The Best Laid Plans

Once upon a time, there was a girl named Gloria.  For the first 10 years of her life, it was very normal.  She had a normal house.  And a normal family.  And normal hair.  Then, one day, that all changed.  Gloria had been going to the same hairdresser for her entire life.  On her 10th birthday, when she went for a haircut, everything seemed normal.  Her hairdresser, who spoke like most hairdresser’s do, asked her, “So dahhhling, what do you want today?”

Gloria said she wanted a bob with bangs.  “Ohhkay, sweethawwhht!”  her hairdresser said.  “You got it!”

Her hairdresser took out her scissors, readied herself for the first cut, and “Snip!”  But, looking in mirror, Gloria didn’t see any difference in her hair.  The scissors hadn’t cut her hair.

“Hmmm…dahhling, don’t worry,” said the hairdresser.  “These scissors are OLD!  Let me get a new pair.”

With the shining new pair of scissors, her hairdresser once again got ready for the cut.  “Snip!”  And again, her hair still looked exactly the same.  Why couldn’t the scissors cut her hair?

“Sweetie, I don’t know WHAT is going on, butwhen your hair decides to coorporate again, come back and I’ll give you a cut!” said the hairdresser.

Going home, Gloria’s mother and father were just as puzzled by her hair.  Thinking that maybe Gloria’s hair was just really strong from eating too many vegetables and leafy greens, Gloria’s mother decided to use something a little stronger to cut her daughter’s hair.  Going into the garden shed, she found the tree shear.  ‘These have to work,’ she thought.

Sitting Gloria down in a chair in the kitchen, her mother positioned the shears to cut the back part of her hair (having realized it probably wasn’t a good idea to start with Gloria’s bangs!).  With all of her strength, her mother closed the shears down onto Gloria’s hair.  Crack!  Gloria’s hair was still there, longer than ever, and the tree shears were broken!

Now, Gloria’s mother and father knew that something was definitely wrong.  How could their little girl’s hair break huge metal tree shears? The immediately headed in the car to the hospital, hoping the doctors there could tell them what was wrong.

At the hospital, Gloria was examined by 20 different doctors.  Men and women who were specialists in our nutrition, and our skin, and our bones.  They put her hair under microscopes, they put strangely-smelling chemicals on her hair, and they argued with each other about their different theories for what was happening to Gloria.  Finally, the head doctor came to speak with Gloria and her parents.

“After careful consideration, ” she said, “we have concluded that your daughter is perfectly normal.  There is nothing unique about her hair.”

“Except for the fact that nothing can cut it!” cried her parents together.

“Not to worry,” said the doctor, with authority.  “We have an especially strong laser we use for surgery that will definitely be able to cut your daughter’s hair.  It can cut bone and metal–it will definitely cut her hair.”

Gloria followed the doctor to an operating room and lay down on the metal table.  Her hair hung down off of the table.  Warming up the laser, the doctor said, “Don’t worry, this will all be over in a minute.  You won’t feel a thing!”

Zapp!  The laser moved in a straight line from left to right over Gloria’s long hair.  And still, there was no change.  Her hair looked exactly the same.  The only thing that did change was the table she was laying on.  The doctor must have been a little to excited, because she moved the laser a bit too far to the right and cut a big notch into the metal table with the laser.  And before she could get off, Gloria crashed down with the table.  Boom!  So now, not only did she still have her super-strong long hair, she had a bruised bottom as well!

And so things stayed the same more than they changed.  Gloria got older and with each day her hair got longer.  First, it was long enough to reach her waist.  Then her feet.  Then across the room!  When Gloria was 13, her hair finally got so long that Gloria had trouble walking.  Before school each day she would have to wrap her hair around her head 4 times, and then knot it with five or six ponytail holders and eight or nine barrettes, just so she could walk.  And with all that hair wrapped around her head, she looked like she was wearing a hair-hat each day.  Definitely not a normal look for a 13-year-old girl.

At first Gloria’s classmates didn’t notice her hair.  Once it reached her feet, though, they started to whisper about her.  “What’s wrong with Gloria’s hair?”  “Why won’t she cut it?”  “It looks really weird!”  And then the whispers became shouts and name-calling.  They called her “long-haired loser” and “beardy-weirdy”.  No one wanted to sit with her at lunch.  No one came to play at her house.

Every night, Gloria would pray to God.  “Dear God,” she would say, “please make my hair stop growing.  Please make my hair normal again.  Please help me.”  And each morning when she woke up, her hair was a little longer and her prayers went unanswered.  Gloria started to get angry with God.   Her prayers became a time for yelling at Him.  “Why are you doing this to me?  Why are you punishing me?”

And, as things often happen, God answered her questions one day without saying a word.

It was a wintery morning and Gloria sat in the back of the school bus by herself.  All of the other children sat towards the front, as far away from Gloria as possible.

There was one point in the school bus’ route where it passed a steep ledge, which rose over a frozen lake.  Usually, the bus drove very slowly during this part of the route, since it was a dangerous spot.  On this day, though, another car with a person talking on their cell phone was coming from the other direction.  The driver was not paying attention to the road and swerved into the bus’ lane.  Luckily, the bus drive was paying attention and swerve the bus out of the way, avoiding an accident with the car.  Not so luckily, though, the bus swerved straight off the ledge and into the frozen lake below.  The front of the bus cracked the ice and the entire bus full of children began to sink below the icy water.

Being at the back of the bus, Gloria was still out of the water.  Without even realizing what she was doing, she moved herself to the emergency exit door, opened it, and jumped out of the bus onto the ice.  As she stood there, staring at the bus sinking into the icy water, she cried out in frustration.  How could she help her busmates and the driver?  What could she do?  They would surely drown if she just stood there and did nothing!

And then, she noticed that her long, strong hair had come undone and was lying in a pool at her feet.  She knew what she had to do.  Tying it quickly into a braid, she lowered down into the water and inside the school bus.  Calling down as loudly as she could, she told them to climb up her hair to safety.  One by one, the children and, finally, the driver climbed up Gloria’s hair out of the icy danger and into safety.  Exhausted, cold, and frightened, all of them waited for the ambulance to arrive.

Gloria and her busmates returned from the hospital later that day, after having been checked over for bruises, cuts, or anything else that might have hurt them.  As Gloria stepped into her classroom that afternoon, she simply hoped that no one would notice her.  The day had already been stressful enough! 

Instead, Gloria was met with cheers, applause, and a huge sign across the front of the room that read, “Thank you Gloria and Thank you Gloria’s Hair!”  After that day, no one ever teased Gloria about her hair again.  And she had plenty of friends to sit with at lunch.

That night, Gloria said a different set of prayers.  “Dear God, thank You for my long, strong hair.  Thank You for making me different.  And thank You for knowing what I need more than I do.”

From that day on, Gloria always remembered that the things that make us different also make us special.

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