From the ages five to eight years old, the most terrible words to hear my mother say were “Jas! Bring the barrette box, a big comb and a towel downstairs!” Even the smell of that box was enough to ruin my entire mood. Whenever my mom uttered those words, I knew my scalp, and I were in for a long afternoon.
I remember standing on a kitchen table chair in front of the sink because I was too short to get my hair washed adequately without it. My mom used to use
Mane n’ Tail shampoo and conditioner on my hair for wash day. The smell of the conditioner, the way it defined my curls and how soft my hair was while it was in my hair was the only part of the entire process that I enjoyed; the rest is described as a form of passive-aggressive torture.
Typically, my hair was an all-day process. I’d get my hair shampooed around noon, deep condition until about four o’clock, have it rinsed and then the pain began. “Come sit on the floor right here” is what my mom use to say to me after she towel dried my hair. Sometimes I got lucky and would only have to deal with getting two or three ponytails but for the summertime especially it was cornrows, and yes, my mother is a heavy-handed, slow braider. I sat on the floor and cried the entire time hysterically while getting my hair done. Ripping through my thick coily hair impatiently with a comb, then tightly gripping the roots of my hair to begin each braid. I hated the process but loved the outcome every time.
Despite all of the drama that comes with the upkeep, I’ve always had desirable hair, thick, curly and long. My mom used to do a length check every other time she did my hair and right before I got my first relaxer, my hair was down the middle of my back.