My mother said roses have thorns because everyone thinks they're pretty, but if they let everyonr touch them, they'd die. She'd repeat it and the story of the rose that wanted to be useful so it turned itself into cabbage as she retwisted my hair. Her fingers gingerly pulling my hair, twisting it tightly, and clipping it are among some of my earliest memories. My parents weren't Rastafarians and didn't really listen to reggae music, but they both had dreadlocks for as long as I could remember. There are pictures around my house of my dad with a fade or an afro and my mom with a perm or box braids, but they seem so foreign. From about three years old, my mother and father would twist me and my sister's hair into locks. They'd be dyed, trimmed, curled, whatever we wanted. I was proud of them. In school, I'd play with my hair while we were reading and tie it into a ponytail when we had to run for gym class. Few people said anything about it. What could they say about my head? It's not theirs, so their opinions don't matter.
But, that was the 90s. Things have changed. The school I went to is part of a ridiculous law that says my kids can't have their dreadlocks. They have to make their hair "neat". The people who passed this law have obviously never gardened. They don't know that when the leaves of the shrub grow into some of the moat beautiful flowers. They are too obsessed with the control they think they have to even think about it. I think of this when I twist my oldest daughter's hair as my mother did mine. She's four now, soon to be five. I moved away long ago, so I don't need to choose between education and tradition. The little girls at my daughter's school compliment her hair, and she teaches them to love them from afar. Yet, my mind still wanders to why anyone would care what a kid's hair looks like, especially knowing that they wouldn't snip off roses and throw them away.