It was the beginning of December 2015, Christmas was in the air with songs on the radio, decorations, and childrens anticipated excitement. But I started to hear something else that wasn’t sitting so well:
“Mommy, I want this”, “Can I have this?”, “I need this too!”
So, I asked my 7 year old daughter “What do you plan on giving back in exchange for all these things you’re asking for?” She didn’t have an answer right away, but remained open and curious as we discussed the possibilities. We talked about buying toys with her allowance money, going through all her clothes and toys she no longer uses and donating them, making something for another child, etc.
Around the same time, we also started talking about her very long hair getting hard to manage and maybe needing a trim. I then pieced the two conversations together and shared with her the idea of cutting her hair and donating it to young girls who can’t grow their own hair and what a nice gift that would be to give another little girl for Christmas. Sophia was intrigued, but also really nervous with the idea of cutting all her hair off, so we left the conversation alone for a while to just think about as an option. When the topic came up again because of a friend’s daughter who recently cut her hair and donated it to Cancer, Sophia started being more curious. We explored what it would look like if we did cut it, looked up some organizations support this, how much would we have to cut off, etc., etc. Upon doing more research Sophia started getting more comfortable with the idea as she was gaining more insight and understanding to what a gift like this could really give to someone else. Finally, out of the blue Sophia announced to me one day “Ok mamma, I want to do this. I’m a little scared, but I’m ready.” so, we booked the appointment. I admired her courage for stretching herself into something that felt good and uncomfortable at the same time. We talked about her feelings so she felt heard and supported in knowing that if at any point she changed her mind, her decision will still be supported. I let her lead the way. We spent a lot of time talking about whatever came up as needed and as she starting growing more confident with her decision, I could start to feel her excitement as we picked The Angel Hair Network as the organization of choice to donate her hair. We both liked the idea that they support girls with various conditions (cancer, burnt victims, other diseases) and Sophia also liked the name because I always call her my “Angel Pie”. When the big day came, I picked Sophia up from Winter Camp on Thursday, December 17th and we went to have a hot chocolate and snack together before the appointment to talk and connect some more about this wonderful thing Sophia was about to do. When we walked into Donato Salon at Shops of Don Mills and told them what our intentions were, they brought us their most Senior Stylist (at no extra charge). The staff were very encouraging and supportive to Sophia who was clearly a little nervous but still courageous and determined in wanting to go through with it. She sat on the chair with no hesitation and once we decided what the final style would look like, the stylist explained to Sophia every step that was going to happen to ensure she was comfortable. ” I’M READY!” she declared, and her dry hair was put into two dry ponytails and 12″ inches was cut off – just like that! The Stylist then proceeded to wash, cut and style her hair into her new look. The anticipation of Sophia’s reaction to her new look had me wanting to chew all my nails off as I knew it could have gone either way at that point. But I sat beside her quietly and confidently,knowing she was absorbing whatever behavior I was modeling in that moment. We had talked about it, I empowered her in making her own decision about this, there were no surprises, and she knew she was fully supported in stepping into something different. I trusted everything would turn out beautifully, and that’s the energy I held for both of us. Finally, when all was completed Sophia was glowing! She had a smile ear to ear. In that moment, I knew she felt the real meaning of Christmas.
When we packed up the hair to mail it to Angel Hair Network as per their instructions, they also requested that a toonie be included with every hair donation to go towards their charity. Sophia went into her piggy bank and gave me $100 and said “mommy, I’d like to give $100 instead of $2. here you go.” So we packed it all up, went to the mailbox together and sent it off.
Two weeks after Christmas, Sophia got a letter back thanking her personally for her contributions, along with a Certificate of Appreciation. I knew in that moment by the look on her face that I had truly given her an experience she will cherish forever.