How Great a Father's Love
Lately, I can't stop watching the Sesame Street video, "I Love My Hair." The video, which debuted in October 2010, features a cute little African-American Muppet who dances around the screen, singing about her hair:
"Don't need a trip to the beauty shop/'cause I love what I got on top/It's curly and it's brown/ and it's right up there/You know what I love?/That's right! I love my hair."
Throughout the song, the muppet sings about the different ways she can wear her hair—in a clip, in a bow, in an Afro or cornrows.
The first time I saw the video, I teared up a little. I'm proud to say, this 33-year-old woman has always geeked out on Sesame Street and the Muppets. The song "Rainbow Connection" inevitably moves me to tears, and I recently bent my longstanding commitment to sleeping in on Saturdays in order to visit a Jim Henson exhibit at a local museum during its premier weekend. (Between you and me, I may have skipped from the museum door all the way to the exhibit.) There are very few people who appreciate the Muppets on a deeper level than I do. The blend of earnestness, humor, and creativity they represent is deeply moving to me.
But another reason I love this video is that I also love my hair. I was an 18-year-old college freshman before I took over my own hair care. That's partly because of the gentle care many textures of African-American hair require, but it's also because the ritual of hair care is such a bonding experience between black women—whether it's at the beauty shop, or between mothers and daughters.
As a little girl, I treasured the time my mom and I spent together as she did my hair. Mom would sit on the sofa, and my sister and I would sit below her, heads between her knees as she oiled our scalps and brushed, parted, and braided our hair, finishing each braid with ribbons and a plastic barrette. We wore pony tails, thick Afro puffs, puffy French braids, and rows and rows of tiny braids with colorful beads at the ends that swished back and forth as we walked. Sometimes, we'd sit in the kitchen, reading aloud to Mom as she straightened our tight natural curls with a metal comb heated on the oven. I favored Grace Livingston Hill's romance novels, largely because I could fool Mom by making up my own dialogue for Livingston's stock characters as Mom focused on easing the hot comb through my thick, shoulder-length locks. Even now, my twice-a-month appointments with Cheryl, at her aptly-named Crown and Glory Salon, are a mix of tender care, humor, and heat.