On Monday afternoon, J and I had an appointment right after school, so by the time we arrived home, M was halfway through the online registration process.
“I’m shaving my head on Saturday!” she announced.
“Do you really want to shave your head on Saturday?” I asked.
“I don’t just want to: I’m doing it. It’s going to be great.”
“But. . . but, honey, it’s your crowning glory!” I mock-wailed, laughing.
I laugh when I’m uncomfortable. I was stalling with a joke. But I was not entirely joking.
And M? She was absolutely serious.
For those of you who haven’t heard about it, St. Baldrick’s Foundation is “a volunteer-driven charity committed to funding the most promising research to find cures for childhood cancers and give survivors long, healthy lives.” Folks raise money by signing up as “shavees” at a St. Baldrick’s head-shaving event. Instead of, say, running a 5K, you pledge to shave your head bald. It’s a way to show solidarity with children who’ve lost their hair as part of their cancer treatment, but it also becomes a fun event, with people teaming up to go bald together, along with general merriment like face painting and live music. Locally, there’s been a St. Baldrick’s head shaving event at Proctors for the past few years each spring. Back when a girl in our neighborhood first had cancer, many neighbors joined the event. Since then, she’s gone into remission and the event continues to grow. Her younger brother is in M’s grade, so several boys from M’s class have been devoted “shavees” for years. Years back, I’d even mentioned that I thought that shaving their heads would be a cool thing if the girls ever wanted to do it. The girls pretty much said no way.
Come to think of it, when I suggested that we set up an appointment for a spring trim to get rid of those split ends, the girls thought that that was a bad idea, too. “I want my hair to grow really, really long,” M declared. Prior to Monday, that was her last word on the topic of hair.
But a week or two ago, I learned that a piece of J’s artwork had been chosen to be featured in a new part of St. Baldrick’s: an art exhibition where folks can donate or possibly even bid in an auction for a piece of artwork. We were thrilled for her and proud, and next thing you know, I’d gotten myself signed up for an afternoon of volunteering. I’d never attended St. Baldrick’s and don’t really know the organizer very well, but somehow I got an email asking for more volunteers. And knowing that I’d need to drop by, anyway, to check out J’s art, I said that I’d help. I’m very excited to see the art, actually: J brought home a painting recently that was so awesome that I’ve set it aside to frame. It turns out that the piece she took home was the practice piece for what’s going in the exhibition.
So we were already planning on going to St. Baldrick’s when M announced that she planned to go bald.
Now, here is the thing. Part of me wanted to say something like: “No, don’t try to raise money for children’s cancer research because your hair is just too pretty.”
But do you know what would happen if I said that? An unmarked vehicle would park in front of the house, my doorbell would ring, and people in dark suits would forcibly remove my Good Parent card, cut it into small pieces, and scatter it all over our lawn.
I have been telling my daughter that she should take opportunities to help others and be a leader. I’ve been telling her that her beautiful* hair and lovely face are good fortune, not accomplishments. I’ve been telling her that beauty is more about being kind than being blonde. We have been trying to raise the kind of individual who would happily shave her head for a good cause. And now that we have, it’s going to be hard not to cry when she does it.
Which is ridiculous when you consider that on Saturday we’ll literally be surrounded by people who’ve been affected by childhood cancer. People who have suffered and lost children. So what glorious good fortune we have, this luxury to spare a moment mourning over something as trivial as hair. We have two healthy children who also happen to be wonderful girls. This is M’s choice, and it’s a choice that makes me so proud. She is awesome. So if you happen to be there and I do cry, just assume that they are tears of joy.
Okay! So I got all through that gut reaction followed by Good Parent reaction fairly quickly, and then I decided that if she’s going to do this, we’d better make it count. So I got her to pose for a “before” photograph that highlighted her hair swept all over her shoulders for maximum donor impact, she started calling her grandparents, and Cute W and I shared her donor page on Facebook. What, you’d like to see the donation page, complete with a current photograph of her face and hair and a name and everything? I thought you’d never ask! Here it is. Please give money! It’s a great cause!
At one point, because there are so many neighborhood boys involved, Cute W ventured, “. . . Do you think that this is boy-related?” After consideration, we decided that this is only boy-related in that she wants to beat all the boys (see also, Turkey Trot). The long, flowing blonde hair definitely offers her a big advantage there. Right now she is raking in the money and the adulation.
She’s funny, too. Early on I said, “I really think that you’re someone who can rock a bald head,” and she agreed, saying, “I’m going to make bald look good.”
Then the other day she said, “People keep on saying that I’m being brave, but it’s all these kids with cancer who have to be brave. I mean, come on! I’m getting a haircut.” Which is true, but I’m a little anxious that once the hoopla dies down and she’s living with no hair for a long time, that’s going to be tough for her. Whatever happens, it will definitely be a learning experience.
Meanwhile, since we’ve started spreading the word about M’s status as a shavee, we’ve found out that another girl from her grade, Leonie, is also shaving her head. It looks like she, too, is a late entry, and perhaps her family did not have a chance to drop everything and do a photo shoot and start Facebooking and Tweeting about their child, so if you want to spread the love and recognize another terrific and brave girl, here is Leonie’s donation page.
And yes, M’s hair is long enough that we’ll be able to donate some of it to Locks of Love.
Just a quick review, if you are wondering what you can do to support us in this hair-losing process. . . you can:
- Donate to M via her donation page.
- Donate to Leonie via her donation page.
- Share the pages with someone who might want to donate.
- If you see either girl a month or two from now when they are wishing the hair were back already, please tell them that they’ve done something awesome.
- Bid on J’s artwork without outbidding me.
- Buy me a margarita when my 4 pm volunteer shift ends. Or possibly 4 margaritas and some disco fries.
- Take a moment to appreciate your family’s good health and send out healing karma to the kids who need it.
Need more motivation? Watch a video:
I promise that whatever I write about next will not be about my family being virtuous. I know that that can get tiresome. I wouldn’t have chatted up Girls’ Circles if I’d known that this was coming, too, but my children like to go for the sneak attack.
*Holy crap that hair’s beautiful–it’s like sunshine and childhood spun into silk.