Getting 11-year-old boys to wash can be enough of a struggle- never mind a complex hair routine!
Young Gavin Rae has been avoiding the barbers for two years- not out of laziness, but out of kindness. The generous young man decided to grow his hair out in aid of cancer patients. He heard of charities such as Locks of Love, which allows donors to give their own hair if it's long enough.
“[I] thought it would be nice to give people who don’t have hair, hair,” he told Yahoo Lifestyle.
While he'd never had his hair this long before, he had already decided to grow it out before hearing about the charity.
“I started growing it long about two years ago but decided around Thanksgiving/Christmas to donate it,” he explained.
“I would bring him to the hairdresser in an attempt to give it some shape/style and get it out of his face by having it layered,” mum Rebecca continued. “He then mentioned months ago wanting to donate it, so we agreed to let it be so the layers could grow out.”
Last weekend he finally said goodbye to the luscious locks, donating them to a cancer charity.
While his elder sister and father were completely on board with his decision to grow out his hair, his mother wasn't so sure at first.
“I honestly did not fully appreciate the long hair,” she admitted. “They say how you should pick your battles and that was one we weren't willing to fight so, we let him decide.
“His father is bald and was very supportive, saying to ‘enjoy it while he still had it.’”
While mum Rebecca was concerned that he would get teased in school for his long hair, she needn't have worried.
“I’m not that concerned with how I look to others,” Gavin explained. “My friends would make fun of me, but certainly not bullying. Just for fun; we’re boys” he said, adding that his friends thought that it was “cool” that Gavin was donating his hair.
However, it was the adults that weren't as understanding, “questioning the long hair on a boy, highlighting gender stereotypes.”
According to Rebecca, Gavin would get questions from adults such as, “You’re a boy, why do you have such long hair?” The boy was once stopped by an elderly man for trying to “get into the men’s room.”
Being mistaken for a girl was not something that bothered Gavin. “I thought it was pretty funny and would just say, ‘I’m actually a boy’ and they would be surprised and sometimes wouldn't believe me.”
Ironically, Rebecca says that it's not in her son's nature to want to stand out.
“That’s one of the reasons why we felt that he should be allowed to wear his hair as he wished especially if it brought him somewhat ‘unwanted’ attention,” she revealed. “I don’t think that at 9-11 years old, he would recognise that it was empowering, but we felt that for him."
The family, she continued, were “thrilled” Gavin was doing something he loved without being swayed by gender stereotypes.
“His whole family was so proud when he decided to grow it even longer to be able to donate,” Rebecca said.
Donating to a cancer charity was an impactful decision as Gavin’s paternal grandmother died of cancer and had lost her hair, “so it was quite meaningful to the rest of the family.”
While Gavin was delighted to be rid of the tresses, his mum will actually miss them.
“It made him easy to spot on the soccer and flag football field,” she laughed.