I remember when Madison, 7, was an infant and I was learning to comb her hair. Like most babies, her head was covered in soft, wavy curls that gave me the false hope it would stay this way forever. Of course, the curl grew tighter and developed a texture with which I was unfamiliar. Madison had so much hair that I had little choice but to learn how to do it. I used to have my partner, Kim, hold her while I parted and combed, creating a headful of little pony tails. We then moved to the high chair where I could confine her movement while still having access to her entire head. When she became a toddler, we learned to turn on a movie and I would sit on the floor with Maddie in my lap. Sometimes I had to leg wrestle her to make her sit still, but you do what you have to in the name of good hair.
Fast forward to 2010 and I am faced with another squirmy, tender-headed, defiant two-year-old who does not like to have her hair combed. I tried the high chair and that didn't work. I tried having someone hold her and that didn't work. I tried leg wrestling and that didn't work. I tried having her watch me comb the hair of her sisters and that didn’t work. How was I going to comb this child's hair?
Is popcorn a magic elixir for hair-combing peace?
It’s not like I could not comb her hair. That isn’t an option in my house. I have listened to so many other white mothers of black children tell me they will not force their daughters to have their hair combed. I completely understand that it seems like cruel and unusual punishment to white parents to make their children submit to the process of combing and parting and styling, but it is absolutely necessary. My children will have this hair for the rest of their lives and this is what it takes to maintain their beautiful curls. Like it or not, it has to be combed. Trust me when I say there is nothing more embarrassing than leaving the house with your daughter’s hair unkempt and you have to face the shame and ridicule of every person of color in your community. I don’t want to call any more attention our little family than necessary. So, back to my two year old. I need a new trick. What would it take to get her to sit still while I create a handful of puff balls?
POPCORN! The magic word is popcorn! Morgan will sit for as long as it takes to comb her hair so long as we feed her popcorn, which is much better than the dark chocolate M&M's we initially tried in a pinch. The peace has returned to the valley of my home on Sunday nights. There is no more screaming, whining, or struggling. And Morgan does just fine, too.
So for all you pink parents out there looking for the secret to styling your child's hair, look no further than your pantry and give ole Orville Redenbacher a try!