When I was a girl, my mother used to comb my hair. All I remember is that it hurt. Oh, and my mom’s friend Glenda used to comb my hair for picture day. By the time I was old enough to sit still without screaming, Momma started taking me to the hairdresser every two weeks. I still go.

So I’m not sure why I thought that I would be a haircombing whiz after Elyse was born. It was fine when she was a newborn, but all I had to do was brush it down then. Now that she’s a year and a half, there are ribbons, barrettes, and a child who won’t sit still.

My efforts are decent, but curious little fingers undo all of my work by the middle of the day. Elyse’s babysitter, Mrs. Mac, usually takes pity on me and fixes it. And I love her for it. In 15 minutes Mrs. Mac braid my baby’s hair into a style that last seven days. If I had three hours, I couldn’t come close to making it look that nice.

I’ll admit that I was jealous at first; I think Supermom was trying to come out. I eventually got over it by applauding my genius in finding a childcare provider who is a hairstylist to boot.

Mrs. Mac is on vacation this month, and she deserves it. Any woman who takes care of five kids five days a week needs some time to herself. Elyse has been going to the backup daycare that my company provides.

So, I tried to step up my game. I didn’t want strangers thinking that I was a bad mother. I bought two new packs of barettes and started taking extra time braiding on haircare night (Saturday.)

I thought that I was doing great, until I picked up Elyse yesterday. She was lying in a teacher’s lap, and the lady was finishing up a set of cornrows that would give Mrs. Mac a run for her money.

“I hope you don’t mind.” She said as she picked up one of those old-school black combs (the one that has the wide teeth at one end and the little teeth on the other)

“Oh no, thank you.” But I did mind. What was wrong with what I had done? And why did Elyse stay still for a perfect stranger? She’s only known this woman for six days; she’s known me for a year and a half.

Then I remembered the book that I bought for Elyse as a desparate attempt to ease the haircombing process. It’s called “I love My Hair.” The tenderheaded girl in the story starts to cry, and her mother tells her about the beauty of black hair:

“Your hair is beautiful, Keyana, and I can style it any way you choose…I could weave it into a puffy little bun…or I could part straight rows along your scalp…”

I had changed the words, because I knew that I was inept.

“Your hair is beautiful, Elyse, and the with the right hairstylist, you can wear it anyway you choose…She can weave it into a puffy little bun…or she can part straight rows along your scalp…

I suppose I shouldn’t be mad because she was paying attention.

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