By 7:05AM, all lunch boxes, snack bags, and book bags were double checked and ready to go. I ran back upstairs to grab by shoes and I knocked on the kids’ bathroom door. Jordan was already downstairs which left Ayanna in the bathroom.
Knock. Knock. Knock.
“Ayanna, it’s time to go!” I called.
Hesitantly, Ayanna answered, “Ok, mom.”
Alarmed by her tone of voice and known to mom-intrude, I opened the bathroom door.
Ayanna was standing in front of the bathroom mirror and tears were rolling down her face.
I was confused. Literally 5 minutes prior, she was fine.
“Ayanna’s what’s wrong?” I asked.
She responded, “Mom, my hair…”
“Your hair? What’s wrong with your hair,” I asked.
The Saturday prior, my mother- in- law and I had taken out Ayanna’s box braids. And, on the day before, mother- in- law graciously washed, conditioned and blow-dried Ayanna’s hair. I completed the process by styling Ayanna’s hair with one of the only four illustrious styles in my 11- year- old daughter collection: a perfectly slicked down, bunned ponytail at the top and a not-so-perfect, bunned ponytail in the back.
Ayanna continued to stare at the mirror.
I asked once again, “Ayanna, what’s wrong with your hair? I just did your last night and you didn’t say anything about it.”
“But that was, yesterday. And on yesterday, I wasn’t going to school.” she responded.
“So, what does school have to do with your hair? I think your hair looks cute.” I said.
“But this girl named ……. is going to say something about my hair!” Ayanna exclaimed.
“WHAT??? Some GIRLLL is gonna say WHATTTTTTTTTTTTTTTTT about your hair?” I loudly rebutted.
Jelani overheard the conversation and ran up the stairs.
Calmly, he asked, “What’s going on?”
With my tone of voice at a 7 out of 10, I said, “Ayanna just said that she doesn’t like her hair because SOME GIRL IS GONNA SAY SOMETHING ABOUT HER HAIR…THERE IS NOTHING WRONG WITH HAIR….WE GOTTA GO! IT’S 7:10AM. DO YOU KNOW HOW MUCH HAIR SHE HAS???? I DON’T HAVE TIME TO REDO HAIR….”
Jelani, signaled for me to calm down. “Babe, calm down. Ayanna tell me what’s going on?
I gathered my work Crocs, phone, and marched down the stairs.
“Jelani, you got this, right? Cause I don’t think I’m gonna say the right things right now. It’s too early in the morning for all this drama…..Cause these raggedy little girls got the nerve to talk about somebody’s hair…. And Ayanna, you can’t be listening to them, either! You, hear me, Ayanna?”
I picked up my work bag, purse, and motioned for Jordan to get in the car.
“Jordan, get your lunch box and book bag. Let’s GO!”
“Mom, where’s Ayanna?” Jordan inquired.
“She’s coming. She’s talking to your dad. Get in the car! We’re gonna be late!!”
Jordan and I got in the car.
I needed to calm down. I needed to be rationale and realistic. I needed to teach a life lesson and empathize with my daughter’s feeling. I needed to not say everything that I was thinking.
“Holy Spirit, help me respond accordingly….please….cause I ain’t right at the moment!” I whispered.
Jelani opened the car door and escorted Ayanna into the backseat. Her tears were gone but her countenance remained solemn. We said our goodbyes and “I love you’s” to Jelani and pulled out of the driveway. We drove out of our community, onto the main intersection, and onto the interstate ramp. Other than Jordan’s loud crunches of Frosted Lucky Charms and slurps of Almond Milk, the first portion of the car ride was silent.
I glanced at the clock. It was 7:35AM. We were about 15 minutes into our 25 minute ride to school. I had to say something. Ayanna’s return to school needed to be pleasant and not consumed with thoughts of what some girl would say about her hair.
“Ayanna,” I called.
“Yes, Mom…” she answered.
“Tell me what the deal is about this girl talking about your hair,” I asked.
“Well, she says that I need to get my hair done or that my hair looks messy,” Ayanna responded.
“HOLE UP!!!!! HOLE UP!!!!!!!!!! HOLEEEEEEE UPPPPPPPPPPPPPPP!!!! Is this the girl that I’m thinking about? The little skinny girl that’s always running her mouth,” I shouted.
“YES, THAT’S HER,” Ayanna confirmed.
“But, Ayanna, her hair ain’t nevaaaaa done! How she talkin’ ‘bout yo and her hair is hardly ever neat???” I rebutted. (Don’t judge my petty mom moment! God is still working on me!!)
Ayanna shrugged her shoulders and responded, “I don’t’ know.”
I said, “Listen, Ayanna. First of all, you have beautiful hair! Secondly, I don’t do your hair for people. I do your hair based on three things: what’s affordable, what’s age appropriate and what’s healthy for your hair. I’ve neva evvvvvaaa sent you to school looking a hot mess. I’ll walk around lookin’ a mess before you do! “
I continued, “You can’t let nobody get the best of your emotions like that! Is she THEE Jesus of Nazareth? I think NOT! It’s not even 8:00AM and you’re upset about something somebody said and that girl doesn’t give a crap about you. You don’t even like her. She’s not even your friend. A friend wouldn’t do that to you. Anyone who makes someone else feel small so they can feel big is not someone you need in your life! Are you listening to me?”
“Yes, mom. I’m listening,” Ayanna responded.
I continued again, “Do you see my friends treating me that way? Is this girl someone you want to be your friend?”
“No, mommy….,” Ayanna said
“You heard mommy, Ayanna, that girl is not your friend! She’s horrible!” said Jordan in the Amen Corner.
“You gotta know that you are beautiful. The Bible says that you are fearfully and wonderfully made. Your hair is gorgeous. You are kind, intelligent, strong, caring, talented and you are the coolest girl I know! This girl may talk about your hair. But there will be people that will say worse things about you. Everybody is not gonna like you. You can’t pay attention to them or let them get you down. We gotta get this together because you’re getting older. And your mommy, daddy, Nana , and Auntie Ashley are crazy and we don’t know how to ‘ack’!”
Ayanna and Jordan laughed. Ayanna’s disposition had changed from solemn to lighthearted.
“So what do I do if this girl…..says something about my hair?” Ayanna inquired.
I paused. I’m talking about a whole intercessory prayer, minute pause. (Insert Tasha Cobbs singing, “Fill Me Up, God”) I was surely full of fleshly mommy.
“Mom?” Ayanna asked.
Jordan inquired as well, “Mom, don’t you hear Ayanna calling, you? Are you paying attention?”
“Yes, I’m coming. Ayanna…Ummm, you tell that girl to…ummm….. If that girl says something bout yo’ hair, YOU TELL HER TO MINNNEEE YOOOOOOOOOOO BIZZZZZNESSSSSSSS, GIRLLLLLLL!!!!” I responded.
Ayanna and Jordan burst out laughing. I was dead serious. But they found me to be hilarious.
Ayanna fought through her laughter and inquired, “Huh? I don’t understand.”
In my authentic, Black girl neck roll, lip smack, eye roll, finger snap, I said “You tell her to MINNNEEE YOOOOOOOOOOO BIZZZZZNESSSSSSSS. Your face, hair, body, bookbag, shoes, uniform is NONE OF HER BUSINESS. She needs to focus on school and worry about herself!!!”
Still laughing hysterically, Ayanna said, “Mommy you did that like Tyra Banks. You had the neck roll and all!”
Jordan said, “Mommy said, Mine Yo Bizness! That’s not even the right words. It’s MinDDD YOURRR Businesssss, Mom. Mind YOURR Business!!”
I said, “Thank you for the grammar lesson, Jordan. I’m glad to know that you are paying attention at school. And, that our hard-earned money is not going to waste. But I meant what I said. You tell her to MINNNEEE YOOOOOOOOOOO BIZZZZZNESSSSSSSS, GIRLLLLLLLLL. Practice with me Ayanna…”
In her best, ‘I’m trying hard not to speak proper English disguise,’ Ayanna repeated, “MINDDDDDDDDDD YUUUUURRRRRRR BUSINESSSSSSSSSSS!”
“Good! You got it!” I applauded, “But, say it with some attitude and confidence!”
“MINDDDDDDDDDD YURRRRRRRRR BUSINESSSSSSSSSSS!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!” Ayanna and Jordan repeated.
The latter part of the car ride to school was filled with choruses of ‘MINDDDDDDDDDD YURRRRRRRRR BUSINESSSSSSSSSSS!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!’ and extreme laughter.
We had finally arrived in the school parking lot and made our way into the drop off line. We said our morning prayers. And, Ayanna and Jordan exited the car for class. I slowly eased the car forward and watched them as they walked towards the school doors. As Ayanna approached the school door, I yelled for her attention.
Ayanna looked back and responded, “Yes, mommy?”
I silently, mouthed “ MINNNEEE YOOOOOOOOOOO BIZZZZZNESSSSSSSS, GIRRLLLLLLLLL!!!!”
Ayanna proceed to laugh and walked into school.
The Holy Spirit had saved me once again! Thank you, Jesus!
I exited the student drop off line and out of the school’s gate. As I drove onto the main intersection, the Holy Spirit said to me, “ Now, you MINNNEEE YOOOOOOOOOOO BIZZZZZNESSSSSSSS, GIRLLLLL!”
My internal response was that of Ayanna’s, “Huh??”
I inquired further of the Holy Spirit, “What does the conversation that I had with Ayanna have to do with me?”
The Holy Spirit responded, “EVERYTHING! Keep your eyes, heart, mind, focus, and desires on everything pertaining to YOU! If it’s not pertaining to you, my plan for your life, your husband, your children, your family, your bank account, the directions or seasons in which I have you – it doesn’t deserve your acknowledgement or energy.”
I knew exactly what He meant.
Inwardly, I had been in a rut of insecurity – secretly comparing facets of my life to that of others.
Confident on the outside but shaky on the inside.
The Holy Spirit was telling me to stay in my own lane. He was telling me to run my own race. The Holy Spirit was telling to me to know my role, my individual level of commitment….my timing…to stay tuned into my God-given path….to continue to surrender my shortcomings…to exchange my weaknesses for His strength…to stop wondering and trust His love and intentions for everything concerning me……to prioritize my health and relinquish the burdens of others….to guard my heart , thoughts and emotions …to be rooted and grounded in the Word….to be consistent, authentic and free…to maintain a disposition of gratitude and worship.
The Holy Spirit was telling me to comment less and pray more…..
to judge less and pray more….
to assume less and pray more….
to scroll less and pray more….
“MINNNEEE YOOOOOOOOOOO BIZZZZZNESSSSSSSS, Margaret.” That’s what He said to me. And, in this new decade, this 2020, the year of our Lord Jesus Christ who died on the cross for my sins and rose again on the 3rd day- that’s just what I’m trying to do.
Thank you, Lord, for the reminder.
Thank you, Ayanna, for the teachable moment.
And, thank you, raggedy little girl……you let the Lord use you in a mighty way. But don’t try me or my kid…..YOU DON’T WANT NONE!
Photo Credit: Suad Kamardeen