On Erev Yom Kippur, for the first time since first grade, she decided it was time to go for a real chop. Nothing too drastic -- just below the shoulder. (To give you some idea, see the "Welcome to the Neighborhood" photo at right, where Elder P sits on the left end of the bench, her Rapunzel-like tresses trailing behind).
I'm not sure if it would have occurred to me to turn this event into more of an event, had I not been working with (chemo-induced) bald kids for nearly the past decade. But then suddenly, I remembered: Sick kids. Wig donation. Minimum length requirements.
Would Elder P still be interested? I explained the option, and she was.
Some background info: My daughter is familiar with my line of work, and knows a bit about pediatric cancer and its social-educational ramifications. I make an effort not to burden her in any way with excessive, threatening or scary knowledge to which most kids don't -- shouldn't -- be exposed. The difficulties and fears can be overbearing for us adults to contemplate, let alone children.
I also make a point of emphasizing to her that in many ways, sick kids are like all other kids. Like all other humans, they don't want pity. They still love to learn and play and draw and do all the other things kids do, although they don't always feel well enough to do those things. In fact, one day last year when I invited Elder P to join me at for a special event, I spent most of the car ride there reviewing this idea, until suddenly she cut me off --
I know, I know, Mommy. They're regular kids, they like regular things, but they're just sick right now.
Guess the message got through.
Back to our story. After a hasty run to the internet, we learned that the minimum length of hair accepted for donation is 25 cm. (That's about ten inches). I got out a ruler and measured, then measured again, and concluded that removing 25 cm would bring her hair down to slightly above her shoulders, not below. She was disappointed. She thought about it for a minute, and then turned around, Yes, yes yes!
Elder P has often displayed her altruistic tendencies in the past, and now I was worried that, in her enthusiasm to do good for someone else, she was making a hasty decision that she might later regret. I told her we weren't going to cut anything right now, but that she should go play with her friend, really think about it, and come back to me in an hour. I reminded her that if she should decide to donate her hair, it would be a wonderful thing, but that she was in no way obligated to give away something that was so important to her.
After half an hour she came back, so full of excitement she couldn't wait. We went out to our tiled courtyard, tied back her hair, brought out the ruler again, and... CHOP.
I think the results are quite cute, actually, and more flattering than her previous 'do. Here she is, hanging out in our Sukka.
As for the 25 cm donation, it sits in my work bag, awaiting delivery to a local NPO, who will have it incorporated into one or more wigs, and then presented to one of her temporarily-hairless peers. And who knows? Maybe in another four years, when it all grows back, she'll opt to do it again....
Keep the balance,