Back in the day when my mom was solely in charge of my hair, I had a big cylindrical, Royal Dansk Danish butter cookie tin — you remember, the blue ones? Well mine wasn’t the standard size cookie tin you’re probably thinking about. I had a big one, taller than the regular ones, and it was FILLED with ribbons or rubans (pronounced “ROO-buh”) as we called them at home. That giant tin of ribbons…was for my hair.
I may have had every color and/or pattern imaginable, because my mom managed to coordinate ribbons with every single outfit (I have pictures to prove it!). It never occurred to me where, when or how we had accumulated so many hair ribbons, but apparently they were a “must have” among young Haitian girls. In fact, I remember I could always point out a girl with Haitian parents by the type (usually wide) and quantity (usually more than 2) of hair ribbons she wore.
Every morning, I would sit between my mother’s legs and get my hair done and my ribbons put in. I don’t remember hating the ribbons, but I do remember them coming undone often, it was just a part of my world.
Today I’m solely responsible for my two year old daughter’s hair. I dread having to do her hair weekday mornings – especially since I’m also trying to get my two other young sons together for school, so I find that I often put cornrows or flat twists in her hair to save me time in the morning. Our ritual is a weekly one, in which we sit together and have a braiding session. She sometimes strings the beader for me, and when I’m done she shakes her beads with pride.
When I look at her hair accessories, I see jars of beads (and beading accessories), barrettes, ponytail holders, and a few ribbons (not as many, and not as thick) in a relatively small plastic butterfly case (that my mother bought her). I remember my big Royal Dansk tin, and the connotations of Haitian culture associated with it, and realize that the culture my child will remember when she thinks back on her young hair days will be the African-American one. It’s definitely not a bad thing, it’s just different…and in my case tres convenient.
Did you wear ribbons as a child? Did you have a tin, too? Do you put ribbons in your daughter’s hair? Tell me your ribbon story!