Philip Pieri grabbed the handle of the clipper and began shaving his daughter’s hair off. “I’m so sorry…” he told her. “I don’t have any other choice.”
Little Isabella started to cry when she saw herself in the mirror. But Philip knew he had done the right thing.
Philip and his 11-year-old daughter, Isabella, lived in Utah.
After losing her mother when she was three years old, Isabella became very independent. She would wake up early in the morning and get ready for school on her own.
Philip worked long-hour shifts to provide for his daughter, so Isabella was often home alone. Everything was going well for them until one day, she began receiving warnings from her school about being late to class.
Philip decided to have a talk with her to find out what was going on.
His daughter refused to talk about it and quickly changed the subject when he mentioned the warnings.
So, Philip decided to leave work earlier than usual to see if Isabella really took the school bus or not.
He drove to her school and waited there for her. A few minutes later, the bus pulled up to the school, and he saw Isabella walking out of the bus alone.
That’s when it hit him.
He noticed that Isabella’s behavior had changed ever since her mother passed away. She became quiet and reserved, and Philip felt like she was hiding something from him.
When Isabella came home from school, Philip sat her down again and asked her if she was okay.
Then, Philip asked her if the bus driver was keeping her on the bus longer than others and whether that was the reason why she was receiving warnings.
Finally, Isabella told him the truth.
Isabella explained to Phillip that she struggled with her hair. He tried several times to help his daughter untangle her hair, but he didn’t know how to brush it properly.
“She’d get mad at me for pulling her hair. I didn’t know how to do it,” he recalled. That’s when he decided to chop it off.
Philip grabbed the clippers and shaved off his daughter’s hair.
When Isabella saw herself in the mirror, she broke into tears. She didn’t want to upset her father, so she pretended to like her new look. It took over two years for her hair to grow out again.
When Philip suggested shaving her head again, Isabella refused. Instead, she asked him to cut half of the length off.
However, this didn’t solve the problem, and soon her hair was tangled and matted again.
Isabella decided to tie her hair up to try and hide it until the day that the bus driver, Tracy Dean, noticed it.
When Tracy saw Isabella’s hair, she offered to help her brush it.
Fortunately, Tracy happened to have a hair styling kit in her handbag. She asked Isabella to stay still and began combing her hair.
Soon, their combing sessions became a routine. “I could tell she was struggling with her hair. We usually do two French braids first, and once in a while, she just wants one braid,” Tracy said.
It would take Tracy over 10 minutes to untangle Isabella’s hair every morning. This was why she was late for school, but both Tracy and Isabella knew it was important.
Tracy was a mother of four, so she knew how to comb a child’s hair. And when she heard that Isabella’s mom had passed away, she burst into tears.
She told Isabella that she also had cancer. She was lucky to have survived and was grateful that she could be there for her children.
“I didn’t just survive for my husband or my children. I survived for these kids on the bus that need somebody to talk to or do their hair or whatever,” she said in an interview.
“I also taught Isabella how to brush her hair. She’d get on the bus, and she’d say, ‘I brushed my hair. Does it look good? I’ll say, ‘You did awesome.'”
When Philip found out about their hairstyling routine, he was shocked. “One day, Isabella came home, and it looked beautiful. I call her my princess, and she looks the part, she plays the part, and her confidence is way up, which is what I’ve been intending,” Philip said.