A few months ago we found a few bald spots on the back of Goldie's head. I probably wouldn't have even thought much about them or worried that they meant anything except for the fact that my sister, my father, and a cousin all have alopecia -- an autoimmune disease where your body's immune system attacks your hair follicles. Doing a little research I quickly realized that there is not much else that causes your hair to fall out in round patches -- radiation treatments, ringworm, tension hair loss from tight ponytails, nervous habit of pulling out hair and . . . alopecia. None of the others apply so unless it is a total fluke, she most likely does have alopecia. Many people that get alopecia only ever have patches here and there and nothing more. Which would be what we hope for. Some lose all the hair on their body (like my cousin) and others lose all the hair on their heads (like my dad and sister). It is just a waiting game now. Both my dad and sister had patches for many years before losing all of their hair. Needless to say, this has given us a lot of anxiety and stress over our little Goldie. The thought of her losing her sweet little blonde locks, dealing with the trauma and insecurity of being bald, and the unthinkableness of any kid ever making fun of her makes me sob every time I think about it in any depth. My family has been wonderful though (as has Mikes). Knowing somewhat about how difficult it is to handle (from witnessing my sister dealing with it), they have all been praying and praying for her. Praying that she might not lose her hair, and that IF, for whatever reason, she will have to have this trial, that the impact can be softened -- that it can happen in a way and at a time that would be the least traumatic.
I've had mixed feelings about how to deal with it at present. Mike believes (and is likely right) that there is no reason to make her worry when we don't even know that she'll ever lose it. At the same time, it seems like in some ways it might be less devastating if it wasn't a sudden shocking surprise. I've read that children often cope with it better than adults because they are less conscientious about appearance issues, and part of me thinks that if she knew it was a possibility and we were able to just talk normally about it maybe it wouldn't be as bad as it could be if, say, it suddenly got bad in the middle of those rough and insecure teenage years. If it does happen, I would hope she could just be bold and confident -- that she could be unashamed in using it as a mark of who she is and realize the opportunity it would be for her to stand out and influence people who were struggling. That is how my sister is now, but I clearly remember how horrifying it was initially for her and how terrified and humiliated she felt at the thought of any boy she was dating discovering she wore a wig. Oh, but I mustn't type about those kinds of things because then I start to tear up again as I think of Goldie.
Anyway, I haven't said anything specifically to her, but once, several months back, I just kind of tested the waters casually by saying something about how beautiful she was and how she would even be beautiful if she had no hair. I think that, because we'd been looking at her head a lot, she sensed something in that statement that she otherwise would not have because she immediately said, "But I don't want that to happen! I wouldn't be pretty!" I said, "but Shannon has no hair and she is pretty." "Yes," she conceded thoughtfully, "but I don't think a kid would look much good with no hair." I mentioned how I'd seen a lot of pictures of kids with no hair and that they looked very cute, but changed the subject because I didn't want to upset my little girl who had said, "Still, I don't want that to happen to me."
Then, out of the blue today, as we were driving in the car (it has been probably two months since that conversation) she said, "Mom, if my hair ever does do that -- fall out, I'd like to see some pictures of those kids with no hair so I can see if I'd still be cute or not."
"You'd be so cute honey because you have such a cute face and such a cute round head." I responded casually, "but I can show you those pictures on the computer sometime."
She still seemed interested in the topic so I said, "Goldie, do you know what is fun that some people do if they have no hair?"
"What?" She questioned.
"Sometimes they just show their cute heads, and sometimes they wear all kinds of cute scarves on their heads that they hook things to like flowers, and sometimes they get fun wigs so that they can have brown hair or blonde hair each day!"
"Well," Goldie said happily, "I wouldn't much like the wigs."
"Just maybe the things wrapped around your head or just showing your cute head?"
"You know what is kind of funny. Sometimes people with no hair get very cold because hair keeps your head warm so sometimes, like Shannon, they wear snuggly little caps to keep their heads warm."
"Or" she said excitedly, "I could just put my hood on!" she paused then laughed, "If I always wore my hood, no one would even know I didn't have any hair!"
"Yah, you could just trick them. That would be silly, but also just showing your little head would be very cute."
"Yah," Goldie agreed, "I would just do that if my head was cold." She gave me her crazy wide eyed silly face and laughed, "'cause I wouldn't want my head to get cold!"
And then we were at our destination. I love my little girl. I liked how calm and happy she seemed having that conversation, but I feel extra emotional again because of it. She is quite the cutey I must say. I've been having a lot of fun giving her a little extra attention with Abe and Daisy back in school. Here was what she was doing today.