Its a Rites of Passage to get your hair “done” as an Indigenous American girl. No matter who raised you, it is the responsibility and shall I say honor of the woman of the house to Do your hair. The specific process varies amongst households but overall the goals are the same:
-Care for the hair
-Grow the hair
-Protective the hair
-Represent your heritage
Wash day in my house as a child was terrifying. Maybe because I had sensitivities undiscovered 🤷🏽♀️ Full blown meltdowns, screams, bouts of escapism you name it, i experienced it. Im sure it triggered my mother’s nervous system too!
I hated the water getting on my face, the steam from the sink was too invasive and don’t let me get soap in my eyes. Ouch!
My mom tried different tactics: giving me dry towels to put over my eyes, talking me through the steps, flipping me backwards over the knee (whew as big as I was? chileeeeee) but it wasn’t enough to curb the fear.
Every wash day was a battle and sometimes i would work myself up to having nosebleeds.
It was traumatic to say the least but looking back, I needed to get through it. To build that courage, She would wash it more frequently to get me more exposed to the sensations.
Now that I think about it, Exposure Therapy been around before anyone labeled it as such. And no it doesn’t feel good and yes it may cause some trauma but the reward is fearlessness in the end.
This was my Rites of Passage. I had to go through it, and for whatever reason the washing part was the most scary, not the blow dryer, hot comb or the braiding. And as much as i hated the washing at the time, i loved the results. As a little girl it boosts your confidence to have your hair done.
I can say as an adult im not traumatized by washing my hair anymore and as a matter of fact i outgrew that fear around age 10.
Im grateful that my mom pushed my limits because the alternative would’ve been neglect . Dirty, matted hair, or a short hair cut (they would’ve for sure roasted me at school 🥴).
As a Mama with a daughter exhibiting the same fears, it is my turn to find alternative ways to get the job done. It is my duty to Do her hair.
Conscious parenting would tell you to throw away your traditions if it upsets the child. Some of these self proclaimed leaders would tell you if she( the girl child) doesn’t want her hair done don’t do it. Or cut it. Loc it. Keep it in a fro and spray some water on it.
In my culture, the child is not the center and I’m taking it a step further beyond previous generations to say neither are the parents. The entire family is centered.
And right now, that looks like my daughter going through her Rites of Passage as many of us did.
And you know what else, she gon’ be i-ight.