I didn’t know Jesus needed his hair done, all three feet of him, medium brown skin.
She was (and is) absolutely adorable. Middle Child Syndrome rings through her slender build. She’s use to being at fault.
What are you going to do for the rest of the day?
I’m going to behave. It’s more fun that way.
For the record, she was never naughty in my time with her.
Permission had been granted so I was playing with her hair. It’s the kind of hair you envy, except for the rough ends that need a solid detangling. Detangling isn’t a priority, not when you’re 6 she’s 9, and she’s 1. Mom’s hands are fully tired.
It felt right and natural to braid her hair. I didn’t have a style in mind, just like I had no agenda. That’s often hard. Why am I here? Can we clearly define that before I leave the comfortable rhythms of my office and enter your temporary home? Can we map out a goal? By 3pm I will have…
No. I simply wanted to go and the least I could do was play in her hair. First two plaits in the lower back of her head. Then the rows began–cornrows or canerows, depending on your part of the world. I grew up with sugarcane.
It’s been years since I’ve braided another person’s hair and today it felt like a really good decision. Long gone are the $5, front-only braiding sessions of my undergraduate years–that was good money.
We talked about a few things such as what she wants to be when she grows up and her answers surprised me. It was easy to forget that she’s six or easy to believe that six is much older than it is. She sat still, still enough for me to create straight parts through her hair. Her older sister fussed at her for fidgeting and she admitted to being hyper. I witnessed neither fidgets nor hyperactivity. Hearing a 6-year-old define herself negatively was frustrating, yet I felt the need (for the most part) to hold my tongue.
After a little while, all was quiet and I sensed her head falling forward. She was fast asleep. I was as proud as a massage therapist. She obviously needed the rest and she obviously felt comfortable with her hair in my hands. To be trusted is a high honor. I wanted to cradle her in my arms and talk to her as if she were my own, tell her all that awaits her, all the good, and how she has a million opportunities to be amazing (even though “amazing” isn’t a word I really use…). I wanted to trade out her negative self-talk for a healthy one.
I didn’t want to wake her so I tried propping up her head against the sofa pillow and then against me. Combing out tangles eventually woke her up enough for me to ask if she wanted to lay down. Yes. I rested her head on my lap and finished braiding.
When she knew I was done, her excitement flowed long before she saw the final product. Her fingers ran over her braids and she beamed. Then she walked around showing everyone her new do.
Earlier, she’d asked her mom, “How does she know I like braids?”
My dear child, Jesus must have told me. After all, he needed his hair done today and apparently I was paying attention.
Written on June 14, 2016