Not many three year olds could carry off baldness with such aplomb as X's best friend
Every day for the last couple of years or so X and I have suffered hair envy. We've stared with longing at her best friend's hair: it's heavy swishing volume, it's dark lustrous curls, it's glorious bouncing mass. We've fingered clips in Sainsbury's and longed for the day when we might need them too. We thought her little friend was just so lucky. But then her little friend always seemed so lucky in so many ways: great looks, fantastic parents, obvious intelligence, natural confidence, a born leader.
X, on the other hand, has always been folicle- challenged. This was a huge blessing to me as I was only allowed to adopt her on the understanding that she was a white child. It was only, post adoption, clear when her hair finally twisted it's way out, that there was definitely more than a little bit of fuzz to it. Caribbean ladies have come up to me on the street and asked which island her father came from. X has an orange Jackson Five fuzz around her head, but she still has a very high forehead so she sometimes looks a bit like Queen Elizabeth 1. More often, though, she looks like a saffron colored sheep who's wool has got matted from a winter out on the hillside. I've developed a nervous habit of plucking at it it to tease it out to stop it looking as if she's a feral child with unkempt matted locks. I've had long conversations in the African hair product shops about what might turn it into lustrous curls and ended up with lots of pots of sticky, stinking brilliantine. My ex-social worker in the adoption process sent the best product. We have a little smile to each other sometimes about X's hair. I have a feeling that she, being a lady of Caribbean extraction, might have had a little suspicion that X's hair wasn't going to be totally English Caucasian, but maybe I'm wrong. I like X's hair now she's got some. When the light shines though it she looks as if she has a halo and I love it's mad look. I just wish it started further forward. If she was a middle aged man I'd be advising her to shave the lot off and not to pretend it wasn't badly receeding.
X is in love with long, straight hair. When she came to me she couldn't go to sleep without fingering her foster mother's hair and now she can't sleep without fingering mine. She's been envious of her friend's hair for two years and has insisted on clips just like her.
Now her little friend has lost all her hair from chemotherapy. Not so lucky after all then. Her poor little body is a bit skinny at the moment. Though the prognosis on her type of leukemia is good, the treatment sounds brutal. Her tiny little frame is blasted with toxins and all her incredible, thick, lustrous locks have fallen out. X has steadfastly ignored this, not mentioned it at all. Her friend, though, is the feistiest little girl with the most indomitable spirit. She said to their childminder the other day:
'So, what do you think of my new haircut, then?'
The minder said she was lost for words, which in itself is a little miracle.