I’ve always been tender-headed. I think I got it from my momma. And since then, I’ve come to the conclusion that mothers who were themselves tender-headed when they were young, most times raise tender-headed babies. Now this is only my conclusion and opinion, but here’s my rationale.
When you remember the pain assosiated with getting your hair all prettied up or “done,” as some people call it, you have more compassion for your babies while doing their hair. And because you are able to sympathize and really empathize, you take extra care not to hurt them. Meanwhile, there are those mothers who absolutely do not allow their children to whine, or squirm, or anything else while getting their hair combed. You know the ones who will pop the kid on the head with the back of the comb? I figure these are the mothers who have been popped, head-snatched, and yelled at themselves as children while getting their hair done. And needless to say, they are not tender-headed in the least. So, it wasn’t until talking to a girlfriend of mine that I realized that the only difference between the tenders and non-tenders is that fact that the non-tenders simply are able to take the pain. It doesn’t mean that it doesn’t hurt. They are just able to deal with it.
Wow. I was floored by this revelation. And it made total since to me, because although I was nappy, my mom wasn’t. She had the softest, most beautiful hair you can imagine on a little black girl, but it was thick. And so a little water, a little grease, and just a tiny bit of caution and gentleness could have gotten her done without an ounce of pain, which is what I figured her mom probably used with her when hair-time came. Which by the way, grandma had also been tender-headed as a child. See how it works? And btw, my son is tender-headed as well.
But anyway, let me get back to the subject of this blog, “my first time.” Oh let’s see. I was maybe in about the 3rd or 4th grade, I guess. I had usually kinky hair (yeah, I got that from my daddy, so there was nothing new about that. I was pretty tender-headed and would cry when I got my hair combed. My mom was always gentle and made special efforts not to hurt me, but it still did. And if daddy was in the room, I made sure to cry harder, because I knew he’d say, “Frankie, hurry up with that gal’s head and leave her alone please!” And she would end up doing an easier, quicker style. Maybe not as pretty, but who cared?
One day someone came up with the wonderful idea of putting a blow out in my hair. I guess the thought was that it wouldn’t be as strong as a perm maybe? I don’t know. But I absolutely loved the idea. And after I got it, hair-time was no longer a painful ordeal for me. And my hair looked “better” too.
That is until it started to fall out. Oh my god! I was mortified and humiliated. I’m sure you know how mean grade school kids can be. So when I had probably 50% of the strands left on my head, and in no particular arrangement – a hole here, some hair there – my dad came up with another brilliant idea. He decided to cut it all off and even it out.
I’m grown now, and I’m sure when I look back, it had to look so much better after the cut. But to a young girl, it simply meant that now all my hair was gone. I had been holding on to those last strands for dear life. As if…as if the kids were going to pick more after having all my hair cut off neatly than at the sight of me walking around looking like a chicken head.
And they did. It was my first time, and I prayed the last. But some prayers go unanswered. Or at least it seems.
Because I am an eternal optimist, I choose to always see my glass half-full, and find the positive in every negative.
So here we are. In this community that celebrates us as is. A community that celebrates the beauty of our nappiness. And I wouldn’t be here with you guys right now had it not been for my bad hair experiences back then.
Peace, Love, & Light yall,
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