Sunday, January 25, 2009

Good hair vs. bad hair, hair thing: See I told ya so

For those of you who thought I was either making up the "good hair" vs. "bad hair" hair thing, or being overly sensitive, I found this video. It's a real thing.

Found on Shaudra's blog.

Friday, January 23, 2009

KT has discovered the "Good hair" vs. "bad hair" hair thing

When KT and my wife came home last night, KT quickly brushed past me and headed for the TV. My wife had a grim look on her face. "Have a closer look at your son," she said. As I approached him, the first thing that stood out to me was that his hair was rough, like it hadn't been combed all day. He looked like he'd been in a fight. Then I noticed several dime-sized bald spots in his hair, on the right side of his head. It's Alopecia areata, an auto-immune disease that attacks the hair follicles, I thought. I know about alopecia areata because I had a bad case of it about 7 years ago.

But it wasn't alopecia. Turned out, he'd been pulling his hair out.

KT has very rough textured hair. He's "nappy-headed" as we called it when I was a kid. And he's very "tender-headed," too. He yelps like an injured puppy dog when I comb his hair each morning. Sometimes he cries.

For this reason, I've always kept his hair cut very low. It's just easier to groom that way. But for the past year or so, we've let his hair grow because he complained about having to wear his hair so short.

When I asked him why he'd been pulling his hair out, he wouldn't answer. It didn't make sense to me. How could someone so tender-headed pull their hair out. Whatever the reason, I certainly couldn't send him to school like that, so I marched him upstairs and gave him a haircut. I cut it low, almost bald. Hair problem solved.

Well, maybe not.

While I cut his hair, I pressed him for an answer. I worried that it might be stress. Or psychological. Could a well adjusted kid who gets all A's on his report card be crazy, too? Finally he said, "I pulled my hair out because it was so tangled. Because everyone at school has soft, smooth hair. My hair is hard," he said. "Everyone at school has light-colored hair [blonde]. My hair is black. I don't like my hair," he said.

It was the Black hair thing. I know all about the Black hair thing. The "Good hair" vs. "bad hair" hair thing. It's kind of like the eye thing in the Asian community, except that the hair thing can be fixed with a $5 box of lye-mixed chemicals. Here's how it works: If you have straight hair, like White people, you're considered by many to have "good hair." If your hair is tightly curly — nappy — you don't have "good hair."

The "Good hair" vs. "bad hair" hair thing is a Black thing. And since there are only, maybe, 5 African-American students in his entire school, I'm not sure where it was coming from.

So, after I finished cutting his hair, he looked in the mirror and cried. Apparently, he hates bald heads worse than kinky heads. There was no win-win there.

I've been past the "Good hair" vs. "bad hair" hair thing for years. My hair is kinky, too, but I'm proud of my natural God-given hair texture. But I must admit, it took wearing dreadlocks to get to a comfortable place. Then I talked my wife — who swore by perms and relaxers — into wearing dreadlocks, too. And now she loves her natural hair.

So I'm wondering, will dreadlocks cure my son of the shame he feels for his hair? The better question is, will my son's school (Christian, conservative) be open to his wearing dreadlocks? Guess we'll find out.

Sunday, January 11, 2009

Camping on the Lexington

KT and I spent the night camping out with the Cub Scouts on the aircraft carrier, USS Lexington, also known as "The Blue Ghost." A portion of this Naval vessel has been refurbished and is open for touring, but most of the ship is unchanged since WWII.

The camp out was fun. We watched a movie in the theater which, at one time, served as the original forward aircraft elevator space. We also watched a flag ceremony, a very inspirational and poignant tribute to our current US troops and veterans, and listened to (true) ghost stories. Well, in all honesty, my son refused the ghost stories because he didn't want to have nightmares.

The USS Lexington brings to mind a giant, metal ant hill with its narrow passageways, steep stairwells, dark nooks and crannies. Even non-claustrophobics sweated the stairwells.

Our sleeping compartments, or berthing rooms, were several floors below the hangar deck. Getting to them required the dexterity of an earthworm. Here's how we had to get to our room:

First, you had to climb down this hole.

KT making the plunge...

Then you had to go through this passageway.

And through this one, too.

And then down this hole.

And here's our room. I slept on the bottom bunk. Comfy?

There were about 50 Scouts and leaders stuffed like sardines into a compartment about the size of your typical family room, three bunks per unit. I slept on a bottom bunk below my son, which required me to get down on my hands and knees, and then lower myself further to climb in. War is hell, but the sleeping arrangements, I imagine, are worse.

Since there were more than 600 Scouts, leaders and parents total (scattered in several berthing units throughout), I got up at 5:30 a.m., before bugle call, to beat the crowd to the bathroom. It was an experience my son and I will never forget.

My son and I have made many memories with Scouting, and I've come to the conclusion that misery is a main ingredient for creating long lasting memories.

Friday, January 9, 2009

The Lexington is haunted?

Tomorrow morning, KT and I will set off for Corpus Christi, where we will camp out overnight with the Scouts on the Aircraft Carrier, USS Lexington. My wife isn't going for two reasons. For one, women will have separate sleeping quarters from the men. And two, she says the ship is rumored to be haunted.

Now why'd she have to go and tell me that?

Monday, January 5, 2009

The next 30 days will be ugly

I returned home from vacation to a barrage of emails. I'd hoped for art requests, but they were mostly emails about Cub Scout business. I wasn't amused. I enjoy doing Cub Scouts with my son, but Scouts is not a once-in-awhile kind of thing. At least not with our pack. It's a way of life, daily.

In January, in addition to our weekly den meetings, we have an activity planned almost every weekend. A campout at the Lexington. Pinewood Derby. A leadership Pow-wow. A University of Texas Basketball game. All this takes planning and coordination and time. I don't have much time. I have sketches due soon. And I'd like to write and read, too. Grrr.

In addition, a major banquet is planned in February. Blue and Gold. This is when the boys "cross-over" and earn their next rank. It was originally decided that the boys would earn their rank in May, giving them time to earn their advancements at leisure. But now a request has been made that all the boys earn rank by the banquet. That will mean working on advancements daily for the next month!

Thankfully, The Best Kid in the World doesn't care about cramming every single day for the next month. He wants to enjoy the experience of Scouting without the pressure of meeting a deadline. When I asked him, he said, "It's Cub Scouts. I want to have fun and not be rushed."

Burden removed.

Now the problem is, appears the other Scouts want to earn their advancement in time to cross over. And even though The Best Kid in the World says he'd prefer to wait, his face will hang low on the night of the banquet when the other boys get their faces painted and earn their Wolf badges. Which means that in addition to completing sketches for my next book in one month, and interviewing 8 children's book creators for 28 Days Later, and squeezing in at least two small-hitting freelance projects, and visiting three schools, and knocking out at least one picture book manuscript, and his beginning basketball, and all the other Cub Scout stuff, I will have to figure out a way to work in four Cub Scout advancements. Daily. Even on the days I work at the paper.

Excuse me while I crawl under a rock.