She climbs on the counter just like I did at her age. She lays down and asks me to make sure the water isn’t too hot or too cold and that I please not let it get in her eyes.
I remember these days from my childhood clearly. It’s hair wash day. For African American little girls, it’s an entire part of culture. We aren’t allowed to play in or wash and care for our own hair typically until we are close to teenagers or beyond. Our mothers take our hair seriously. It’s a direct representation of them as mothers. If our hair is unkempt, they are somehow not as good and if it is neat and perfect, then so are they.
I’m no different from my daughter and I have the same routine my mom and I did. Her hair definitely is an important part of my role in her life. I’ve also come to realize, though, that we bond during this time. We are face to face, similar to when I was feeding her as a baby. We talk and I learn things about her. We are usually uninterrupted because no one hangs around for wash day if they don’t have to.
As much hard work as it is on wash day, I’ve come to cherish this rite of passage. Realizing that I’m participating in a centuries-old tradition between mothers and daughters. It’s more than a chore; it’s an opportunity to share space with one of my most precious gifts, my little girl.