Wednesday, January 7, 2015

Autism Answer: Offering and Accepting Help (A Story About A Boy And His Sheepy Hair)

Baby Declyn and his wildly soft curls!

When Declyn was really small his hair was distractingly delightful! As his curls grew big and shiny we adored and complimented and ran our fingers through them obsessively. We'd never had anyone in our family with such interesting hair!

But then he got a little older, and his hair often looked terrible. Well, not terrible, but un-cared for. It was different, as I mentioned, and I just never knew what to do with it!

I'm a white chick with thin, straight hair and I've never been good at hair stuff. My own is almost always just stuck up in a ponytail. My son, Declyn, is white and black, but his hair is pretty much black. It's fantastic! Everyone in our family is addicted to losing our fingers into the deep cozy tangles of his head. But I'll admit, there were a few years where the tangles became horrible rats nests and it wasn't so lovely anymore.

The thing is, he loved having an Afro, but I didn't have any idea how to take care of it. 

Declyn and his wildly unkempt afro!

One day his friend's, mom's, friend was visiting from Jamaica and offered to fix it for us. We rejoiced and she showed me how to take proper care of his very different than mine hair. I comfortably admitted the things I didn't know, and she comfortably showed me and explained what she did know. 

As we played in and oiled his hair together she smiled at me and admitted, "I meet white moms who don't know how to take care of their black children's hair all the time. Mostly I can't help them because I don't want to say anything rude. Thank-you for letting me help you."

I could have kissed her! Not only was I more than happy to let her help me, my son looked amazing!!! His hair soon became even more addictive to our fingers.

Declyn is now fourteen and I no longer take care of his big head of hair, he does. He does it with confidence and pride. He does it with a professional flair that he may never have had if a visiting woman from Jamaica hadn't been willing to possibly seem rude by offering to help me know something I obviously didn't know.

She was brave, and I was brave. She offered (kindly) unasked for help that I willingly admitted (comfortably) I needed.

I'm not a fan of unasked for judgements, but I adore unasked for offers of help. As long as they always comes with a comfortable willingness to hear and accept, "No thank-you."

There are so many moms, dads, and individuals in the world who know nothing about how to help people who are "different". It's true, and it's okay. But it's also true that there are so many moms, dads, and individuals in the world who have learned and know a lot about how to help people who are "different". 

Declyn's cousins looking everywhere for him.They wanna touch his sheepy hair!

With kindness and courage we can help each other. We should help each other!

If I hadn't got help with Declyn's hair all of those years ago, I may have consistently cut all of it off and dropped hints to my adorable kiddo that made him feel as if it's the only thing we could do with his hair. Honestly, I had already begun to do that. He may have grown to dislike his own natural and neat head of--what his twin cousins call--"Sheepy hair". How sad that would have been!

As we grow and groom our "different" sons, daughters, siblings, and friends--we, too, may drop hints that make them feel as though they wish they could cut away part of themselves. As though part of them is just too hard to untangle or understand. Yikes! No! Let's not do that!

The courage it takes to offer and accept help is real. 

As are the dangers of not doing so.

Please, do so!

And go ahead.... ask if you can run your fingers through Declyn's sheepy hair! 

It's fabulous and he loves it!!!!

Hugs, smiles, and love!!

Autism Answers with Tsara Shelton (Facebook)

My hubby with Declyn - I love showing off my family!