Category Archives: Raising a boy

Mahogany Monday: Hair today, hair tomorrow?

Baby E used to sport an afro most of the time but lately we’ve taken to braiding it up. Both C and myself wear our hair in locs but we haven’t taken that step with Baby E. C is in favor of going ahead and locking it or just cutting his hair. I’m more sentimental about keeping his baby curls for as long as possible (*sniff). A few months ago I was more on the side of giving him his first haircut but that was mostly because Baby E would not sit still long enough to let me braid his hair. However, haircuts are currently on the back-burner again because Baby E will sit still for his babysitter while she braids his hair. I can barely imagine what he would look like with short hair.

Check out more Mahogany Monday posts here.

The Power of No

Image: Salvatore Vuono / FreeDigitalPhotos.net

I’ve started saying “No” to Baby E.

No to nursing when my nipples have had enough.

No to him playing with electrical cords.

No to him playing in the kitchen cabinets.

He usually just looks at me and laughs then goes right back to doing what I didn’t want him to do in the first place. Such is the way of the toddler.

I’m trying to redirect him instead of just saying no all the time. Most of the time I am able to do this.

Well, some of the time.

That “No” comes flying out of my mouth before I’ve even realized what has happened.

Such is the way of the mama.

I know that the oft-cited danger of saying “No” to a toddler all the time is that it encourages them to start saying “No” back to you for any and everything. However, I think that children learn how to say “No” anyway, verbally or otherwise, regardless of how many times they’ve heard you say it.

But here’s the thing: I think “No” is a really important word for Baby E to learn. And as tempting as it is, I don’t mean this in a “reinforce the parent-child hierarchy” way. I mean that “No” is important because it helps us set up boundaries. And just like I have boundaries for Baby E, he has boundaries for me. By honoring his “no” I’m hopefully teaching him to honor mine and the “no” of others.

This is a hard lesson to put into practice when I’m steeped in a culture that doesn’t truly treat children as fully realized human beings. It’s a hard thing to practice when I’m trying to keep Baby E’s reasoning abilities in perspective while balancing his need for safety and care with honoring his right to say no.

But it’s important enough for me to keep trying and doing. I want my son to be well aware of his rights as an individual but I also want him to be aware of  and respect the rights of others. Honoring his “No” is just the first step.

Thinking too much

I’m a riot, y’all!

You know what I talked about during my labour? Female genital mutilation and cultural competency in medicine. Really.

I think too much.

But I cannot help it. Asking me not to think about these things is tantamount to asking me not to breathe.

I.must.think.

It’s because I care, deeply, about the human race.

It’s because injustice slices away at my insides leaving soul wounds that never quite heal.

It’s because it forces me to think about not only the injustices perpetrated against me, but how I am complicit in perpetrating them against others.

It’s because I’m a mother and I want my son to be free of oppression.

It’s because I’m a mother and I want my son to not be an oppressor.

So I read, and read, and read these wonderful blogs filled with the writings of very.smart.people. And then I think, and think, and think. And then I want to talk about it with someone who gets it. And I open my mouth to speak. Or I sit down to type. Then I find out that no one else seems to want to think about these things the way I do. So I think that I think too much.

Because I can’t easily laugh at that oppressive joke everyone likes to tell.

Because certain off-hand comments aren’t harmless.

I’m a riot, y’all.

Now check out some of what I’ve been thinking about lately:

A Crisis in the Crib & a Blogging Challenge

Is That a Boy or a Girl?: Talking to Kids about Gender

Sex Ed is Every Day

Sherri Shepherd & D.L. Hughley Spread Misinformation about HIV/AIDS

Female Genital Mutilation Performed at Cornell University and Bad Vibrations

Which Mommies Matter?

What’s been on your mind lately?

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