Michael is the son of my older sister. This is just one of his traits. He is also 7, my nephew, my godson, very active, loving, really smart, tall, cute as a button, and pretty good at Lego Star Wars. He also has Alopecia. Unfortunately, this is the first attribute people tend to notice about him. For the most part I don’t blame them. It is human nature to be curious. I have had people come up to me and ask, “What is wrong with him?” While this may not be the best way to ask that question (There is nothing “wrong” with him), I don’t mind educating people about what Michael has to live with everyday.
I usually give people the short answer, “He has alopecia, which makes his hair fall out. It isn’t contagious and it doesn’t hurt him.” Everyone so far has been satisfied with this answer, although I am prepared in case they want the long version. Alopecia is an autoimmune disorder. Causes are unknown and there is no known cure. While it doesn’t hurt him physically, imagine being 7 and having your classmates make fun of you for something you can not control. He is strong. So much stronger than any 7 year old should be. He is very good at ignoring comments and continuing on with his day.
A couple weeks ago the husband and I took Michael to a nearby apple orchard. We took a little hayride (I say hayride loosely due to the lack of actual hay) around the orchard. Michael was perfectly content sitting in the front seat looking out at all of the trees. He had a peaceful look on his face. I prayed he didn’t hear the little girl behind us say, “That boy has no hair” as we first entered the wagon. He didn’t seem to notice. In fact, he was a happy boy the entire day.
I hope I’m doing the right thing. I hope that by being honest when people ask questions, and by letting the odd comment here or there go, that I am teaching Michael that he should not be ashamed of his alopecia. I hope I’m teaching him that it is ok to educate the uninformed, and through education come acceptance, research, and maybe one day a cure.
No one asked questions this day. In fact, I barely saw any stares of curiosity. We ran up and down the tree lines. We played in the pumpkin patch. The tube slide saw us descend many times. Michael enjoyed running through the cow maze and then through the corn maze. We raced each other on the giant tricycle track. Apple cider donuts where enjoyed after running into old college friends (which, by the way, was totally random, seeing as we went to college in New Mexico). Michael had a blast, and we were blessed to have the opportunity to hang out with him for the day.
You may notice from the pictures that Michael’s favorite person in the world is my husband. I’m sure he loves me too, but he never stops talking about Uncle Derek.
To learn more about Alopecia go here