This morning I made egg sandwiches for Bill and Julia. I'd put Julia's hair in a ponytail so she wouldn't get egg in it, and after that, I went by her and past the end of the dining room table toward the windows so I could open them and let some cool air in before the humidity took over.
I rounded the end of the table, and scattered on the floor I saw hair. And a pair of red-handled children's scissors.
Mouth agape, I turned to look at Julia, the question "Julia, why did you cut your–" barely spoken, and I saw this:
See it? The hair that DOESN'T fit in the ponytail? I hadn't noticed it when I put her hair up minutes before, and I'd also been walking around on the other side of her when I served her egg sandwich.
Initially my reaction was to keep scissors out of her reach for the rest of her childhood, but while Bill was putting scissors up on top of the pie safe (where she'd easily get to them using a stool stacked on a chair when we weren't looking), I decided to find out why. I'm big (sometimes) on why.
So I sat down with her at the table and gently asked WHY she'd cut her hair.
And in a small voice, her little eyes brimming with a few tears, she said "Because I want to be a boy."
I remember that feeling. Like it would be SO much better to be a boy.
And so I told her that cutting her hair wouldn't turn her into a boy. And besides, she was just as strong and smart and brave and awesome as any boy.
She didn't seem all that convinced, but the issue kind of fizzled anyway. I held her adorable little face in my hands and looked into her big blue eyes and told her that she was perfectly wonderful exactly the way she was – as a girl.
She said "Who do you think likes to play with the toy mice more, Scratchy or Softie?"
I tried to make my point a couple more times but she had already switched gears and was kind of past the boy thing – or at least past wanting to discuss it.
So I asked her if she really, really, really wanted short hair. Because once it's cut, you can't glue it back on.
And she said she did.
And I asked her again, just to be sure. And I used my Really Serious Abuot This voice, too.
She said she did.
I said that if she really really really wanted her hair short, (and I also told her she was NOT going to have hair as short as Alex's) I could call Auntie later and see if she could do it.
She liked that idea.
So a bit later, I talked to my sister and explained the whole thing, and she said she'd be home all afternoon.
After lunch, Julia took a bath and I washed her hair and combed all the tangles out.
And then we were out the door and on our way. (I asked her a few more times – really really sure? She still was.)
"Look at me, Mom! Aren't I walking like a big girl?"
I had her stand with her back to me so I could take a picture of her hair. It's still wet from her bath.
When we got to my sister's house, Julia petted Ozzie, one if the cats, while I snapped a few more pictures of her still with long hair.
It's funny. I remember it was (or seemed like) a HUGE deal when I got my hair cut short for the first time. And I was…let's see…eleven. It was the summer between fifth grade and sixth. If I find a picture of myself (because of course my father took before and after shots) from that time, you'll never know because I have no desire to post it. Sorry.
You'll just have to enjoy the Julia transformation. She's way cuter anyway.
On the ride down, I thought about what to do with her hair, and rather than just sweep it into the trash, I thought we could donate it to an organization that makes wigs for people undergoing chemo or something. As luck would have it, when we got to my sister's house, her neighbor, Joan, was outside and she and I were talking about the Big Day for Julia, and she suggested Locks of Love. So that's one I'm considering. Any other suggestions? The ponytail we've got is over 10" long, so I know most places will take it. If you've got another organization you support, or you've donated to, please let me know.
We went inside, Meredith (my sister) fixed some celery and peanutbutter for Julia, found a channel to keep her entranced (and sitting still), and then, it was time.
Part of me expected to get all teary-eyed about this. I've been the one determined that Julia's hair would remain long. It seemed so much a part of her. The long, wild mane seemed to represent her bold, fiesty nature. She'd stand there with her little hands on her little hips and toss her hair off of her shoulders while trying to boss Alex around or something. Like Sampson, Julia's hair gave her strength.
Except that that's ridiculous.
And knowing Julia, it wouldn't matter where we hid the scissors. She'd find them if she really wanted to, and she'd cut her own damn hair if she wanted to.
Much better, then, to at least have my sister do it so it would look good.
And so out came the scissors.
And after hacking through the hair, a few layers at a time,
The ponytail was off.
"Look, Ma! No hair!"
After that, I put the ponytail in a plastic bag and my sister got to work tidying up the rest of Julia's hair.
That's Natalie grabbing a piece of raspberry Entenmann's coffee cake. Julia is still glued to the Scooby-Do marathon my sister found for her to watch.
This next one came out very blurry, much to my regret. I love the angle, and the look on her face.
And that was one portion of Julia's Big Day.