So Clara got her first haircut today, and while all’s well that ends well (and, oh my goodness, the cuteness! this ended well), the beginning of the story was full of drama.
The story of our three-year-old daughter’s first haircut began late Sunday afternoon. I noticed on the way to church that Clara’s hair looked weirdly fuzzy. I didn’t think too much of it, as it is super cold and the air is dry. We arrived at church a little late, but the service was just beginning. We headed up to the balcony, and I chased down Clara to try to put her hair in a ponytail.
As I finished twisting the ponytail, I ran my hand down the length of it to smooth it out, and a huge clump — like four inches — came off in my hand. At first I wasn’t too bothered, but then I tugged again and more came out in my hand. It was like pulling apart cotton — it didn’t hurt her at all, and it was alarming how easy it was to pull out. And, the worst part was there was so. much. hair. It was seriously four or five inches of all her hair. I put what was left in a (thin) ponytail and sent her with Jason down to the nursery.
Then I started to worry. And, yes, all the texting and Googling and fretting I did over the next hour was during church. I’m not proud of it, but it was what it was. First, I texted my friend (and stylist) Emily: “Aaaaahhhh! I’m freaking out! I was putting a ponytail in Clara’s hair and like 4 inches was super fuzzy and totally just came off in my hands. Is this normal?!?!?!” And the short answer was, No, not normal, unless hair had been overprocessed. Well, we had used a new detangler, but somehow I didn’t think that was it.
Google offered a few plausible explanations for “the large majority of children who experience hair loss”: (1) a contagious ringworm — no scales, so we thought we were probably in the clear on that one but decided we better wash her sheets at home just in case; (2) alopecia areata, which is an autoimmune reaction that is hereditary — this seemed a very likely explanation, as Clara had recently been sick, and because my sister had this condition in college; (3) ponytails too tight, brushing too vigorously — nope, I think I’ve brushed Clara’s hair four times ever, including twice recently with the detangler I mentioned; (4) a vitamin and/or nutritional deficiency — I suppose, maybe? (5) stress (I wasn’t quite sure how this made a child’s hair fall out; I was skimming) — oh goodness, I yelled at the kids in the car today, do you think that could be it? (6) a thyroid condition — yeah, no way to test that right now.
At some point during the service, I decided I needed to go down to the nursery to get another look — did she have bald spots? Was it as bad as I remembered? She was happily playing and asked to be returned to her friends as soon as I had examined her head and found it to be in decently good condition. The remaining hair seemed firmly attached, and overall her hair looked thinner but no longer fuzzy. Maybe she did just have really fragile hair?
I went back upstairs and found a text from Emily that said she’d be happy to help if Clara’s ends needed to be evened up. I replied, “Ok. I was freaking out, so I went down to the nursery to check it out. She doesn’t seem to have bald spots, which I think may be good? But we’re not talking ‘evened up,’ we’re talking a full Bethany. Which I’m sure will be cute. When can I see you?” (“A full Bethany” is a reference to my friend Maralee’s daughter, who just got a super cute pixie cut a couple of weeks ago.)
Satisfied that I maybe needed to be concerned but not overly, I did try to dial back in for the last third of the sermon and the rest of the service. After church, I told a couple of my friends what was going on, and they too thought it was at least mildly troubling (and later told me they prayed for Clara that evening).
We got home from church, and Jason gave the kids a bath while I warmed up dinner. After the bath, Jason came downstairs with I don’t remember what kind of look (and I really wish I did because we’re getting to the climax of the story here!). Anyway, he said that he had another possible explanation for Clara’s mysterious hair loss (and if you’ve read this far, you may have already guessed by now): “Could it have anything to do, do you think, with the scissors I found on her bedroom floor?” When questioned about the incriminating evidence, Clara happily replied, “I cut my hair during naptime. Sorry, Mommy!”
I tell you, I was so relieved that I wasn’t even a little bit mad.
So many lessons learned here, the most important having something to do with the simplest explanation being the best. Perhaps I should have titled this post “Occam’s Haircut”?
It’s pretty hard to get this one to stand still or smile for a picture, but here’s a glimpse at the adorable denouement to this story.