My Right to Be a Redhead

In honor of National Redhead Day, an excerpt from my book, Launch: Preparing Your Kids for Takeoff

“The silver-haired head is a crown of glory, if it is found in the way of righteousness.”
                                            Proverbs 16:31 

When I was in first grade, I fell off the monkey bars and broke my left arm.

When I was in second grade, I tripped over my dog and broke my right arm.

“Redheads are smart, but they’re clumsy,” the doctor said as he was preparing the plaster for my shoulder length cast.  My mother, also a redhead, cocked her head to one side. “Oh, pardon me,” the doctor said.

In elementary school, the boys called me Carrot Top. 

My sister (another redhead) gave me her shirt that said, “Orange eyelashes are cool.”

In middle school, Coach Thomas regularly called me a red-headed pecker wood, whatever that means.  Mr. Mitchell chanted daily, “I’d rather be dead than red on the head.”

“Did you know,” I asked my mother one day as a teenager, “that less than two percent of the world’s population has red hair?  I read it in a trivia book.”

“Well, I have most of them, then,” she laughed.   Most of her eight kids were redheads. Just like my mother, most of my kids are redheads.  A mixed blessing.

“A boy called me a ginger today,” my Mary said upon arriving home from school one afternoon.  I thought I had heard every nickname for a redhead, but that one was new to me. “Get used to it,” I said.  “It is part of the package.”

“I can never be truly happy,” said Anne Shirley in Anne of Green Gables. “No one can who has red hair.”

Well, I wouldn’t go that far.  Being a redhead had been fun–until it suddenly wasn’t anymore. “I wouldn’t call you a true redhead,” my longtime friend said to me over the phone one memorable day.  “It has turned a more strawberry blond.”

I had nothing against strawberry blond hair.  It was just that my whole life I paid my dues for being a redhead.  The freckles. The skin that won’t tan. The orange eyelashes. The constant teasing.  Now I’m a strawberry blond? 

If you see me on the street, or if you have redheaded friends whose hair might be fading with age, don’t mention it.  Just allow us to keep referring to ourselves as redheads.

After all, we’ve earned it.