Monday, May 10, 2010

Her Hair-Brained Scheme

CHICAGO – The parade of pink clothing stretches along the baseball field’s perimeter from the deepest reaches of centerfield down past third base.

Thing 1, halfway through the annihilation of her first box of chips drowning in industrial DayGlo orange cheese sauce, clears an airway,  “Who are those people?”

pinkbats “I think they are people who had breast cancer. Since this is Mother’s Day, the White Sox are trying to raise awareness of a disease that tends to affect women and give people hope for a cure,” I say.

She digs back into her nuclear lunch and I return to filling out the lineups in my scorecard.

A few minutes and layers of glop later, Thing 1 has a new question.

“How long does your hair need to be to cut it off and give to kids?”

I set down my beer.

“You mean like Locks of Love? Where they make wigs for kids who lost their hair from cancer treatments?”

“Yeah,” she says.

“Do you want to do that?”

She nods and the Midwestern spring sunlight shimmers off the drops of florescent goo on the corners of her mouth. “My teacher said she’s going to cut her hair for kids," she says.

As we talk, I’m internally dumbfounded. Thing 1 has been avoiding a true haircut for several years to the point that it’s approaching the middle of her back. This has led to endless demands for her to pull back her dirty blonde locks so they will stop falling into her food, which is followed by calls for her to wash it and comb it more often to extricate the collected bits of breakfast (maple syrup, you are thy enemy!), lunch and dinner from the tangled strands.

In addition to her teacher’s decision and the sight of all these cancer survivors and their families proudly treading around the White Sox’ warning track, I’m wondering how much just being here in Chicago is influencing this discussion. We have been trekking here every few months now for more than seven years for her to met with specialists who make her stretch and crawl, and draw dozens of rubber-topped vials of blood and study her muscles and bones with magical machines that see so many things we still do not understand. I think back to that first solo trip the two of us took, on a wet late winter day, and how right before the appointment Thing 1 fell limp and feverish in her stroller, a staph infection coursing through her steroid-swollen body.

“… so I think you only need to let it go a few more inches if you really want to do it,” I hear myself say.

Without even the pause of half a heartbeat, she asks, “And how much do they pay?”


“How much money do they give you for your hair?”

“It’s a donation, honey,” I say. “You give it to them for free so they can help a needy child.”

“Dang,” she says, looking at the nacho ruins in the cardboard holder on her lap. “I wanted to make some cash.”

+ + +

As I’m typing this, several hours later in a hotel room two blocks from the twinkling lights and retail holyland of The Magnificent Mile, I interrupt Thing 1’s viewing of a third episode of 19 Kids and Counting about the Duggars’ attempt to bring their premature baby, Josie, home.

“You still want to donate your hair?”

She nods.

“Even though you don’t get paid for it?”

“Yeah,” she says.

I don’t ask why. I stroke her long, grubby mane -- just once because my ring finger gets snagged in a knot of sunscreen, sweat and sugar -- then tell her to hit the showers.


  1. My hair is almost long enough now to donate to Locks of Love. But I don't know if they want gray hair.

    A couple I know did this last year. Great stuff.

  2. Thats.just.the.sweetest.thing.ever. nothosearenottearsinmyeyeitsjustmymascarashutthehellup.

  3. Thing one cracked me up. But hey, if you are going to do something so selfless, it doesn't hurt to check first if there is a financial benefit to it.

    I like the way she thinks.

  4. She's a good girl with a good Dad. Be proud of yourselves.

  5. “And how much do they pay?”


    so close to being all charitable!!

    you need to get that girl a part time job. maybe babysitting or a mommy's helper. or a paper route.

    that's how you make pre-teen money.


  6. Jeez, she's funny. And not uncool. And all that nacho cheese imagery made me hungry.

  7. Thing 1 is awesome.

  8. Congratulations to Thing 1 for thinking of this. She really is a neat kid.

    (I did this a few years ago, before the grays necessitated the need for artificial highlights. It's a great thing to do.)

    PS. B.E.Earl - I think Lo'L will take gray hair, but they sell it and use the $ to offset expenses. At least they did.

  9. That's a very thoughtful child you're raising - good work.

    And yes, maple syrup is the enemy.

  10. Thing 1 has a pretty big heart for a someone so young. Good for her!

  11. I've told you before I don't cry. I know you're just posting this stuff to see when I'll crack.

    This almost did it for me.

  12. Hey I don't fault her to want money for that, it takes years to get your hair long enough!!! I "donate" plasma for $50 bucks a week!!! ;)

    Seriously though, very cool of her.

    Doing something right with those kids.

  13. Awwww!
    I hear you on the long hair thing. My daughter (who actually donated her hair a couple of years ago) has long hair - again - and MAN it gets on my nerves!!!
    But it looks lovely. :)

  14. That's Awesome of Thing 1 to WANT to do that!

    I had a little boy in my class last year that had his hair long...occationally he would get made fun of... until he told ppl WHY his hair was long.
    None of his peers seemed to have ANY words once he told them his hair would soon be donated.

  15. Good stuff.

    Looks like she has a good head on her shoulders. And it looks like you'll get a better view of it once the hair is chopped off!

    Great story!

  16. That's a smart and sweet kid you got there.

  17. I am growing mine out to donate too so if Thing 1 wants a hair buddy, let me know.....


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