I’ve learned a lot over the years about combing black hair. It all started when I picked Madison up from day care when she was about 3 months old and, much to my surprise, she had a head full of pony tails. They were the tiniest pony tails I had ever seen! I was amazed her teacher was able to do it. That was the week I started spending time with the teacher after the other kids went home to learn how to manage what she correctly predicted was going to be an incredible mane of hair on Madison’s head. Since then I have learned how to create a dozen or more styles in addition to the daily rituals of maintenance. Whenever I can, I pass along these lessons to other parents through workshops, webinars and quick tips in the grocery store. However, I am not a perfect parent and there are days when I do not practice what I preach.
Yesterday was one of those days. My mother is visiting from Savannah and, at the last minute, we decided to visit a new church on Sunday morning. The church is enormous, a landmark in our suburb of Austin. I have been drawn to the stained-glass window for years. It did briefly cross my mind as we dressed for church that I had not done McKenzie’s hair yet. Madison’s hair looked great, but McKenzie’s was definitely in need of attention. I decided our spiritual well-being was more important than the hair and off we went to worship.
The church was gorgeous and the window I have loved for years from the outside was even more breathtaking on the inside. We sat towards the back of the church in case one of the children made it necessary for a quick exit. From this vantage point, I had a great view of the congregation. I scanned the crowd for families like mine and found none. In a sea of white, I saw only one black face and she was headed towards us. A very attractive, older black woman sat directly behind my family and struck up a lighthearted, friendly conversation with my mother.
The service was nice. I enjoyed the music and especially the personality of the minister. Maybe there would be more black people in one of the other services. All in all, it was a very positive experience. We decided to slip out a few minutes early to avoid the rush on the parking lot. I was walking away with the children when the older lady sitting behind us caught my mother’s arm to ask if we needed help with the children’s hair. Busted.
This sweet, concerned woman sitting behind us had focused only on McKenzie’s hair, totally disregarding the fierce style on Madison’s head. I was horrified! And embarrassed! I didn’t follow my own advice, and I left the house without proper hair. My mother smiled sweetly and listened to all she had to say before patting her hand and saying good-bye with quick message of thanks. It just goes to show we never stop learning.