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HAIR

Oct
2015
28

posted by on Adoption

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There are many very hard things about adoption. Really, a case could be made that everything about it is hard. It’s totally the hardest thing I’ve ever done in my short life. Some of those hard things are serious and painful. But some of them bring a lot of laughter. The language barrier for example. Like to think back to the fact that I had two children living in my house who literally knew less than 10 words of English is hilarious to me. Anyway, I thought I’d take a blog post to focus on one of the funnier hardships of adoption rather than going all serious and emo on you poor people like I always do.

Hair. You guys. Can we just talk about the hair for a minute? Sit back and relax and grab some tissue (for the tears of laughter, obviously) because Katie Hughes trying to learn how to do black hair is a comedy routine. Let’s reminisce and enjoy my hair journey together, shall we?

So first of all, as any of you who know me can attest to, I have a pretty laid back personality. I am NOT type A. In many ways, I think this has helped me through the adoption, and continues to help me in this nutso life of ours. But in some ways it’s just the least helpful thing about me. I’ll go ahead and say from experience that with specific regard to the hair issue, it’s probably more helpful to be like super duper type A. Like this chick, who clearly adopted a little black girl and made it her mission in life to learn everything there was to learn about her hair. BTW I’ve had this blog recommended to me like 10x in the last 2 years. I watched about 5 of her videos and was like “Yeah, OR I could just hire a professional. Peace out nice type A adoptive mom.”

When we were in Uganda, Eva’s head was shaved. All of the children had shaved heads. This made life much easier for their caregivers in the orphanage.

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What this meant for me is that the entire month we were there I didn’t really think much about Eva’s hair. In retrospect I kind of wish she had had hair then, because I know my Ugandan friends would have taken me somewhere to have it done and at least pointed me in the right directions product-wise. As it was, I had to do nothing, which was fine by me as I don’t think I had the emotional capacity for hair concerns while I was in a constant state of anxiety over things like getting passports from the Ugandan government.

But a few months later I found myself with a little girl who SCREAMED every time I touched her hair. With anything. Comb, pick, brush, shampoo, conditioner, etc. Because her hair was so short I just tried to pick it out every morning which was AWFUL. Oh, FYI, never try to comb/pick out dry black hair. Must. Be. Wet.

After a month or so of the screaming and the crying every morning I started to feel a little desperate and began to approach total strangers about her hair. For example, when I was at a medical office I noted that the receptionist had lovely hair and, being me, was like “Excuse me, my daughter is black and I’m basically a moron and have no idea what I’m doing and you have lovely hair please help me.” Y’all. this total stranger went on her computer, printed out pictures of every product she uses, and told me how to/how often to use each product. I need to go back and thank that girl. I mean, come on. I’m such a weirdo and she was so nice to me.

I then took said pictures to Target, where the girl stocking the shelves in the hair aisle ALSO happened to be black and have lovely hair and I again word vomited all over her and told her my whole story and she helped me find all my products and gave some additional tips. I took my various supplies home, determined to make some progress.

It was at this point that I learned that there is a reason there are A LOT of products out there. Because when it comes to taming black hair, every hair type is not created equal. After this it became my mission to find the right products for Eva’s hair. As it turned out, there were certain things that simply would not work in her hair. However, the problem with this mission was, once again, my laid back personality (see paragraph 3, please). So it didn’t take long for this mom to say “OKAY enough is enough, we need to find someone ELSE to tackle this nonsense.” My mornings were still filled with screaming and I was over it.

Eva’s hair was long enough at this point for her to have extensions braided in. I found a random, very nice lady who did this in her home and she plaited Eva’s hair for the first time. She was so nice and patient with Eva’s…emotions…and we walked away with THIS beautiful ‘do.

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So have I mentioned that the glorious thing about doing this is that it LASTS? Like 4 weeks (or, ahem, if you’re lazy, 6) I was so. happy. 4-6 weeks later I was like, yeah we’re doing that again, and had an appointment to go back. The day I was taking Eva in to have her hair done the second time, I got a text from this lady reminding me that I needed to bring the extensions this time. Oh. Crap.

First, there was the fact that I had no idea where to go. No. Idea. You can’t buy this stuff at Target, guys. Or Costco, or Trader Joe’s. Which are the 3 places I shop. So I sent a facebook message to my friend, who is black, and asked her where to go WHICH WAS SO RUDE BECAUSE SHE WEARS HER HAIR NATURAL AND DOES NOT USE EXTENSIONS but whatever, she was gracious about it even though she, too, had no idea, because of the whole not using extensions because she has beautiful natural hair thing.

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But miracle! I found a place. Which brings me to the second “oh crap” moment which is that, and I am not exaggerating, there are THOUSANDS of different kinds and colors of extensions. I walked into that store and almost laughed out loud. I wandered the aisles for like 5 minutes before I thought, “This is dumb. I’m not fooling anyone in here.” And went and asked yet another person to help me. I don’t know what’s wrong with me but I can’t simply say, “Excuse me, could you help me find Kanekalon braiding hair in black #2?” No, I have to tell my whole life story in order to explain why I am in the store buying black hair extensions. Poor people. I just apologize to all people everywhere for doing this to them. It’s a sickness. I’m sorry.

After making it through my life story the girl knew exactly what I was talking about and HURRAY we had our hair. Whew. Well, Eva had it done again and again it was beautiful. And let me repeat that this girl was so sweet and patient. BUT, she was also a perfectionist. Which meant the hair was perfect but it took between 6 and 7 hours both times. And guys? Just no. Even my laid back self can’t do 7 hours for hair. I just can’t.

After we went the allotted 4-6 (ahem 8) weeks with that hair, I just took it out and left it as a fro for the summer because swimming and I’m not getting hair done only to have it ruined by swimming. And Eva needs to swim. And run and jump and dive and skip and just move constantly all the time. So no hair for the summer.

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When we were back in school and our daily routine again, though, I was in the same boat. Fighting her every day to get it done, all the tears. Thankfully at this point my friend who also has an adopted black daughter told me about her hair girl. Enter Brittany.

Ah Brittany. My knightess in shining armor (yes I made that word up). Brittany is the Eva whisperer. I don’t know how but she managed to do Eva’s hair in an hour (not with the plaited braids, but with this sort of ‘do, but still an hour is FAST).

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She also managed to make Eva worship her even though she made Eva cry. I kind of just stood there dumbfounded when I picked her up and she was jumping around with joy and could not stop hugging Brittany. And then Brittany totally unveiled the mystery that was Eva’s hair drama for me by informing me that yes it hurts to have your hair done but all black girls just learn that that’s a part of life from when they are very young. But Eva didn’t have it done until she was 6 so she was a mega drama queen about it. And she just needed to get used to the fact that this is part of her life.

All this time I kept thinking “There’s no way this should cause so much screaming. Am I really hurting her that badly?” And thanks to Brittany, I have the answer. Yes and no. Yes it hurts. No she shouldn’t scream that much. She just needs time to get used to it.

Brittany not only gets Eva, she gets me. Like when I show up with the wrong hair and she just laughs at me and tells me she’ll just straighten Eva’s hair and I can bring the right kind next time. Or when she has to explain to me that it really is so much easier than I think it is and I really can do certain things myself. And she’s not condescending at all even though she would be entirely justified if she were. All that to say, we love this woman and she is stuck with us foreeeever.

Now Eva BEGS to go have her hair done. Not by me. By Brittany, of course. By now she recognizes that I am terrible at it. She’s been rocking the ‘fro for the last few months because I just keep forgetting to make an appointment and she’s kind of like “MOM. Please get my hair done. This is embarrassing.”

Sorry, babe. I’m a mess. And so are you. We’ll just both be messes together.

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You know that moment when your kid is doing something really defiant or disobedient and instead of calmly correcting and disciplining them you get angry and let your temper get the best of you? No? Ok, think harder then, because we’ve all been there.

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(Arms Akimbo: The scolding, angry mom pose)

Something no one quite prepared me for was this common occurrence in parenting, sinning against one’s own children. I don’t know that anything makes me feel quite so low, quite so inadequate, quite so hideous, as when, instead of teaching my children by example, I display the very thing I’ve asked them not to do. My attention is wanted, and I say “Not now, I’m busy,” in exasperation. The same instruction is disobeyed for the 40th time in one day and I yell, “Just do what I say!!” A fight breaks out between 2 (or more) and everyone gets sent to their room in anger instead of being engaged and trained and disciplined.

I wish these were hypothetical situations for me, but they are all too real. And perhaps they are real for you, too. Perhaps you find yourself wallowing in guilt as you think of the ways you haven’t parented as you should have. And yet it is this very thing, this moment of failure, that can be one of your greatest opportunities as a parent.

Somehow in all the parenting literature and teaching I think we’ve lost the importance of repenting to our own children. Now, don’t get me wrong. Instructing children in the way they should go, when they rise up, when they walk along the way, when they sit down to eat, when they lay down to sleep, this is vastly important (Deuteronomy 6). We are called to it, and it IS indeed vile and disappointing when we don’t live it. Yet we live on this side of the cross, where the perfect parenting life was lived by Jesus, and our punishment for sinning against God in parenting was taken by the death of Jesus. His life and death make it possible for us to both live holy parenting lives AND repent freely when we don’t.

If you’re anything like me, though, repenting is the LAST thing you want to do. Not only is it embarrassing when you act like a spoiled child TO your spoiled child, but usually, said child is in the middle of sinning against you when you sin against him/her. So even if you feel a little guilty you also feel a teensy bit justified. When I let out a Miss Piggy like noise of frustration when one of my kids is writhing on the floor in rebellion I’m not usually feeling like my frustration is unwarranted.

(I should confess that RIGHT NOW one of my children is out of bed for the FIFTH time telling me totally unimportant things and my own writing is convicting me as I battle the urge to throw myself face first onto the couch and yell “JUST GO TO BED ALREADY FOR THE LOVE”)

Let’s have a real life example. This will be fun.

Lately, one of my children, who shall remain nameless, has been having a bit of an extra hard time with being told no. Said child pouts, glares, refuses to respond, stomps, slams doors and cries. Here are 2 responses to this kind of behavior:

1. I calmly send the child to his/her room. Then I calmly explain why this behavior is unacceptable. Then I, again, calmly talk about the gospel and how it is the only way to God, who is the only one who can give us a heart to obey. Then I continue to calmly respond as said child either repents or continues to rebel.

2. GAAAAAAH ENOUGH ALREADY JUST GO TO YOUR ROOM AND STAY UNTIL YOU CAN HAVE A GOOD ATTITUDE

Obviously approach one is both preferable and significantly more godly. In it, I reveal the gospel to my child through my words. But in the second, if I repent to my child, I’m able to reveal the gospel to my child through my actions. The child sees that saying sorry for sin and asking forgiveness isn’t scary, it’s freeing. If mommy can say, “That was wrong. I’m so sorry. Please forgive me,” then he or she can say it, too. If mommy can pray and ask God to cleanse her of sin and renew her heart, then he or she can go to God, too.

Besides showing our children a very tangible picture of the gospel, repenting to them also gives us credibility. Our pastors have often said that children can sniff out hypocrisy in their parents like nobody’s business. And it’s true. They know when their parents aren’t who they say they are. BUT, if their parents are honest when this happens, when they aren’t who they know they’re called to be, it’s not hypocrisy, it’s the gospel.

For some reason we want to hide our true selves from our children. I suppose it’s because we all want to be heroes in our children’s eyes. But our calling isn’t to make ourselves into heroes to our children. It’s to make our children see Jesus as their hero. It’s important that we acknowledge to them that we aren’t the heroes of the story. They already know it. They’re not blind. But when we admit it, they see through our failings to a gospel that saves and frees us to live lives of obedience and repentance.

Parent, don’t be afraid to let those kids see your weaknesses. You might find that your best parenting is done when you’ve completely failed. After all, His power is made perfect in weakness.

“But he said to me, “My grace is sufficient for you, for my power is made perfect in weakness.” Therefore I will boast all the more gladly about my weaknesses, so that Christ’s power may rest on me.” (2 Corinthians 12:9)