I have the kind of hair that is common is some parts of the world, but not where I’ve spent a majority of my life. It’s crazy curly; the type that can turn into dreadlocks if I go more than two days without washing it. It’s the kind of hair that they run special articles about in magazines. The kind of hair that I was teased about during middle school. The kind of hair that women spend lots of money to get flat ironed and chemically straightened. It’s what happens when Russian Jewish and Chicano genes marinate.
Why walk down such a hairy memory lane? Because my daughter, C, while not sporting a sometimes fro, was born with a head full of wavy red hair. That’s right, she’s a Ginger. We’re talking deep red, the kind with subtle glints of blond, the kind that even at one week old, people would stop me – and still do – to comment on.
To be honest, in the beginning I wasn’t that much of a fan of her one-of-a-kind color that people pay mega bucks to have. I mean, if I hadn’t been in the room, awake to witness her birth, you would have thought I kidnapped the girl. Good thing she was identical to her dad as a baby. So I sulked for a few weeks (shameful, I know) that I had this adorable baby that had red hair and looked nothing like me.
Then I grew to dig it, but I worried that people would tease her. There are insults involving red hair and I didn’t want men asking her lewd questions about, well, you-know-what “matching.” And as someone who was teased for many years about her own hair, I didn’t want her to be ashamed of it or want to change it.
But doesn’t a lot of parenting end up a do-over to the minor injuries we suffered as children? Isn’t it a wish to provide for our children what wasn’t emotionally, physically, spiritually or mentally provided for? Where do we set boundaries on providing in a nurturing way and suffocating or becoming a helicopter parent? I was once told that “suffering makes people interesting,” yet the thought of my daughter suffering momentarily stops my heart from beating. Does watching our children wander through the mental halls of insults help us finally learn how to cope?
I don’t know. I guess the only answer I have right now is the one C gave me tonight while I was rocking her to sleep. “Mama hair,” she said, petting mine. “Mine hair,” she said, patting hers.