One of his teachers, Mr. Cooper, was a man of conservative values, and he even encouraged the jokes against Joe. But one day, Joe’s father found out about the situation, and he did something shocking.
“What are you doing with that ponytail? Are you a little girl?” Mr. Cooper sneered when Joe walked into his classroom on the first day of school. The rest of his classmates laughed, and Joe looked down in shame. But he knew he had to keep growing it. He had his reasons. No one would dissuade him, not even the worst teacher in the school.
Joe had started growing his hair the previous school year. No one paid too much attention to it then because the summer holidays had begun. But now that he was back, everyone saw how overgrown his hair was because he kept it in a ponytail.
Everyone made fun of Joe, especially Mr. Cooper. | Source: Pexels
Unfortunately, the comments didn’t stop, and the other boys in class started teasing him every day. The poor eight-year-old returned home every day in tears, but he never told his parents what was happening. They tried to let it go, and Joe started hiding his tears in the bathroom at some point.
Joe’s father got out his phone. he loaded the video they shot the night before and showed it to mr. cooper.
Their art teacher, Mrs. Burns, was somewhat new at the school, and she found Joe crying one day after everyone left for recess. “Joe, what’s going on? Why are you growing your hair so long?” she asked kindly.
He finally felt compelled to tell someone about it, and when he finished, the gentle teacher gave him a huge hug. “You have a beautiful heart. Don’t ever let anyone else change that, okay?” she told him encouragingly.
“But even Mr. Cooper makes fun of me. It’s not fair,” Joe mumbled. His tears had finally stopped, thanks to her kindness.
“Some people will always be bullies even when they grow up. I’ll try to talk to him,” Mrs. Burns replied, patting his shoulder.
Mrs. Burns was the only person who knew the truth. | Source: Pexels
“Don’t tell him why. He doesn’t deserve to know anything. This is my thing,” Joe requested, looking at the teacher with his earnest eyes.
“Of course. This will be between you and me. But what you are doing is nothing to be ashamed of,” the teacher assured him.
“Still. I don’t want them to know,” the little boy insisted, and Mrs. Burns nodded with a slight grin.
Over the next few days, Mrs. Burns talked to teachers about the situation, but the truth is that all of them didn’t approve of the hairstyle. They thought Joe’s parents were wrong for not getting it cut.
The math teacher, Mrs. Figgins, complained, “If he’s allowed to grow his hair out at eight years old, he’s going to become a hoodlum in high school. Kids, especially boys, need discipline at this age.”
Mrs. Burns decided to calle Joe’s father and tell him everything that was going on at school. | Source: Pexels
Mrs. Burns had no idea what to do. She didn’t have seniority at this school and Mr. Cooper was the most respected teacher there. Furthermore, she couldn’t tell them the real reason because of Joe’s request. Maybe calling his parents would be a better option, she thought. If things didn’t get better soon, she might have no choice.
“Joe, come down here!” Joe’s dad, Patrick Perkins, called out one night.
“What dad?” Joe said when he reached the kitchen. He had been doing his homework.
“Your teacher, Mrs. Burns, just called. She told me everything. Are the kids making fun of you? Is that why you’ve been crying every day after school?” Patrick inquired, kneeling before his son and looking at him.
The boy pouted his lips, and his eyes watered too. “It’s not just my friends. Mr. Cooper is the worst,” Joe revealed, shocking his father.
“What?” Patrick said, shocked. He couldn’t believe it. He knew Mr. Cooper and had talked to him before. He was an older fellow, a veteran, and a well-respected man in their community. Of course, everyone knew he was conservative, but he didn’t think he would go as far as to make fun of a child for their hair.
Joe surprised everyone at school the next day with his new haircut. | Source: Pexels
Joe nodded, and his dad asked, “Why didn’t you tell them why you’re growing your hair?”
“It’s not their business,” the little boy said, and Patrick nodded this time. It was utterly true. No one else needed to know about it.
“You are completely right, kid. But you know something. I believe it’s time to cut that hair. You’ve finally reached the required length, and I have a plan,” Patrick stated, smiling at his son, who got excited about reaching his goal.
Patrick called his wife, Rosie, who placed Joe’s hair in a proper ponytail, and she cut it completely, saving the hair for their particular plan. Patrick had been recording it on his phone the entire time and even asked Joe to say something to commemorate the moment.
“Finally, Joe! You no longer look like a girl!” Mr. Cooper bellowed when Joe walked into class, but he didn’t expect to see Patrick there too.
“Mr. Cooper,” Patrick muttered, looking sternly at the teacher.
“Oh! Mr. Perkins! So, you finally got your kid a haircut? Congrats!” the teacher said with a smile, extending his hand to shake Patrick’s.
Instead of shaking Mr. Cooper’s hand, Joe’s father got out his phone. He loaded the video they shot the night before and showed it to Mr. Cooper. The teacher’s eyebrows rose as he watched it, and Patrick started speaking so that all the kids could hear him.
“Mr. Cooper, I understand you have been encouraging the jokes against my son. I would’ve never imagined that from you, sir,” Patrick said sternly.
The older man swallowed thickly, and it seemed he got emotional. “I had no idea he would be donating his hair to cancer patients.”
The kids heard that and raised their eyebrows at Joe in surprise and admiration.
“Yeah, well. Joe didn’t want to tell anyone until he reached his goal. We visited a children’s hospital and did some volunteer work last April. He loved it and started growing his hair right away. But this school year, he started coming home in tears because everyone made fun of him, including his teacher. Do you think that’s fair, sir?” Joe’s father reprimanded the older man, who looked extremely ashamed of his actions.“I’m… so sorry, Joe. Mr. Perkins, I had no idea. My… granddaughter just went through several rounds of chemo, and she lost all her hair. My son and daughter-in-law had communicated with this foundation that makes wigs from donations,” Mr. Cooper sadly stated to Joe’s father and the kids in class. Then he approached Joe, who was already sitting at his desk.
“Thank you, kid. Not all heroes wear capes,” Mr. Cooper offered. “I was so wrong. Please, forgive me.”
Joe only nodded and smiled at the older man and Patrick finally reached out and shook Mr. Cooper’s hand. “I’m glad we’ve settled this. See you later, son,” he waved at Joe and left the classroom.
The rest of the day, all the kids asked Joe about his donation and what it was like. The boys started talking about growing their hair too, and the girls wanted to join in. They had learned a huge lesson that day.
What can we learn from this story?
It’s best not to judge anyone on their appearance. Everyone has a right to express themselves, and no one has the right to mock them for it.
Doing something charitable can inspire others to do the same. Joe’s act of kindness and generosity rubbed off on his classmates who also wanted to do the same.
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