November 11, 2007 by multiracialsky
I spend a lot of time on my children’s hair. Teri’s hair is at a length where it is almost–but not quite–long enough for cornrows or small braids. The back is just growing out from nearly bald, and the sides are also short. My goal is to secure the edges (which get dry and knotted the quickest) and create a style that will last for 2-4 days with minimal re-parting (daily spray with oil/water mixture, gentle brushing of each individual puff, and the occasional re-fastening of a slipping ponytail). The four-ponytail X-style is a current favorite, although the tiny back puff makes the style a little uneven. Dawn is right: it’s all in the straight parts. Even a super-fancy style with crooked parts looks sloppy.
Aside from syrup and other assorted goodies caked into her hair, Gretel’s locks are fairly simple to style, but nothing stays in for long. Her fine hair slips out of every kind of band, braid or ponytail I devise. The best bet is to secure her hair close to the hairline with quick and simple styles–because no matter what I do, I know I’ll be re-styling again tomorrow.
Rico has a very short hair cut (he calls it a shaved head) for the first time in his life, after years of long hair, and then the long-awaited mohawk for his birthday this fall. When his hair is long enough to reach his eyes, it must be held back (probably one of the reasons he loves all those hats), because his thick, straight hair falls directly into his eyes. Tight braids work best, and will hold for up to three days. Rico is now growing his hair long again. His dark, fast-growing hair is a lot like mine.
Jaja had her first major haircut this fall, and is now sporting a chin-length bob. The goal of this haircut was to decrease the morning fuss-attack about brushing her hair (and it has worked). In the colder months (about 6 months a year here) her fine, wavy hair needs to be braided almost all the time to protect it from static and knots. I taught myself how to french braid last year, and Jaja’s long hair spent most of last winter in snug braids, a style that took 25-40 minutes to put in, and lasted 2-4 days.
My children receive extra attention and extra scrutiny from the general public–and from acquaintances and friends–because they are part of a multiracial family. This applies even more to my visible children of color. Neatly parted, brushed, and styled hair is my top leaving-the-house priority (followed closely by clean faces, moisturized skin, and reasonably clean clothes). Somedays I wish I could just let my kids roll out of bed and step out the door with birdsnest-hair (like many of their friends), but that would not be fair to them.
I was questioned today about Jaja’s curls (as in, ‘where did they go?’) Her baby hair was curly; her little-kid hair, not so much. I was told that curls are ‘in her genes’–as is stick straight hair, we pointed out. There is still the expectation that biracial and multiracial kids will have a certain texture of hair, a certain color of skin, or a certain shape or color to their eyes. Not so.
In our family, there is occasional grumbling that Teri is the only one with enough hair curl and thickness to really hold cornrows, two-stranded twists, or tiny box braids. The hair-styles for kids with highly-textured hair are so much more interesting to my kids. But the promise of a green mohawk or five braids with multi-colored ponytail holders will suffice, most days.