Sunday, October 26, 2014

That's my girl

Throughout my pregnancy I worried. 

Would we make it to term? Would he/she be healthy? Would I know what to do with it once it was home? 

How would it affect our marriage? What if I couldn't do it. What if he/she got my legs and Jeff's arms and had to walk around like a chimpanzee?

Beyond the health concerns, my most common fear was if we would like each other.

My experience with newborns and infants wasn't great. I only really liked kids once they were able to communicate with words, if not complete sentences. I preferred those that could handle their own bathroom needs.

Thirteen years later, I still worry. The list is different but one from the past is missing: I really like her. And mostly she really likes me.

I'm not sure I've ever been more proud of her than I am right now, though. Folks who grew up with me know I've been surrounded by redheads since forever. Having her emerge with red hair was a shock to everyone, though. And her hair has been a remarkable feature since it grew in. My siblings and parents represented every shade from deep auburn to orange-y to Deb's mix of copper and gold.

Alison got the best of it all. Deb's color with wave and curl that you see in shampoo commercials. My stylist, Julie, did her best to match my "enhancements" to Alison's natural color but it's just not something you can recreate with science. 

One day we were heading home for a visit and stopped in to the Plainfield McDonald's. Alison was about four, I think, and wanted to order herself, so I gave her money and she marched up to the counter to make the transaction. In the car heading southwest, we unpacked the white bag to find an extra toy in her Happy Meal.

I wondered how that had come to be. She didn't even look up from sorting her nuggets in the back seat: "It's the hair, mom."

On Friday, for the first time in 13. 5 years of growth, those firey gold and red tresses got more than a trim. Ten inches or so of them were tied off into eight pony-tails and chopped. They're headed for Locks of Love. It was totally her idea, fully researched and planned out.

Our friend, Nicole, at Ado handled the cutting. No drama, other than me sneaking photos.

I'd worried that such a severe change in her look would be too much all at once and Nicole had joined me in counseling her about maybe going halfway and seeing if she was OK with it. Days earlier we were talking about it and she asked me if I was OK with the plan. 

"You know, Mom, I'm more than my hair," she said.

At the salon, she politely informed me that she didn't need me standing by the chair. In the few minutes it took me to relocate to the drying area, put down my purse and return with the camera, Nicole had gone to town and there was no going back.

We drove to Jenna's house right after to get their take. Jenna had really wanted to be with us but the girls' Fall Breaks didn't coincide and Amer wouldn't let me spring Jen early. Amid the squeals and gasps from Jenna, Amy, Lynda -- even Tom --  and me, Drew walks in. 

"Nice hair," says the 15-year-old.

No better compliment could have been laid down. She'd expected the girls to be ooh-y and aah-y. But Drew's understated remark sealed the deal.

I'm biased, of course, but I think the cut is really cute, too. Although now I'm worried that it's too cute. "I feel like I'm in college," she said. (Oy vey.)

I hope the new look and product that had to come wiht it means she'll actually want to style it a little bit. Even is she doesn't, the shortened snarls will be easier to tame. 

It doesn't really matter, of course. The hair will grow back or we'll keep it short. She'll do something with it or it'll be a shorter rat's nest.  What's important is there's a little girl out there who's lost her hair to cancer or some other terrible disease who needs a little boost of confidence. 

I hope she wears her new hair to a McDonalds and scores a pile of toys and extra french fries. 


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