Lately, Shine has become self conscious about the "fluffiness" of his hair. Apparently there is a little boy in his class who has been telling him that his hair is too fuzzy and it needs to be cut short like his own (short=buzzed completely bald). It is something that I knew we would have to address sooner or later because here, like in many places, the way one wears his or her hair is a contentious issue.
After his bath and hair washing last night, Shine asked Mo to cut his hair explaining what the boy at school told him. Mo agreed to trim it up and took out the scissors. When Mo was finished, Shine looked in the mirror and said, "It's still too curly. Cut more." So, Mo cut some more off. But Shine was still unsatisfied. I heard the exchange and decided to go into the bathroom to talk with him. I asked Shine why he was upset and repeated what the boy at school said to him. We talked about the way the boy at school wears his hair and how his other friends wear their hair. We explained how there are many different types of hair, curly, wavy, straight, big, little, thick, thin, dark, light...and how all these different types of hair reflect your ancestry...the story of where your family comes from. We emphasized that there is no right or wrong way for your hair to be. It is a matter of choice. Shine agreed with what we were saying, but said he still wanted his hair shorter. Mo again got out the scissors but after a few more snips, Shine told him to stop. He took his hand, rubbed it around his hair and proclaimed it, "Good."
This morning, Shine brushed his hair by himself, asked Mo for a little of his Burt's Bee Avocado hair cream, rubbed it around his fuzzy locks and again proclaimed it, "Good."
In Brooklyn, hair was a non-issue. There were so many people with so many different types of hair that it was easy to find someone else to identify with. On the playground Shine was one of many fluffy-haired kids. Mo and I will allow Shine to wear his hair any way that he chooses as long as he keeps it clean. But if his choice is to get rid of the fluffly curls, I want it to be in the interest of having a new hairstyle and not out of shame. I have a feeling this is not the last time we will be having this conversation. And I think a copy of Bell Hooks' book, "Happy to be Nappy" is in our future.