Skip to content
1 year ago

1098 words

Photo: Would you look at that head of hair? That child has no idea how lucky he is!


It’s that time again. Time to “do somethin’ with that head,” as all the old Black ladies of my life would tell me. There comes a time when we can’t just let the hair be anymore. You gotta either cut it off or comb it out.

On any given day, my boys’ hair is a mess. They don’t care how they look, they look fine to me, there is dirt up in there anyway because of the way that they play… I don’t give it much thought. I have invested in very nice Shea Moisture shampoo and conditioner for them, so their hair is soft and has a pretty sheen… but the comb? The brush? Forget about it for all the reasons.

And that’s all well and good when their hair is short and nobody is paying attention. Minor particularly has it easy, as his hair is more wavy than curly, with a fine texture like his father. Poor Major got my hair: it’s thick, it’s curly, with a tightness and a stiffness that makes it… well, he got my course, angry hair. So when it’s matted, it looks bad. There are months between the time it’s too short for anyone to care until it’s long enough that it drives me crazy. The last time the boys had their hair cut, it was for Grandy’s funeral in mid-October. But we’ve hit my limit. It’s gotta be done before school now. This presents a big, huge pain for the both of us. Me, metaphorically, of course… but him….

I took the comb out of the hair-product basket downstairs (The Husband calls it “The Basket of Exotic Oils,” and I often smack him with something when he does so) and Major gasped in shock. “Why did you get that?”

“Baby, your hair is a hot mess. We’ve got to get it together. It’s too long to ignore.”

“But… no. You really don’t have to do that. You know I don’t like that. Please don’t get that!”

The thing about that moment is that I know I begged the same way with my mom when I was that age. What Black child hasn’t sat between their mother’s knees and prayed that God would break the comb by some miracle and save their tender scalp from the torture? My mom would start with the brush and slather on the JAM or the Magic Blue or whatever and start out nice and easy. But, eventually, (and I know she tried to be sneaky about it, God bless her), she’d have to grab that comb and the tears would start. Sometimes the tears would start early in anticipation of the pain.

And then came the huffs of frustration:

“It isn’t that bad, child, really. I’m being as gentle as I can.”

“Lord, if you would just keep your head still, it wouldn’t be this hard.”

“Kyra, I swear, you make it seem worse than it is!”

This morning, it was 100% pure and organic aloe vera gel and a bit of my Shea Moisture Loc & Braid butter (because I’m grasping at straws when it comes to what will moisturize Major’s hair without weighing it down). No brush. Straight for the widest tooth comb I could find, and the gentle fluffing his hair needs. It didn’t take long for his little tears to start rolling down his cheeks.

And my huffs of frustration came soon thereafter:

“Lordy, [Major], it isn’t that bad. There are barely any tangles here!”

“Baby, if you would just keep your head up, I wouldn’t have to fight with you and this would be easier!”

“[Ursa Major], we could have been done by now if you’d just be cool. You look so handsome. This is such a small price to pay for how beautiful you are!”

He would hear none of it, whimpering and fighting until I let him go on. I told him to look in the mirror and see just how massive his ‘fro is. He wanted nothing to do with it.


Minor had insisted on watching the entire thing, looking at his brother and watching my hands closely. When Major’s tears started to fall, Minor’s eyes welled up, too. When I was done and Major had sulked away, Minor looked up with me with his brow furrowed, his glare unflinching and serious. He stated, with all of his might, “I don’t like you, Mommy. I don’t like you right now.”

“Baby, I combed your brother’s hair. It needed to be done so he can be presentable for school.”

“Well it made him hurt and cry. And that’s not nice. So, I don’t like you right now, Mommy.”

Ursa Major has no idea what an incredible gift his little brother is to him. I put the damn comb down and fluffed Minor’s hair with my fingers. He batted at me dispassionately. The waves of his hair did little to resist, and they moved where they wanted to move.

I was hoping that someone at school would have noticed Major’s hair today and said something nice to him. Major insisted that no one noticed, no one said anything to him. I’m a bit disappointed. I could really use the support. He’s not going to be able to get his hair cut until the weekend. You know what that means? Yup. A fight every morning! Yay!

It is the start of another week, Dear Reader, and we’re already off to the races when it comes to news and nonsense. I went to church yesterday hoping for a little bit of peace, but found myself further in the quagmire rather than out of it. Maybe it’s best right now to be uncomfortable and to endure a sustained discomfort. It keeps me engaged, keeps me fighting, keeps me encouraging others to do the same. If you haven’t, I hope you will take a moment to give even just $10 to the ACLU as they continue to fight on behalf of all of us.

Either way, I am with you: working, resisting, fighting, reading, thinking and encouraging. Take care of yourself as you care for others, Dear Reader. Do the works that will sustain you as you work hard on behalf of others. I keep telling you that we need you. Your best you. So rest when you have to, so that you may be strong enough to fight another day. We’ll make it through this week together, no matter what comes.

Until Wednesday, take care.

6 Replies to “The Tender-Headed Blues”

  1. Are you using detangler? This will be new to you but i just opened a beauty supply store. Mixx Hair Bar &Beauty Supply. We actually mixx up hair butters and oils as well as sell the natural commercial products. Give me your address Im going to mail you a detangler!!!

  2. Poor baby. I like how Minor was defending his brother, but I remember those days. I was just talking to my mom about how she would spend Sundays washing, blow drying, pressing and braiding our hair. She said “I wish I knew better.” But, thick hair will always be thick and their is a blessing in accepting that. LOL. He looks so cute though.

    1. Cute, even when pouting. Lordy.
      Mom gave up on me early and got me the relaxer really early in age. Something we both regret, as I think it’s why I have so many scalp problems now. I wish we had loc’d it when I was young. I wouldn’t have been so brave, though… Anyway, my hair has never been so healthy. My scalp though… God made New England and Black women on different days, I swear… We just weren’t supposed to meet. My skin HATES the winter here. My scalp especially.

  3. As a child, my hair was super fine… and also straw-like and dry and tangly as anything. I have no idea how it did it. It was dead straight — wouldn’t curl if you curled it — but somehow the whole lot of would tie itself in knots every single night. And of course I insisted on wearing it long (down to my chest), so every morning my mum had to try and brush it and there was pain. And don’t even get me started on trying to tie it back for ballet. It was a disaster. I can’t imagine how much worse it is for Major: even as a white person with the straightest of straight hair, childhood hairbrushing sessions were hellish.

    For reference: this was me aged eleven or twelve, before I stopped refusing to have my hair cut and opted for a bob. I had a LOT of split ends. Sigh. (Me at fifteen, with healthier but still absurdly long and tangly hair:

    It still tangles (I don’t understand people who can go a day without brushing their hair — mine’s super short and I still have to brush it regularly) but it’s not nearly as dry or straw-like and gross. It got a lot healthier after I cut it all off aged 12 and let it grow back, and then again at 15, and again at 18, and again at 20… yeah, I’ve been too impatient to let it grow much lately. It doesn’t help that I’m allergic to pretty much all hair products — there was a time when I had to use prescribed medicinal shampoo because everything else kept making my scalp bleed, and now I use baby shampoo because it’s about the only thing my head will tolerate more than a couple of washes in a row. So that makes it a bit hard to control. Like, I’d love to have more style to my hair instead of letting it just lie flat and overgrown, because it is SO flat and has no volume at all, but that would require product and I don’t have the time or the allergy resistance for that. So I just chop it all off when it annoys me. It’s starting to grow over my ears again. Gonna have to get my clippers out…

  4. My goodness, what a hair journey! I’m so sorry that your hair has given you so much trouble and I am CERTAINLY sorry about the allergic reaction! Did anyone ever pinpoint the ingredient that was making your scalp react so? That is really quite terrible! Is the rest of your skin sensitive, too?

    I love the pictures of younger you! Your hair seems healthy in those pictures, though? I know there is a flash, but there seems to be a “healthy sheen” to it? It’s funny, when I was a little girl, I longed for hair that long. I’d get braids every summer to help protect my hair for a summer’s worth of swim team and I’d get them as long as my mom would allow (just a little below my shoulders). Oh, how I loved to in them! I was never able to achieve that length with my natural hair, especially with the chemicals straightening (it just would break).

    Anyway, I’ll have been loc’ing my hair for 5 years and I have finally achieved legitimately shoulder-length hair. A huge achievement for me! I was never able to achieve that when I was young without a *lot* of intervention and even then… it wasn’t a good look. My scalp never recovered from the chemical straightening we did when I was younger. I only put the purest, most unrefined ingredients on my head (olive oil, shea butter, coco butter, aloe vera gel). It helps a lot, but my scalp still burns and itches horribly, especially in the winter.

Leave a Reply

%d bloggers like this: