August 30, 2012

Pigtails and Other Adventures with Biracial Hair.

Tessa's hair fascinates me. In the bath, which is when we comb it out with the help of fistfuls of deep conditioner, it's so long that it streams well past her shoulder blades, but when dry it shrinks up to a silky soft afro that stops at the nape of her buttery brown neck. There's one precious freckle fastened there, and it's as though her hair doesn't dare to cover it.

We only wash her hair twice a week because it never does get oily or smelly like my hair would, and thanks to a biracial friend's advice we stopped using shampoo altogether and now just use conditioner. Even so, after a few days she's always accumulated at least a few dreadlocks on the back of her head. Thankfully Nekos has taken on the task of being her devoted detangler. There is nothing that melts my heart more than seeing this 6'2" man sitting on his daughter's stepstool at the edge of our bathtub, coaxing her into letting him comb out her profound tangles.

A couple nights ago he was out doing something to do with fantasy football so I did her hair myself. I bribed her into letting me de-dreadlock her by telling her I'd braid her hair after the bath. That's, like, her dream. Still wrapped in a towel, but with Berenstain Bears books spread out on the floor before her for perusal, I divided her part down the middle and braided her long hair into two skinny pigtails. I was so proud. She was so proud. She looked into the full length mirror and hopped around and proclaimed, "I 'scited!"

By the next morning, though, those pigtails had curled up tight against her head like actual pigs' tails and the crown of her head had given way to a halo of curl fuzz. Hilarious. Today I had better luck when I combed her hair out dry (hello, fluffy afro!) and rebraided her pig tails, but I'm always learning. And I'm always telling her how beautiful her hair is, in hopes that she'll come to love it, too, and that she'll let it grow wild, free and soft, just like her spirit.