Tuesday, July 23, 2013


Our grand holiday posts will have to wait until I can make sense of things (or figure a way to mainline coffee?)  This is the only one you're clamoring for anyway, right?  We nearly ran out of time....we snuck in a haircut for Thing 1 in our last few days in Bangkok.

The trip sometimes seemed like we were actually taking the kids HAIR on vacation.  

O and Hair in a longboat we took on the Mae Kok River from the tiny town of Than Ton at the Burma-Thailand border down to Chiang Rai, a 4.5 hour jaunt, a very cool way to travel.  Hair really enjoyed itself. So did we.

O and Hair on a pretty hideous train ride overnight ++ where we all had flashbacks to our  Johannesburg to Capetown trip where we sat on the still, silent, 'overnight' train all night long and came to Cape Town a full 10 hours behind schedule.  Oof.  I woke up from a sweaty fitful sleep on a tiny top bunk somewhere between Nakhon Sawan and Uthai Thani (a genuinely wild guess) realizing we were sitting on the track and would continue to site for another 3+ hours I was worried.  Did I mention sweaty?  I don't know if Hair enjoyed this particular trip or not but let's put the second class, non-AC overnight train in the 'experience' category.  We will not repeat it.  (The Jozzi to CT trip?  would do again in a heartbeat.) The posh and much cheaper overnight BUS experience?  Incredible!

Alright already, are you ready for what's next?  Hold onto your hats.

Time to make a change. A big change.

 Pre NVSC, here is TJ making a ceremonial pony tail -- making a bunch-o-bunches meant we could have longer pony tails to send in. More is better in wig-making, as you might imagine.

I have to insert this photo from LAST YEAR (below) when his BFF got his hair cut in Seattle. They even dressed alike for the event. I bet that made a gorgeous wig! (Seriously, that is a different boy!)

 Me, pausing....but only for a second!

 WHHHHAAAAAAA!  This was fun!! (you can read below if you want to know why mumsy did the cutting)

 bunches of bunches

Getting the bunches ready to ship to "Wigs for Kids" (read more about hair donations below) 

 ... at the bangkok salon and Thai street fashion mecca "Never Say Cutz" where "friends don't let friends get a bad haircut." we showed the guys the pics from earlier to explain the total hack job he walked in with. They LOVED it, wished they had been able to do the whole job. Arggh, but it really didn't make sense and in the end it all worked out.  I cut it to maximize the donation but also so these characters would have enough to 'work with.' They worked it.

O above and his buddy below.  Oh I love these boys. 

 PFPJ got in on the act, too.

Thing 2, looking gorgeous (and very serious -- on purpose, trust me, he knows what those blue eyes can get him:  nearly nearly anything.  And when they are brimming with crocodile tears?  Absolutely ANYTHING.) 
LOVE the sprinkling of nose freckles. (but stocked up on kids sun cream, don't worry.)

and...the big reveal. Cool kid.

The backstory:
Hair has defined our oldest son’s life for a long time. Since he was a toddler, his hair has been a thing of wonder.  Beautiful bouncy blonde curls adorned his little toddler head and has attracted attention from old and young, men and women, boys and girls.  His locks defied gravity, they shone from within, and they were rarely brushed or touched so they remained lovely. His hair GLOWED.

Somewhere along the way, he had  falling out with the barber shop (like after 4 consecutive bad hair cuts in Z barbershops); then he lost his affections for the salon where the only option was to give him a layered look...like Claudia Shieffer.  "Claude WHO?"  Never mind, son, never you mind.

One day.  He said, out of the blue.  

"I think I’d like to get my hair cut." he told his father one night when he went in to say god night. TJ said he kind of stood there holding his breath.  "Really?"

"In Thailand."

And so, we booked tickets.

Just kidding, the trip came first and the request to cut the hair was filed away on the long, long, very long list of ‘things to do in Bangkok’.  

The trip went off and we nearly ran out of time.  

Right before we left, we looked up the guidelines for donating O’s hair.  Please don’t think that he grew his hair to donate it (some people do set out on the hair growing plan with that in mind from the get-go), or that he had some big altruistic plan in mind when he decided not to cut his hair.  In fact, if anything, he wanted to sell it.  If he could have organised to sell it, I’m sure he’d have cut it sooner.  We did think up an elaborate plan to have an auction....he could have made a lot of money putting on some kind of raffle....selling the ‘right’ to cut it, and in the process could have raised a lot of cash.  Ironically, the whole thing of his having long hair was more of a way to NOT draw attention to himself.  And because he does not like change.  The psychology behind it was fascinating.

People had some strange and strong opinions about O’s hair.  I think it was starting to bug him that his hair was becoming a defining feature of his personality...it was getting annoying.  (To all of us!)  

Why NOT try to profit? And why not make people put their money where their mouth was?  He loved this idea but it would have drawn far too much attention to himself.  “Much to flashy, not my style.”  True.  Silent & strong, that’s his modus operendi. And in true to O form, he stuck to his guns. Damn that kid is STUBBORN.  Not at all like his parents......HA! 

The people who set out to grow their hair so they can donate it truly amaze me.  It's a wonderful gesture and can mean so much. We know so many who have lost their hair in the process of treating their cancer (which means....they lost the hair but have their lives!! YeaH!) and other situations....we hope that the donation, however it gets there will be appreciated.  (actually, this donation is traveling to the US right now via Korea with the friends we stayed with in Bangkok -- no tricky customs issues there:  "have you been asked to pack anything in your luggage by someone....." This hair could be the most travelled hair ever set into a wig!  Zambia, Thailand, Zanzibar, Cape Town, Paris, London, Dubai...good grief! This assumes our friends dont' get stopped for trafficking human body parts.)

At any rate, we researched donating his hair on the sly. And this week did so - to “Wigs for Kids” which asks for 12-inch ponytails -- his more than qualified in the end.  The other contender was Pantene’s “Beautiful Lengths” program (requiring 8inch pony tails and also having a different target market for the wigs they make).  

So many people use ‘Locks for Love’ but in looking at their policies (what they do with the hair they receive and how they deal with donations and mainly, who are the recipients of the wigs, etc,) decided that was not in line with what we wanted.  We also considered the recommendations from the American Cancer Society, decided that the policies for ‘Wigs for Kids’ were fair and reasonable.  And, uh, totally awesome. If you are in the mood to donate -- please do the research and decide for yourself!  

After dreaming up some funny plans for how to communicate in English with way-too-hip Thai barber shop about needing to follow certain guidelines, O suggested the obvious -- “can’t you just cut it?”


And so, we made 8 ponytails, binding them at the top, where they would be cut, and again in the middle.  One giant ponytail in the back would have required a chain-saw to cut thru (it’s so thick) and by having many small ones all over his head meant the hair could be contained better and that we could get longer ponytails to send away. PFPJ did the filming, we have yet to process the video, sorry, that will come much much much later.

And now that it’s cut -- “Does he miss it?” is the question everyone asks.  “Miss what?”  For him it’s been such a non-issue, it’s been the rest of us getting so worked up about it. Long, short, he really does not care.  But -- he did buy some hair gel the other day: “Mommy, I want the kind for MEN.” 

Oh, help.

We did some other things in Thailand: ziplining, abseiling, rock climbing, surfing, cooking lessons, temple-trekking, snorkeling, ice skating, cycling, swimming, lots of eating and a wee bit of shopping. But we had to get this post out of the way.  Kob kun mak man.

kob kun mak man
(which means 'thank you vey much" not "how scary-creepy is this, dude?")

PS Now that the hair is cut and being styled daily with that funky-cute TinTin do in the front, we're remembering that it's the back that was always the problem...it sticks up on it's own just like the front -- he's like a little peacock-head or a bower-bird.

PPS Owen recently received these kind words of support and encouragement from Wigs 4 Kids:

"This is one of the most unique stories we have received and we appreciate the time spent informing others how a difference can be made in the lives of children experiencing hair loss. We are fortunate to receive hair from around the world, as people like you recognize that this is not a local or national problem, it is universal. 

We are so grateful that you chose Wigs 4 Kids as your charity of choice to donate to. We will look forward to receiving your son’s hair and are inspired by his example as this program is all about kids helping other kids. It is very important to the young men in our program that other boys donate their hair as well."

1 comment:

Teresa said...

O's new look is very handsome! It has to feel a whole lot cooler too. Although, there is something to be said for the feeling of a breeze blowing through long locks.