I've written about a lot of things that are quite personal and serious, but today, I want to change it up a bit and talk about the hilarity that is baby hair.
I worked at an Olive Garden in Mishawaka, Indiana for a few short months my senior year of college. I hated that job and that job hated me. The general manager was a humorless, slouching man named Gene who always wore brown suits that did not fit and had bald spot so large that it created the effect of a ring of hair that seemed to go all the way around his head, including bangs. I'd never seen that hairstyle on a person besides the Disney cartoon of Friar Tuck before or since.
Until Juniper came along.
Juniper is currently rocking the Olive Garden Gene. The Friar Tuck. The Ring Around The Rosie. The Kevin from The Office. Thanks, in part, to a giant bald spot she's rubbed into the back of her head.
Below the bald spot is a thatch of russet-colored hair fond of forming itself into a pointy little tail, above and around the thatch is a downy sprinkle of hair that looks orange-blonde some days and a reddish sandy brown on others and is prone to sticking up in a formation that resembles a halo of curly spikes. I was not prepared for how funny this is. Her hair makes no sense. It defies the laws of hair.
There are few statements that apply to all babies, but: almost all baby hair is funny. It's funny when babies have no (or very little) hair and just have big bald pumpkin heads, like my friend Stacy's little boy. It's funny when they are born with a full head of hair, like my friend Natalie's kid. It's funny when their hair is uneven and patchy, or wild and uneven and frighteningly thick and dark. It's funny when it's wavy, coily, wispy, curly, red, black, white, randomly long and shampooed into a bathtub mohawk, in one single Eddie Munster-style diamond on the top of their head and bald everywhere else. It's funny when it's a baby Afro puff or an accidental mullet. Show me a photo of a baby that isn't sick and the two funniest things in the photo will be 1- hair and (a distant) 2- cheeks.
Is baby hair always funny because babies have no idea how they are supposed to look? Is it funny because there is nothing to be done about it? Is it funny because it's temporary? Is it funny because babies spend so much time being upset? Or just because it's ridiculous? How are we supposed to take them seriously with hair like that? You can't!
According to more reputable sources on the internet like hospital websites, babies often lose their hair in the first few months of life because that's simply how hair works. It can also be caused by cradle cap or other temporary weird baby skin conditions (of which there are a surprising number!), and is usually nothing to worry about.
However, telling parents not to worry about something has never, not once, convinced parents not to worry about it. ("Don't worry" is to parents what "calm down" is to women.) "IS THIS NORMAL?" say many, many, many posts in parent forums on baby baldness. "WHEN WILL THE HAIR GROW BACK?" "It's normal," say the level-headed responses, "and the hair will grow back someday."
There are also plenty of websites and forums where parents commiserate to swap tips for how to stop baby hair loss, as though it's something we can control in most situations.
"Ok sure, it’s a first world problem, but you can’t help but notice that your bundle of joy is perfect in every way apart from that ugly baby bald spot on the back of their head!" says one website that is selling silk bedding for babies. Unsurprisingly, that website's solution to baby hair loss is to buy silk bedding for babies.
Silk bedding. For babies. I've got a laundry hamper full of puked on clothes that smell vaguely like cheese that might serve as a good argument against that sort of investment in the aesthetics of the back of a baby's head. The true final boss of this multi-level "first world problem" is "cleaning baby poop out of the silk sheets that were purchased in order to minimize infant hair loss."
I was fully bald until I was a year old, which my mom likes to remind me made me look younger and made it seem weirder when I would speak to strangers in public. In subsequent years, I had a honey-colored accidental mullet because the back of my head was the only place long hair would grow. It, like all baby hair, was funny and need not be fixed. If my parents had tried, it would have taken some of the character away.
I only hope Juniper's bald spot sticks around for a few more months, because it would be pretty funny to dress a one-year-old like FBI Assistant Director Skinner for a family X-Files costume. Or little George Costanza. Or wee Captain Picard. Dear Google, how do I keep my baby bald until Halloween?
Image via Shutterstock.