It's so simple to be wise.  Just think of something stupid to say, and then don't say it.     Sam Levenson (1911-1980)

Friday, October 17, 2008

Rapunzel, Rapunzel, Donate Your Hair

Elder Princeski had been weighing the idea for some time.  Seems all that hair was weighing her down.  I think she realized that with winter coming, curling into a nice warm bed, with cold wet hair, kind of defeats the purpose.

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....

מועדים לשמחה.

Keep the balance,



SuperRaizy said...

Kol Hakavod to your daughter!
And her new 'do does look very cute!

Anonymous said...

I'm actually in the process of growing my hair out to donate, too (4th time doing it, although not all donations I made were 10") and I'm 30. The think about cutting hair short is that it grows back. It may take some time, but it happens. And so sure, we may end up with a look we don't love (I've had a few as a result of doing this), but it's only for a few months, while a sick child will be able to feel less different than his/her peers for a few months. Kudos to your daughter for recognizing the bigger picture.

Bonus: I don't know you or your family, but one of the things I love about chopping my hair like that is a lighter feeling - not just outwardly, but inside, too. Long hair can pull a person down. I found that the first time I did this, I ended up smiling more, looking (and feeling) more approachable, and in general, being happier. Like I said, I don't know our daughter. But observe her and see if she seems lighter... it's amazing what a few inches can do!

shabbat shalom, and chag sameach!

Anonymous said...

apologies for all of my typos above. Clearly, I didn't proofread!

Mrs. S. said...

Kol hakavod to your daughter!

That picture with the planets puts a new twist on the halachah that one must be able to see the stars through the schach...

rickismom said...

Kol HaCavod! And a valuable lesson, too!

A Living Nadneyda said...

SR - Thanks! I'll let her know.

Anon. - Fourth time? Wow, that's a real achievement. The truth is, my daughter seems very happy with her new look, although she was a bit distressed at the beginning when she showed her friends and some of them were upset that she'd let go of all that hair... I think it was harder for them than for her. The friend who was at our house at the time was very encouraging and excited for her. I'll ask her about feeling lighter; I'm interested to hear what she says. She definitely spends (wastes?) less time looking in the mirror, doing her 'do - that's a plus!

Mrs. S - Didn't think of that one! That Guy I Married bought me that scarf in Tel Aviv about 12 years ago, and it's still around.... the kids love it.

RM - Thanks!

Moadim l'Simcha to all!

Baila said...

Kids helping kids. Your daughter and so many others like her hold a special place in my heart.

Beautiful Sukkah, beautiful child.

(And I'm adding this to Haveil Havalim.)

A Living Nadneyda said...

Thanks, Baila.

Batya said...

Wonderful gift and wonderful lesson!

the sabra said...

It's the kids, these days, who are inspiring me.

Lisha said...

YAY, Elder Princeski! You rock, young lady!!!

And, I'm so glad that someone else is blogging about hair donation in Israel.

I started growing my hair out to donate it to Locks Of Love while I was still in the US. Then, at the begining of this past summer I realized that my hair was finally long enough (and it was getting hot), but now that I'm in Israel I wanted to find an Israeli charity to donate my hair to.

I asked around, and found out about Zichron Menachem's wig project. I was so glad to be able to send my braids to them.

This sort of thing isn't really known about here, though. When I went to the salon and asked the guy who always trims my hair to braid it and chop it all off, he was first horrified and then thought it was a really cool idea. :)

A Living Nadneyda said...

Batya -- Thanks!

Sabra -- I agree.

Lisha -- I commented on your blog... email me.

To all -- I've passed all your comments on to Elder P.