Baby No More

When we were waiting for a referral, I didn’t really expect that we’d get a baby under a year old.  In fact, the week before our referral, we had a conversation with our case manager about whether we should raise the bottom of our age range.  I was getting older, our kids were getting older, and starting over with a baby just seemed daunting.  Then, I saw her 4-month-old referral picture and it didn’t seem so overwhelming.  We brought her home when she was 10 months old.  And today, she turned THREE.

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So what that means is that I had two babies, then they grew up.  They learned to get up and entertain themselves on weekends.  They took their own showers and got dressed on their own.  They didn’t wear diapers.  Life was relatively easy.  Then, I was suddenly plunged back into the world of sippy cups, rocking to sleep, and footie pajamas.  And you know what?  I liked it.  And now it’s over.  Earlier this week, Lucy was outside my bathroom door and I said, “Is that my baby out there?”  Her reply?  “I not a baby!!”  And she’s right.

Our three year old has tackled school with her usually unflappable nature.  She now knows all the kids names, knows the routine, and doesn’t want to come home at the end of the day.  She is super-smart.  Sometimes, I’ll ask her to remember something for me, like we have to get cat food.  Later, she’ll actually remember to remind me.  She loves people.  She talks to people everywhere we go.  She may be the only one of our kids to follow in her dad’s fundraiser footsteps.  She would definitely be good at it.  Not only does she talk to people, she makes them feel good about themselves.  She has gotten more picky about her food lately, becoming kind of a bland eater.  Right now, I’d guess her favorite food is salami.  We ate Ethiopian food for her birthday, not because that is necessarily her favorite food, but because she loves the restaurant owner.

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She loves animals.  Of all our kids, she is the only one who truly seeks out an animal to play with.  The cats are so tolerant of her need to drag them around, sometimes by their neck.  She is fascinated by people who are hurt.  Whether it’s a splinter or a missing leg, she is sure to ask them about it.  Just last week she saw a woman with a walking cast on her foot.  She asked at least 10 questions before I could drag her away.  She loves band-aids and frequently tells me “I have blood” just so she can get one.  She is starting to exhibit her sense of style, and I’m sad to say that it’s girly-girl and pinky-pink.  She asks to wear dresses almost every day.  And she loves to get her fingernails or toenails painted.

And now she’s three.  Three has never been my favorite age.  Although the terrible twos have a bad rap, I’ve always found that age three presented more whining, more testing of limits, and more general crankiness.  I am already seeing the beginning of this.  But for the most part, Lucy is a happy, bold, compassionate kid.  Kid, not a baby.  And while I miss that baby, I am kind of liking the kid she is turning into.

 

 

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The Hair

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As a white woman with super-stright, incredibly fine hair, I was worried.  I mean, really worried.  Before our referral, I secretly hoped for two boys, so I could just keep both their heads shaved and not have to worry about learning to braid.  Then we found out we were getting a girl.  And the panic set in.  I started following chocolate hair vanilla care, watched youtube videos on braiding and rented Chris Rock’s Good Hair.  I learned about natural vs. processed.  I went to Sally Beauty Supply and consulted with a (not-so) helpful salesperson who told me what I needed.  I bought it all.  And then Lucy came home.

Now that I had this precious head of hair in my control, I faithfully applied creams, conditioners, shea butter, coconut oil, smoothies, and curl enhancers.  I tried braiding, with little success.  I painstakingly put in beads that fell out the next day.  I only washed once a week.  And, if I do say so myself, she rocked it.

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Then, I took her for her first hair cut.  I’d been nervous about this because it’s one thing for a woman at the grocery store to compliment you, but it’s another to have a professional evaluate your work.  I felt like I was showing my stick figure drawing to Claude Monet.  And you know what he told me?  She doesn’t have African American hair.  Ummm…what?  Yea, she has middle eastern hair.  Huh?  It’s curly, but with loose curls, and is finer and more elastic than African American hair.  Wow.

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So I know that I have it pretty easy when it comes to Lucy.  We comb out her hair every night after bath and every  morning before school.  Yep, it’s that easy.  And we don’t use as many products any more.  I gave up on braiding after a woman at the salon told me they wouldn’t even be able to do a style that would last more than a day or two.  The exception is when I do this, which may be my favorite style:

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Then a few weeks ago, I read an article.  And I realized that I do deeply care what black women think about Lucy’s hair.  I am mortified when Andrew takes her out of the house for a weekend breakfast without doing her hair first.  I hate it when Eleanor tries to be helpful and puts Lucy’s hair in a ponytail because she doesn’t get it all to lay flat.  I hate going anywhere after nap time because I don’t want people to think her hair started out that way this morning.  I’m not normally a vain person and don’t really care how I, myself, look, so it was puzzling why I would care so much about Lucy’s hair.  But that article made me realize what it is.  It’s because I feel like an ambassador.  I am on a goodwill mission between races.  I feel like one way I can show transracial adoption as a positive is simply by being aware of what’s important to another culture.  And to black women, hair is important.  I respect that.  And I want them to see that I respect that.

A while back, I had braided Lucy’s hair in two french braids down the sides, like I used to do for Eleanor.  It was a very simple style, but looked pretty cute.  An African-American woman was behind me in line at Target and asked me if I did it myself.  I hesitantly answered yes, not knowing what was coming next.  And then she began to gush about how great it looked and that she couldn’t braid at all and so her daughter’s hair was always a mess.  I felt a wave of relief and then a jolt of pride.  She may not have African-American hair, but I’m doing something right anyway.  Who cares if she sometimes looks like this after nap time?

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