When I was in school, my brother had dark, thick, naturally curly hair. Our mom swears he inherited that from her dad, but I’ll just have to take her word for it – despite the fact that we all called him “Red”, as far back as I can remember, Grandpa always had straight white hair.
Of course since my brother came first and hogged all the good hair genes, I got stuck with sandy-brown, boring, uncooperative, mostly straight hair, and a giant cowlick right in the middle of my forehead. And of course I grew up in the 80’s when big mall bangs were THE thing. No amount of back-combing and/or hairspray could make my stupid hair stand up all day the way the popular girls’ bangs did, but I tried anyway. Usually I could get it to stand up for a few hours in the morning, but it was flopping over by lunchtime. That cowlick always added a little special something to the mall bangs look too. A sort of “Someone snuck into my room last night while I was sleeping and cut out a chunk of hair but I teased and sprayed my bangs anyway because I’m desperate to fit in with those bitchy girls who will one day write mean things about me in other people’s yearbooks” kind of thing. I never had a chance. I had the kind of hair that wished it grew up in the 60s when everyone grew out their bangs, parted their hair down the middle, and flat-ironed until any hint of a wave was beaten into submission.
I said something to my brother once about how I wished I had his hair (as if that would have made me less of an outcast somehow), and I think his response was something like “That’s only because you don’t have my hair.” I suppose all the curly-haired girls probably grew up wishing they had ordinary, straight, easy-to-comb hair like THEIR brothers.
My son was lucky enough to inherit Grandpa Red’s thick, curly hair (though his is blondish). My daughter on the other hand has my hair. Maybe it’s a recessive gene, or only activates in the presence of a Y chromosome. Who knows. Anyway, he has great hair. For a couple of years in elementary school he tried to have straight hair. Every time he went in to get it cut, he would select a picture from the haircut catalog and show it hopefully to the stylist, who would gently advise him that his hair would not look like the boy in the picture because it was curly. And he would insist on getting the haircut anyway, and then spend the next two-three months trying to flatten it out with a wet comb every morning before school. Thank goodness he finally outgrew THAT phase. Sometime last year, he decided he didn’t want to get his hair cut for a while. He thought maybe he would let it grow all winter (to keep his ears warm I guess), then cut it in the spring when it started to get too hot. But when spring came he decided to wait until after school was out. Then he just didn’t feel like it. And actually, it kind of works with the whole guitar-playing rock star look he favors.
I know some moms are probably like “Ew! Why didn’t you MAKE him cut it?!” To those moms I say “Why should I?” It’s his hair for crying out loud. As long as he keeps it clean, I don’t care if he wants to grow it down to his butt and weave dandelions into it.
But still, he did say he wanted to get it cut sometime, so I would ask him periodically if he felt like a haircut yet to which he would say “Not yet” and go about his business being a rock star. Yesterday he said he thought it was time for a haircut. So this evening I took him to a walk-in salon for the chop; he decided he wanted to have about 2 inches left. When we got there, I casually asked the stylist if she thought it was long enough to donate. While she was brushing out his hair she mentioned that she is a cancer survivor, and used to have curly hair before the chemo but now it’s straight, and the more she talked the more excited she got about his hair, saying what a fabulous gift it would be for some young cancer patient to have a wig made out of my son’s thick, curly hair. Sadly, when she measured the hair, we found he only has enough to donate if he shaved it off completely. There was much waffling about whether to cut it anyway, or wait a month or two until it was long enough to donate and still have some length. Finally he decided not to cut his hair today. We did get a teeny tiny trim though – just enough to keep the ends healthy so it will continue to grow out. The stylist gave us her card and BEGGED us to make an appointment with her when he’s ready because she LOVES doing donation haircuts and would be so sad if he got it done somewhere else. It was adorable.
I am so proud of him for deciding to donate his hair. I just wish he could see the smile on the face of the child who gets it next, so he could really understand the magnitude of his gift.