Thursday, July 15, 2010

Forget not that the earth delights to feel your bare feet and the winds long to play with your hair.**

The culture of E's classroom is that girls' hair is celebrated. Each girl keeps a cosmetics bag of clips and rubber bands and brushes and combs. Occasionally E will ask for ponytails from me, but usually she goes to school with her hair down. After breakfast each morning, all the girls gather their notions and encircle Ms. B, who does their hair. I believe the entire hair culture originates with Ms. B, because she loves to do their hair. She will do and redo hair throughout the day: after water play and after nap and whenever a girl becomes concerned that her ponytail is slipping. She always compliments their beautiful hair, both to them and to their parents.

Ms. B talks to me about E's hair about once a week or so. The other day she said to me, "You know, E has one gray hair on top of her head."

I knew about the hair; it's a curiosity that's been there for as long as she's had hair. I wouldn't call it gray, exactly. I think it's more accurate to say that this one strand is colorless. It's a dawn-pale butter color on an otherwise brunette coif. It's an albino follicle. When I first noticed it I had to resist the urge to pluck it. It wasn't an issue of E's beauty or my projection of vanity or insecurity; it was a strand, though, that didn't belong, like a loose fiber on a sweater that disrupts the smoothness of the knit. I knew even the tiny action would cause E a moment of pain, though, and I couldn't hurt her for such an absentminded act. Over time I grew more mindful of the different hair, and now it's a talisman to find and greet whenever I part her hair. She had no hair for so long; we didn't even cut it at all until she was three years old. I know that each strand is special.

I don't think she even knows it's there.

Ms. B is originally from India. She continued, "You know in my country, a gray hair like that on a child is a sign of good luck. It mean her mother's love will always be upon her head."

What a lovely sentiment.

**Khalil Gibran Pin It


Corinne said...

That is a lovely sentiment :) And what a lovely story... and reminder that we don't need everything to look the same or be the same, the little differences can be appreciated as well.

likeschocolate said...

I guess I must have been well loved because my hair started going grey at 17 though you wouldn't know it because I keep my hair highlighted at all times.

Inna said...

I recently got a patch of grey hair that is hidden in the mist of my massive amounts of hair. I love it when I see them when I brush my hair or tie it up. I know it won't be long before the rest of the brown follows suit.

Lenae said...

How cool! I've never encountered any other parents with children sprouting "gray" hairs, but both of my older boys have them (the middle has two!) My husband and I have always joked that ours must be quite a stressful household if it produces graying in such young family members, but this story has produced a much more pleasant theory. Thanks for sharing!

wm said...

That is lovely.