At the grocery store this morning, Happy and I were picking up milk and broccoli. Walking towards the dairy, a lady who I didn’t recognize hollered, “Oh, that’s BF’s baby, isn’t it?” (Well, she used BF’s actual name but since I don’t even know BF’s actual name anymore, I just remember that she said BF).
“Yes, ma’am,” I answered.
“Oh, he has gotten so big.”
“Yes, ma’am. It’s breaking my heart.”
She was on her cell phone so Happy and I said goodbye and went and grabbed the milk (read: Lactaid).
Carrying Happy and the groceries into the parking lot, she came out behind us.
“I should introduce myself,” she hollered and so Happy and I went and approached her. I introduced myself, she introduced herself- her son grew up with BF- and then she asked a question that just made my day.
“How do you do his hair? I have a little girl that I’ve taken in and she has curls like that, but I am doing her hair all wrong.”
If you are adopting outside of your ethnicity, it’s essential that you educate yourself about skin and haircare needs. African or African-American hair is really delicate and in need of incredible amounts of moisture. Meanwhile, if you mess with the hair too much, you just upset the cuticle (I spent years silently stroking when people who would put their hands in my hair to check out my curls. I know silently stroke when people want to put their hands in Happy’s hair). So strategy for haircare is pretty individualized. There is no one size fits all approach. We did lots of research, talked to lots of friends, adapted from my strategies with my curly hair, and then went through a lot of trial and error to get to the right combination for Happy’s hair. We use four hair products a day on Happy’s hair- two at night and two in the morning- and if we deviate, we can tell. For now, the process we have found works well. And while I might have figured out the process, it is BF who carries out the morning routine everyday while I try to squeeze in an hour of work before he leaves for the day. So, it’s BF with his low-maintenance, never frizzes strawberry-blond hair that he washes (picture my cringe here) with a bar of Irish Spring soap who executes the complicated hair dance on Happy each morning with relative ease. Go BF.
I spelled out our method to my new grocery store friend and then called BF to tell him the compliment his hair skills had been given. The highlight of this whole thing to BF was that an older African-American woman who has parented a handful of kids that BF grew up with was asking him for hair care advice. I think his chest is puffed a bit out today.
A couple hours later, Happy and I hit the gym. While I was working out, I overheard the conversation of two women who were working out next to me. Petite, healthy women, they were trying to get rid of “those last ten pounds” and that strategy involved running every morning and then another two hours on gym cardio equipment inside. When I left the gym, they were each on treadmills, the inclines pitched so high that they were hanging on to the hand grips for dear life. While the scene at the grocery store provided a feel-good for the day, the scene at the gym just made me sad. There are no ten pounds for these women to lose. And here they are, punishing their bodies in the hopes that they might yield obedience out of them. I love a good workout. I believe in living a healthy life. But I never want to punish my body because it does not look a way that I have imagined it should. Because what I imagine is not always possible and punishment is not thriving; truth be told, it is not even living in the moment. It is scapegoating for a moment of imagination that may never come while we continue to chase, leaving everything else that matters to fall away.