When strangers approach me it’s either a conversation about Little Lady being “so cute” or beating around the bush asking to see if she is my child. The hubs and I try and raise the kids as normal as possible but the reality is we are both new to each others heritage and traditions. From how to cook certain dishes to learning to do my daughters “ethnic” hair (BTW I don’t like that term “ethnic” why can’t it just be described as curly thick hair? That’s discussion for another day) Raising our kids with all that our cultural traditions entail can be complicated when they aren’t shared. Luckily. the hubs and I agree on many things and it’s easy to compromise between us especially with radical superstitions I tend to believe are traditional to my heritage.
I believe in the superstition known as Mal Ojo or Evil eye. This is when a stranger admires something or someone and leaves behind the desire to touch and therefore causing irritability specifically to a child. It’s like being called off by the desire. Kids aren’t able to find comfort to sleep. They become restless and sometimes get ill.
Even worse when it comes to hair we believe that it must be touched… not by petting the child but by touching the hair so that the child’s hair continues to grow healthy and beautiful. Sounds crazy I know, but after believing this for so long and seeing some type of proof like seeing my relatives kids get lice or have hair fall out. I rather play it safe, swallow my embarrassment, and ask strangers to please touch my daughters hair. This all while hoping they don’t “pet” her but caress her hair! There is a difference!
When it comes to my kids I am pretty protective as any parent would be. There are times when strangers come up to my kids and I get a weird vibe but I shrug my shoulders and keep it moving. Then there are other times when strangers will come too close to my kids while politely telling the hubs and I how adorable our kids are or how well behaved they seem. We nod and thank them. It all seems pretty normal right?
Wrong! This is where cultures clash and things can get pretty intense.
I’ve been told by many in my husband’s family and other friends who are Black that grabbing hair, approaching to grab or asking to grab hair can get you into serious issues. Hair is not a joke! The hubs has been even been asked if his hair can be touched. He believes it isn’t as big of a deal with males as it is with females in the Black community. So to him his observations are just that people are curious but curiosity doesn’t mean being disrespectful and invading someone’s personal space. I agree! We both agree that kids being touched or petted is just crossing the line and when people ask to touch my daughters hair it’s kinda strange.
So here are two scenarios:
Say a stranger comes up and starts showering our kids with compliments and touches our kids. Hair is one of the most popular things strangers are attracted to with our kids. It happens more often with little lady than little man. The hubs and I agree that it makes us feel as though our kids are being petted while I am sure strangers mean no harm… it is a bit weird. I don’t go around pinching kids cheeks because they are cute so I don’t expect it to happen to us.
But when a stranger comes up to shower us with compliments without reaching for a handful of hair, I will be honest, I politely ask strangers to caress my kids hair especially little lady’s long curls …. based off superstitions. Sounds hypocritical and way crazy but to me it’s doing it on my terms and I don’t feel like my kids are being petted.
My Mexican roots are filled and intertwined with many superstitions. Luckily, I have a supportive and understanding husband. While many may roll their eyes at my strange request, the hubs knows how important this is to me. I sometimes question if this is something I really want to pass on to my daughter. There is enough she needs to identify with and deal with if you will.
Do you believe in any strange superstitions? What are your thoughts on strangers complimenting your children while going in for some contact or “petting”?