Thursday, May 8, 2014

What You Don't Know

Your greatness is measured by your kindness; your education and intellect by your modesty; your ignorance is betrayed by your suspicions and prejudices, and your real caliber is measured by the consideration and tolerance you have for others.
-William J.H. Boetcker

My daughter had a playdate yesterday at her future new school where she will start kindergarten next fall. We saw some familiar faces, including a little boy I have noticed from a different class at her preschool. He is kind of hard to miss with his long flowing hair. Beautiful light brown hair with sun kissed highlights. It’s the kind of hair any girl would envy, with ringlets halfway down his back, but not too curly. I admit I did a double take the first time I saw him on the playground. He was running the way only little boys can- full steam, unstoppable, fearless. But he didn’t look like a boy. A few months later, I saw him again while a photographer was taking holiday portraits. He was posing with his little sister, who had a short bob. Strange. Clearly, his parents were making some sort of  statement, I thought. 

So yesterday while talking to this lovely woman, I realized she was the boy-with-the-long-hair’s mother. “Was the hair her son’s idea or hers,” I asked. She hesitated. Clearly, I wasn’t the first person to inquire or comment.

“People have a real problem with his hair. They either think we are some type of hippies or I have had other parents tell me it’s distracting and confusing to the other children,” The mom said, not entirely sure whether I fell in one of those camps. Then she told me the reason.

When her son was two, his sister was born premature and was put in a medically induced coma for weeks. This boy was spending a lot of time in a pediatric intensive care unit. With what I imagine to be the limited vocabulary of a two-year-old, he had questions about the many children without hair and somehow told his parents he wanted to share his hair with them. He hasn’t had a haircut since.

“We trim it, of course. Locks of Love likes it cut straight across. But he always tells us not to take off too much,” the mom said as I was summoned to the swingset to push.

Her daughter is healthy and thriving now. While her hair is still catching up, they keep it short. Her son is going to have his haircut this summer right before school starts. Soon, their family will blend in. He will look like all the other boys.

I’m glad I got to meet them before that happens.

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