How can I begin to describe the joy and pride I felt when I finally got a chance to comb my daughter’s hair without dreading her crying and wincing? How about the feeling of finally ending the torment of constantly devising a strategy in my mind about how to pounce on her? Well…Priceless! I couldn’t be happier really, and I’ve no doubt that she would agree with me on any given day. Sure, now we fight over the comb, mhmm…yep: Now she always wants a chance to stare into the mirror and do her thang. Go on baby, mommy doesn’t mind.
Where’s this coming from? Well, a bunch of us ladies held a dialogue on Facebook a while ago; a friend from varsity who is a mother of two posed a question as to why people relax their children’s hair. No, rephrase, she asked why women are crazy enough to do such a horrid thing to their kids. So, I’m pretty certain she had a disgusted look on her face while typing away that question and perhaps punching the keypad just a tad harder for effect. I felt quite relieved that she did not pose the question to me in person because I think I would have had to run for cover. Seriously.
I knew I had put myself in the line of fire when I admitted to having relaxed my three year old’s hair at some point. In fact, I was almost branded a bad mother. My defence was that combing her hair had become a nightmare for both of us; while I tried to brainwash her into thinking the comb wasn’t actually her enemy-although it may hurt some- she would be eyeing the closest exit. I mean, go on…go on and tell that to someone who is less than a metre tall and has curly hair (read: coarse/bantu hair).
Nevertheless my defence fell on deaf ears. Frankly, I thought this woman o iketsa betere simply because she’s coloured and neither her daughters nor she have had serious hair woes. No, the closest she has come to curly is with the gerry curl. I reckon she is very fortunate but at this rate I doubt she will ever fully understand the politics of African hair. I heard a radio jock quip on his breakfast show some time ago about how beautiful Batswana women are. He further joked that however, we have the toughest hair out there. Laughs. Maybe he’s got a point?
For the mere fact that I grew up with hair that was very stubborn, I understood my daughter’s frustrations. Although I don’t remember being quite as squeamish as her and having had quite a good relationship with the comb, I still empathise with her. I don’t comb my hair anymore since it’s in locks now. That was purely by choice (and lack thereof) because no matter how much I straightened it, I could never get my hair to look as fine as my sister’s. It completely had a mind of its own, so I gave in.
Though I had reservations, I decided to relax her hair though we would struggle with the maintenance thereafter because children aren’t adults; they don’t care much about staying clean. Play is standard. So I cut it off a few times before we finally got it right because I also wanted my girl to have colourful bows on her head and not to be constantly bald, nah. I can’t say I don’t cringe when I see a pre-scholar spotting a weave, wig or other complicated hairstyle at the mall and I concur it is very cruel and selfish for mothers to go to such extremes. I don’t think I’ve gone to the extremes by relaxing my daughter’s hair and allowing her to enjoy simple things like combing her hair. Quite simply I reckon I have emancipated her.
She still has ample time to grow and decide what she wants to do with her crowning glory, but for now I call the shots.