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The Curl Whisperer on Our Curly Kids


My daughter, Katie -- who is the love and pride of my heart -- had curly ringlets until she was four years old. At age 15 as of this writing, she has morphed into a wavy (at least for the moment, because her mother turned curly during puberty), but she still always notices others with curls. "Look, Mommy," she'll say when we are out shopping and pass a woman with curly locks. "That lady has such pretty curls."

I can't describe the joy I feel at being able to give her a positive experience about her hair regardless of its wave pattern. So many of us grew up feeling self-conscious about our curls, with mothers or other guardians who simply didn't understand how to deal with it.

Some of us had all our curls shorn off in short pixie cuts for "control"; some of us had our hair painfully brushed out until we put the caveman dudes from Geico to shame. We felt ugly and "different," wondering why fate was so cruel and why we couldn't just look "normal" like everyone else.

The good news is that, as we educate ourselves about how to deal with curly hair, the more equipped we are to pass that education along to our children. The hardest thing to remember, though, is how quickly our children sense and pick up our attitudes.

I had a huge reality check myself with Katie when she was about three years old. I've learned to love my curly hair, but that doesn't mean I don't still have bad hair days or days in August where I'd trade my left arm for an afternoon of straight, shiny, frizz-free locks. One summer day, I was fussing and complaining about how I didn't want my curls anymore when this tiny voice suddenly piped up beside me.

"Me either, Mommy."

Talk about a major smack in the face. The first thought through my mind was this: What was I, a supposed curly hair expert, teaching my daughter? How could I expect her to love her hair if I didn't lead by example and show her I loved my own? I can't even begin to describe how mad I was at myself.

It took a while after that for Katie to understand that curls were special and Mommy really did love her hair. Today, I don't hide my bad hair days from her, but I am very careful to make the distinction between disliking my curls and disliking how they are falling on a particular day. And she gets it, thank goodness.

One of the best presents we can give our children in any aspect of life is honesty and knowledge. I think teaching our curly kids how to love their curls while educating them on the realities of their care is a good part of the game plan.



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