“Your hair is ugly,” said my daughter’s classmate. My first reaction was to go right up to the school and give that child a good whop upside the head. However, I had enough good sense to know that going ham on a five-year-old would only land me in jail. No, there had to be a better way to handle this. But how, Sway?
Oh, and I know exactly which little girl said it too. At five, she’s a year older than my kid and everyday a babysitter picks her up from school with earphones on. They can be seen blocks away from the school walking in silence. It’s doubtful the babysitter even knows she’s there.
This isn’t the first time this little girl’s name has come up. Not long ago, she was fighting over the pink bean bag. Apparently, there’s only one in the class and homegirl feels like she should have it everyday.
I’m starting to wonder if this kid is a bully, which makes sense because who says that to someone with a straight face?
Well, someone with a lot of hair hate but that’s a whole ‘nother story. I don’t want to get into the fact that the kid is a light-skinned Puerto Rican with ‘nappy’ hair so in her circles she’s probably a disgrace. It would be surprising if the hair conversations in her household center around the beauty of natural hair or the fact that everyone’s hair is different and beautiful just the same. Though I’m not saying that she’s the only one. Once my daughter and I were at a laundromat in Atlanta when a little girl around her same age with braids down to her ankles looked at my daughter’s short natural hair bewildered. “What’s wrong with her hair?” she asked her mommy in disgust. You could sense the woman’s embarrassment, but what else could she expect when she and all of her kids, there were at least three more, looked like they had robbed a weave truck? It clearly sends a message that long hair is in, and anything to the contrary can’t happen by choice. People start getting very “well-meaning” when they see a little girl with short Afro hair. In fact, a few have come right up to me and offered the number of their hair braider. One lady offered to pay me to “fix it.”
Maybe I’d feel the same way if I hadn’t been to the Ivory Coast, where my husband is from, and seen so many strikingly beautiful little girls with short cropped hair. If not for them, I might also be clinging to braids as the only way my daughter, whose hair doesn’t grow very long, would have a shot at a ‘normal life.’ It’s funny how we only see the beauty in what we’ve been trained to see.
So back to this kid. What do I do?
I call my mom who is not pleased. “Should I confront her mother?” I ask her. She quickly kills that idea, reminding me of the time she almost came to blows with a mom who was talking stuff about me and my brother. With all the neighborhood kids egging her on, me included, she went to the house of this single mother of eight to defend her kid’s honor. Only thing is, ma didn’t realize that the woman was 300 lbs. She almost pooped her pants as she stood in the woman’s living room, trying to remember why she was there. Fortunately, the woman didn’t want to fight any more than my mom, but it sure was a close call. “Why don’t you just talk to the teacher?” she suggests.
The next day, I tell Ms. P. what the little girl said to my daughter and she confirms that it’s not a good idea to talk to her mom. For one, parents generally don’t like hearing from other parents regarding their kid, and two, one can never predict a parent’s personality. Things could easily escalate.
“Okay, so what then?”
She says the best thing to do would be to introduce some books to the class that address acceptance and diversity. After, they can discuss it. Her solution doesn’t sound nearly as proactive as going upside the child’s head and then taking down her mom, but…The next morning, I come to class armed and ready to read one of my daughter’s favorite books called, ‘I Like Myself,’ about a little girl so filled with self-love that she doesn’t care what anyone else thinks. Hopefully, it will help.
This article first appeared on MommyNoire