Thursday, November 12, 2015

National Love Your Red Hair Day!

Today is the first annual "National Love Your Red Hair Day." How do I know this? Not because I have it on my calendar, but because about five people tagged me in an article on Facebook saying it was. Pretty much everyone knows us as the redheaded family. My Facebook page, "The Special Reds," is dedicated to my three redheaded children, each born with a unique challenge. So my kids stand out for two reasons: 1, because they have red hair, and 2, because they have rare diagnoses as well. They're also EXTRA rare because apparently, red hair and blue eyes is unique, and they each have that combination.

I'm going to let you in on a little secret: all redheads belong to a club. An exclusive club, that only redheads and relatives of redheads can be part of. How do I know this? Because I have three redheaded children, and believe me, they attract a LOT of attention. And every time I go anywhere with one of them, I hear things like this from strangers, (who are most likely part of this club):

"Oh, love the red hair! My [insert name of relative, be it child, grandparent, uncle, second cousin, stepson, ex-wife]. Let me tell you about this person..." And it's at this precise moment that I always wish I could hit a record button, because I have heard so many "redhead" stories that I could fill a book.

Here are some common things I've heard over the years:

"Oh, love that red hair! Mine used to be red when I was younger. Now you can see I've got none!" [insert loud burst of laughter from older gentleman.]

"Oh, just look at that red hair! Oh, my mother had red hair, and when I had kids, I always wished I could have gotten just one redhead, but I didn't."

"Oh, you have a redhead! My hair was red when I was younger. And when I went gray, it went pink instead of white!"

"Oh, I love your child's red hair! My son had red hair, and he never liked it. I always tried to convince him that it was cool to be a redhead."

"Would you look at that hair? (not talking directly to me, but behind me, to his/her companion) I've paid a lot of money to get that hair color!"

"Wow, that's some red hair! Let me guess, you dye his hair to keep it that way?"

I've heard this joke so many times that now I tell it to others. The last time someone said:

"Oh, would you look at that red hair! Love the color!"
"Yes, thanks! I take him in every 6 weeks for a touch up!"
This usually brings either a laugh or a confused look. Sometimes I have to tell them I'm joking.

Being a redhead is like wearing a badge of honor. Red hair means you stand for something, that you have to be bold and proud of who you are. It means you will always hear comments from strangers everywhere you go, and that's okay. And these strangers, most of the time, have a relative with red hair. I rarely hear someone comment on my child's hair if they don't have a redheaded connection. It's all about the connection, being in the club, sharing their own redhead story.

Unless this stranger wants to know the answer to the #1 question I get:

"Wow, that's some red hair he's got! Is it true that redheads have tempers?"

And every time I hear this one, I answer truthfully:

"Yes, yes, yes, it is true. Redheads do have tempers to match." (I know this from experience.)

And this has to be the #2 question I get from people:

"Oh, I like his red hair! (person looks at the hair on my head) But where did the red hair come from?"

Now this question happens the most when we are out as a family. I have what you would call auburn-ish hair. I don't color it, and in the sunlight, you can see red glints. But I do have lots of freckles and fair skin like most redheads do. My husband is also fair and has dirty blonde hair, and if he grows his facial hair, it is red. So most people look at us and then see these three redheaded children and can't figure it out. (These people probably aren't part of the club).

Well, do you want the long or short answer? Here's what I usually say:

"Well, both our parents have red hair, and two of my dad's sisters have red hair, and my mom's sister has red hair, and my husband's brother has red hair, and my granddad was a redhead, and..." Genetics, people. It runs in the family! (I'm considering dying my hair red to avoid the question.)

Oh, there was also one time where someone told me if you rub the hair of a redhead, it's good luck, and the person actually rubbed my child's head. You just never know what might happen.

So here's to all the redheads out there, who feel connected to other redheads simply by having the same hair color (or having relatives that do) and who feel compelled to talk to other redheads wherever they go. What other hair color would start a national day? What other hair color would have a redhead convention every year? What other hair color would cause strangers to share their entire genealogy while standing in a supermarket checkout line? Only redheads. I feel proud to be a mother to three beautiful redheads.

(And by the way, please don't call us gingers. I personally cringe at the sound of the word. We are redheads.)

Redheads unite!

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