Ella’s school had an assembly last year about an initiative for students to participate in “Rock Your Locks”. It was an opportunity for students to grow their hair over the year and donate it to make wigs for kids with cancer. We talked about it for a brief minute and Ella decided she wanted to participate. It was one of those moments where you get that proud feeling as a parent. I was so impressed considering Ella has always been such a girly girl wanting long Rapunzel-like hair. She has never gone for a hair cut that was more than just a basic trim to get rid of the dead ends. So the goal was set, she would continue to grow her hair over the next year and it would be donated the following year.
Over this past year, having her participate gave us an opportunity to use it as a starting point to discuss some of the more sensitive topics. I struggled with some of the topics such as “why do people get cancer?”. We have always made a point to not skirt around uncomfortable discussions with Ella and be as honest as we could about things (of course tempered to ensure it was appropriate for a 6yr old). Within this past year as well I had a colleague at work who expectantly was diagnosed with a very aggressive cancer who Ella was used to saying hi to every week. We discussed why “Mr. N” was no longer at his desk each week because he was in the hospital getting treatment. She learned that the treatment for cancer made people’s hair fall out and how what she is doing with her donation would help kids especially not be self conscious going out if they had a wig that looked like their own hair. She was determined more than ever to help out all so that kids would not feel bad or sad about their hair. Again, another one of those proud moments. Of course she can’t grasp the whole meaning of what it means for one to have cancer but she can relate it to sad feelings and being sick for a long time. This was enough for her to understand the impact of doing something nice to help even if it was a small gesture. Donating her hair became something she was proud of, explaining it to our friends and family her new mission.
We’re happy to report that her hair is 8 inches shorter now and on it’s way to becoming a wig for a little boy or girl! It was the first time Ella had more than a trim. I was a bit nervous that she might be upset with cutting off so much of her hair, but nope – she had no issues at all. We were also impressed at how much support there was from both boys and girls at her school participating in the hair donation – it was so amazing to see!
Going through this was such a wonderful experience. It really allowed us to talk about the really tough issues in a positive way and also taught her how to do something for others. We’re looking forward to doing it again in two more years – time to get growing!
Watch the video documenting the eventful day!
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