Long Hair and Pre-School

It’s clear that a child cannot possibly learn, let alone be a good catholic, if their hair is too long.  I wouldn’t know, actually, being neither a good student nor a good catholic and, currently, having pretty long hair.  But it seems that the lesson St. Dominic’s Pre-School wants to teach 4-year-old Jack Szablewski is that proper grooming, according to their standards, is more important than, say, helping the sick.

After her father died of lung cancer, Renee Szablewski decided to let her then 16-month-old son’s hair grow so that it could eventually be donated to make wigs for children who lose their hair because of radiation treatments to fight cancer.  Based on the photos the Today Show has of him, it looks like Jack is doing a stunning job of cultivating his locks for those deserving kids.  But when Jack showed up for the first day of school, instead of receiving the hero’s welcome he deserved, he was turned away and told to get a haircut before coming back.

The thing is, the school knew, in advance, of the wig-growing project and, was okay with it, so long as Jack got a haircut before the start of school.  That was the plan, — with full media coverage, no less, — until God sent a major storm their way, preventing the trim.  The very next day, of course, was the first day of school.  “The teacher wouldn’t let him through the doors and left us standing out in the rain,” said Jack’s mother.

Szablewski spoke with the school’s vice principal at length about the issue.  “She told me it was our decision to make our son different, which I found repulsive,” the mother says.  The problem is that every child is different.  Whether they’re growing their hair to help cancer patients, they like ketchup on their corn flakes, or they prefer ballet to baseball, every kid is different and we should be celebrating those differences, not disparaging them.  This is the sort of attitude that leads to teen suicides such as we’ve seen lately.

I see this as a clear case of a dogmatic organization clinging to arbitrary rules without regard for intent, motive, or consequence.  While I certainly don’t believe that the ends justify the means, I do think that there always needs to be room for exceptions to a rule.  Perhaps, instead of punishing this good deed, the school could have taken up the challenge and encouraged all their students to grow their hair for wigs.  Now wouldn’t that be a heavenly thing to do?

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