Why I Have Never Cut My Daughter’s Hair

Why I Have Never Cut My Daughter’s Hair

By Lela Casey


I resigned myself to the fact that, without that ginger gene, I was just going to have to accept a life of passivity.


I was the kind of girl who could usually be found tucked away in a corner with a book, my long dark hair hanging over my face, an impenetrable wall of protection against the world.

Books weren’t entertainment for me. They were friends and lovers and mysterious rabbit holes. They were a way to escape the almost impossible task of socializing with my peers. They were a validation that being “weird” or “different” was OK, and perhaps even necessary to leading a novel-worthy life.

Literature was so entwined with my childhood that I often have trouble separating my own memories from the stories I read long into the night.

There were many characters that captured my heart. Sarah Crewe from A Little Princess, Prince Dolor from The Little Lame Prince, Sara Louise from Jacob Have I Loved, Meg Murry from A Wrinkle in Time, and so many others.

And then, when I was ten years old I discovered Anne of Green Gables and nothing would ever be the same. Like me, Anne loved to read and had a magnificent imagination. But, Anne had something else. Something I thought I never would possess. FIRE!

She was strong and passionate and no one, not even the boy she was so obviously in love with, could diminish her flame.

I didn’t just love Anne Shirley, I wanted to BE Anne Shirley. After reading the entire series of books over a few weeks I convinced myself that I, too, could be brave. So, I mustered up all my courage to try using a bigger voice and standing up to the many bullies who ate shy bookish girls for breakfast.

But, my soft voice cracked and those bullies were relentless and finally I had to admit to myself that I just didn’t have that fire.

Where did it come from then? Was bravery inherited? Developed? Earned?

I thought about the people who I knew who were fiery….. both in literature and in real life. A pattern began to emerge. Pippie Longstocking, Annie, my cousin from Israel… Red heads, every one of them.

I resigned myself to the fact that, without that ginger gene, I was just going to have to accept a life of passivity.

The years went by. I did eventually grow my soft voice into, if not a fierce one, at least a confident one. I learned to stand up for myself. I developed passions. I stopped hiding behind books. I became a mother of a bright, enthusiastic little boy,

One day another mother at the park falsely accused my 3-year-old son of taking her daughter’s toy. She ripped the toy from his hand and yelled angrily. Without a moment’s hesitation, I marched up to her, looked her right in the eye and demanded that she back off.

The voice that came out of my mouth that day shocked me. Looking at my little boy’s scared face, realizing it was my job to protect him, allowed me to finally overcome my genetic deficiency and be brave without having red hair.

Around the time I started to feel this fieriness developing inside of me I became pregnant with my third child. I was already a mother of two little boys and I couldn’t even let myself dream that this (my final child) could be a girl.

Seeing my daughter may have been the most powerful moment of my life. Not only was she the most perfect, most beautiful, most girliest creature, but from the top of her head rose one glorious red curl.

My daughter is 6 years old now. Her long auburn hair hangs well below her waist. She is sweet and smart and fiery … oh lord is she fiery! Sometimes I look at her and wonder if she is the manifestation of all the passion of my recent years, or perhaps the product of a genetic shift that came from my reading Anne of Green Gables so frequently.

Whatever the cause of her spirited nature, it absolutely delights me. She has already won all the battles I was too afraid to fight, earned respect from all the bullies I was too timid to stand up to, and demanded all the rights I never would have dreamed of asking for.

She is my very own Anne Shirley.

Managing a 6-year-old’s long hair is not easy. Especially one who loves to roll in dry leaves, dance in mud puddles, and burrow head first into the sand. We have long emotional battles every time a hair washing is imminent. But, each time I mention so much as a little trim, she melts down into angry tears.

“You CAN’T cut it. My hair is wild like me, Mama. It matches my insides.”

Lela Casey was raised by a fiery Israeli mother and an all American father on a farm which often doubled as a resting place for foreign travelers and families in need. Her unconventional childhood has had a great impact on her parenting and her writing. She is a regular contributing writer at kveller.com. She has also written for themid.com, femininecollective,com, and jkidphilly.com.

Photo: gettyimages.com