Bubba Ludwig shows his support for St. Baldrick's.
Updated: April 25, 2013 6:19AM
Bald boys kept showing up at my 6-year-old son’s elementary school this month. Everyone seemed to be participating in a St. Baldrick’s Foundation event, and Bubba eventually joined in.
The California-based charity raises money for childhood cancer research. Participants shave their heads in exchange for pledges. It’s also a sign of solidarity with cancer-stricken children who typically lose their hair as a result of chemotherapy.
Bubba had neither a pledge sheet nor a direct link to childhood cancer when he went bald last week. He simply needed a haircut and opted for the electric trimmer over scissors. He requested the hairstyle after being influenced by his more altruistic friends.
The Wife took Bubba to a salon for the trim. The stylist initially cut his hair using a No. 4 guard, leaving about a quarter inch of hair on his now visible scalp.
“Nope. I want a zero,” Bubba insisted.
Mom obliged, and the hairdresser shaved Bub bald. The Wife later referred to her decision as a choose-your-battles moment. She felt the eyes of everyone in the salon as she reluctantly agreed to the haircut. But hair grows, and this didn’t seem worth fighting.
I saw Bubba’s haircut later that afternoon. I was floored. My boy has always had hair. He was born with it. Bubba’s hair is dark and thick. His hairline starts just above his wide eyebrows.
When I first saw my bald boy, I laughed. He seems to like the new do, particularly the prickly feeling he gets by rubbing his freshly trimmed scalp. I also think he enjoys the comparison to Uncle Steven — The Wife’s brother who shaves his head for the military.
I think Bubba looks sickly. It’s March so he’s pale. Five months of forced-air heat has left his skin dry and cracked. Bubba is also skinny. If I didn’t know better, I’d think he was an orphan being treated for head lice.
I’m not upset. The haircut offered a teachable moment. Later in the week, Bubba and I visited the St. Baldrick’s website. He and I looked at pictures of children battling cancer. I explained the disease and how head shaving is symbolic of the fight against this illness. This only made Bubba more interested in maintaining his hairstyle.
“Can I shave my head again?” he asked.
“Sure. But let’s let this one grow out a bit first,” I replied.
I then donated $25 to one of the influential boys in Bubba’s class who was raising funds for the St. Baldrick’s Foundation. I figured this was roughly the cost of a quality haircut. I later learned that the charity has funded more than $103 million in childhood cancer research since 2005.
And despite all of this, I’m a little worried about Bubba participating in a St. Baldrick’s fundraiser next year. Looking ahead, my boy will be celebrating his First Communion in 2014. It’s a big deal that’s followed by a big party with lots of pictures.
Raising money for pediatric cancer research is a charitable endeavor that seems to go hand-in-hand with this Catholic coming-of-age celebration. It will just make it hard to differentiate my wholesome boy from a newly released ex-con in pictures.
Howard A. Ludwig is a former SouthtownStar business reporter who traded his reporter’s notebook for a diaper bag, becoming a stay-at-home dad.
He can be reached at email@example.com.