Imagine you are 7 years old.
You just woke up, ate breakfast, and now it is time to get ready for the day. Society tells you to pick the pink shirt with the matching pink skirt, and maybe those glittery shoes, too. After all, you are a young lady. BUT... What if that isn't you? Instead, you strap on your TMNT onesie with the hood, layer it with the Halloween tutu you refuse to let Mom wash (daily accessory, duh) and a pair of pink rubber boots. When you are done, you head back downstairs to finish getting ready.
"Brush your teeth and hair," you hear your mom remind you from the living room, "We have a few places to go today." You stare at the mirror. To you, this is torture. For one reason or another, you hate brushing your hair. It doesn't feel like you.
This became a reoccurring scenario in our house. I have always tried to be, or at least would like to think I am, a peaceful parent. I know in my heart how important it is to respect the autonomy of my children. When we don't, that is when children rebel and become sneaky to have their needs met. There were days I just said, "Screw the brush" and walked out the door as is. We would not only get stared at by strangers, but some of their comments were vicious, too. The most heartbreaking were the comments from those who "loved" us.
"Doesn't she know how to use a brush?" "You're her mother, drag it through her hair until she learns." It's like at some point in history, we accepted that hurting our children to have them look a certain way to fit in with society was okay. Like we decided that having control over someone was more important than having a relationship with them.
We decided to try something different. My daughter and I sat down and brainstormed. She came up with a brilliant idea all her own to which I was proud. "Mom, what about dreads?" YES! So together we went online to look for videos on how to get this started. What could anyone have to say now? Surely we won.
Haha. It's a cruel world. The judgments poured in. "I thought you were going to work on brushing? It looks even worse now!" and my favorite, "Don't you know that is a good way to get lice?" I'll let you in on a little secret for that last one; lice like CLEAN hair. With the amount of wax and oil we have used to get the dreads to lock properly and not into one jumbled mess, I highly doubt that is an issue. Also, it's hair. It grows back. Worse case is we fail at this and we have to start over. She knew this going in, and it was HER choice to give it a try.
Her body, her choice. I would like to think we live in a progressive time where this is understood, even for children. Childhood is an important time, a magical time, in which one should be exploring who they are and what they like. It is time we embrace our differences.