I found a chunk of hair the other night.

There was a trail of hair clippings leading to a huge three-inch chunk of beautiful, sandy-brown, curly hair in the hallway bathroom. The hair was intertwined with those sticky Bunchem craft ball things that you mesh together to create God-knows-what because they only end up stuck in hair or in the dog’s mouth. Of course, the trail led to the only person in this house who could be responsible for cutting these precious locks from her curly head—and she was already fast asleep in bed.

I found her in bed and ran my fingers through her tangled, curly locks as she slept, seeing the spot where it was shorter and wincing at the thought of those scissors snipping through that mane. I wanted to wake her up and scold her for doing this. I wanted to ask her why in the world she would cut her beautiful head of hair? In a house full of perfectly straight-haired children, my five-year-old is the only one gifted with naturally curly, textured hair—how could she butcher that?

But as I sat there looking at her sleeping, I took a deep breath. We’ve had a lot of “scissor incidents” in this house over the years, mostly Barbies, but at least she still has hair left. I will probably look back someday and laugh about it.

The next morning, I told her scissors are for cutting paper only and she’s not allowed to use them on her body. Or on hair. I asked her, “Why didn’t you ask me for help getting those sticky things out of your hair?” She told me, “I cut it because I hate my hair.”

I realize how many times a day we call this child “curly Shirley”. We usually laugh at how she squawks and gets angry anytime someone draws her with curly hair—crazy and wild. We joke with her about how she gives new meaning to the term “bed head” when she wakes up. We have to plug our ears at the blood-curdling screams when we try to brush it. She refuses to wear headbands, barrettes or bows. Her crazy, curly locks match her feisty, spunky personality perfectly, though. It is the one unique, distinguishing feature that makes her HER. It’s what we love most about her.

But she hates it. She sees it as being different. And she doesn’t want to be different. She doesn’t want people to point it out or call attention to her. She wants to be just like her sisters, do the things they do, wear the clothes they wear and play what they play—and have straight hair like them, too. She has spent all of her five years in the shadow of two big sisters. She’s trying so hard not to be that awkward little third wheel who tries to squeeze in next to them.

When I was younger, I remember how I looked up to my two older sisters. They were the cute, short and sweet cheerleader-types. Everyone liked them. Everyone had a good story about one of my sisters. I was the gangly, taller sister with a raspy voice and the obnoxious laugh. I went through a short-hair phase in fifth grade that made me look like an ugly boy (think Ralph Macchio as a girl). There was nothing “cute” about me. For years, I tried to fit in and be as popular and well liked as my sisters were. For a while, I didn’t really like “me” either. It wasn’t until I was a grown up that I even started to be OK with who I was. Thankfully, there are many people in my life who love me —if only for being the beautiful-yet-ugly mess of a person that I am today.

Being different isn’t easy. My little one is finding that out already. This is just one tiny learning experience in the big challenge that will be loving herself her entire life.

I want to assure her she can only be the best by being herself. She needs to rock her crazy, messy, curly-headed mane and be proud of it. Life is too short to waste time worrying about what you look like compared to all the others. I want her to be happy and in love with who she is her whole life. I want her to be content being the beautiful girl God made and gifted to us. Because nobody else can do it better, my sweet and crazy, curly-haired child.

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Andrea Remke

Andrea Remke is a recent transplant to Arizona after having lived in Kentucky for 20 years. She has a degree in communications and journalism from Saint Mary's College, South Bend, Ind. She is a widowed mother of a 13-year-old, twin 10-year-olds, and an 8-year-old. She is a freelance writer at www.andrearemke.com. Find her on Facebook and Twitter.

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