isn't for everyone.  

It's the most challenging (and simultaneously the most rewarding) thing I've ever done.  And I'm only 4 years in. 

May God give this little white mama the grace to know how to do it well.