Today was an exciting day. My son has looked forward to this day for more than a year, but especially the last three or four months. Some may remember that our son decided to grow his hair out about 15 months ago. After watching a friend go through chemotherapy he felt compelled to do something. He decided growing his hair out was a small way he could help someone who was going through a terrible time. It wasn’t always easy, but today was chop day!
Our friend Luke the Brave was kind enough to join us on the big day. Luke is actually a couple years older than Bubba, they probably wouldn’t hang out much except their moms are BFFs. They are stuck with one another, so they have made the best of it. They both love goofy shirts, flossing (of the dancing variety), video games, and not sitting still. You may remember a few years back I asked friends here to send him Happy New Year Cards while he was stuck in the hospital fighting cancer. I am so happy to report that our friend beat the odds big time. He has been cancer free for three years now. We are so thankful and continue to pray for good health.
So on the big day, we decided to share a few tips with boys who may be thinking of growing their hair out. Of course many of these tips can be applies to anyone who wants to grow their hair out. We found that our son has some extra challenges, but he wants to encourage other boys to donate. It was hard, but he felt SO proud!
Here are our tips and encouragement for boys that are considering donating their hair…
Above all else, praise. We made sure to tell him regularly that we thought what he was doing was really great. Kids (at least my kids) don’t often think about others. It always warmed our hearts to hear our friends tell him it was awesome too. A highlight of the process was when an 8th grader at his school said: “I know you don’t know me, but I think what you are doing is awesome.” An 8th grader told a 5th grader he thought is the dedication to growing out his hair was cool. Amazing core memory moment for the books.
Give them an out. We let our son know from the beginning that sometimes you gotta push through hard things, but he did not ‘need’ to grow his hair out. He did not really know the commitment he was signing up for at the beginning. Most kids his age don’t take on such a task. If he decided this was more than he could do, there would be no judgment from us.
Prepare him for mean ‘girl’ comments. First and foremost, girls are awesome, but boys typically do not want to be mistaken for the opposite sex any more than girls typically do. My son was armed with the understanding that sometimes it was an honest mistake and sometimes it was an insult. When it was an insult he learned a couple pretty effective responses. A mean girl at school used to tell him he looked like a girl and that his hair was gross, she used to stare at him in disgust to make her point. Bubba learned that looking her in the eye with a huge smile and then swishing his hair back and forth was really good at shutting her down. She eventually left him alone.
Prepare him for honest ‘girl’ misunderstandings. Bubba was only 10 when he decided to grow his hair out. He dresses and acts like a ‘typical’ boy, but before puberty, hair length is a big indicator of what sex a kiddo is. He reported double takes in the bathroom and regularly being referred to as ‘she’. When it was an accident it was easier to brush off. At restaurants, our kids often sit on the same side of the table and as Bubba’s hair grew out we often would hear “And what I can I get for you ladies?”. The best way to handle it was to respond with his deepest ‘man’ voice “I would like a cheeseburger, please.” It would get his point across that he was a boy with a joke. It worked like a charm.
Be realistic about the length of hair you plan on donating. Growing out hair is all fun and games when it is just an inch or two longer than normal, but it gets really challenging to care for once it gets below the shoulders. My son’s original goal was to grow out 12 inches to donate. He also set out thinking he was making a 12 month or so commitment. 15 or so months in, we noticed we had nearly 10 inches of beautiful honey blonde hair to donate. Depending on where you plan on donating, the length needed varies. Several require as much as 12 inches, others are willing to take hair as short as 8 inches. If he donates again, we might make it to 12 inches, but he was quite proud of the fact that he donated healthy hair that will make a pretty, short wig for a special boy or girl.
Take Biotin. This is something we wish we had done from the start. While some debate how much difference supplements make, I noticed a difference within weeks of taking Biotin. My son took a Biotin supplement along with breakfast every day the last several months of growing his hair out. If he ever donates his hair again we will start the supplements from the beginning. If he could have made it to 12 inches even one month sooner, that would have been very much appreciated. As with any supplements, I would check with your doctor first, but it is a fairly mainstream supplement.
Protect it at night time and when swimming. Braiding your hair at night time and when you swim will protect it from breakage. My son’s hair is very fine and broke very easily. Protecting his hair wasn’t exactly his favorite part of the process, but he wanted to donate the most hair possible.
Use Olaplex! Olaplex has been a game changer for my hair. My hair breaks easily and it has been the best thing my hair stylist has ever suggested. I have been using it at home for about six months. I wish I had started a regiment with my son’s hair at the same time but we didn’t even think about it. The last couple of months when things were getting especially challenging for him, a light bulb went off! This helped keep his hair strong and soft. It was so sad to see hair break and pull as it got longer, he had spent so much time growing it out. Olaplex helped strengthen his hair.
Get a trim just before you cut so that hair is in the best possible shape. While we were researching, it was made clear on multiple sites that wig companies cannot work with damaged hair.
Section into ponytails. When you cut your hair, get the most out of your cut by sectioning into multiple rubber bands. My son’s hair is quite thin so we sectioned it into about 10 small ponytails.
Buzz it! Boys who don’t mind a buzz cut should totally get one for the big cut! Bubba loves ‘summer hair’ and he was able to donate about another 1/2 – 1 inch of hair because of it. Win win.
So, the big question everyone seems to have …. When is he gonna grow his hair out again? His answer to all of you is “Chill, give me a minute to enjoy the carefree life of a kid with short hair.” He has said he will grow it again, but not until he goes through puberty. He came up with that all on his own. He thinks being a young boy with long hair was a little more challenging than it will be for a young man to have long hair. He says he wants to be mistaken for a girl a little less. He now fully understands the responsibility involved with long hair. He says he might start growing it out again when he is ’15 or 16′, but nobody is pressuring him. For now, he is just enjoying being dang near bald. No conditioner, no Olaplex, no gently brushing out hair, and no more braids! Sweet relief!
He said the only thing he is sad about is that he can’t see who gets the wig with his pretty hair. Thank you to all the people who supported him during this challenge! Over the past year we have had some shade thrown, but there has been overwhelming support! Friends and strangers have been so kind! We would love for you to leave an encouraging comment below or on his Instagram photo! We hope that we have encouraged at least a few more friends to consider growing out their hair to donate, it is challenging but so rewarding too!