So we have a red-haired, blue-eyed daughter

According to websites that may chart these things, people with red hair and blue eyes are the rarest types of people in the world, because redheads and blue eyes are recessive, and the populations of redheads and people with blue eyes are much smaller than other populations.

I have blue eyes. In some lights they look green, or even teal, but officially they’re blue. During sophomore year of high school I caught a female classmate staring at me. I gathered up the courage to say something, and her response: “I’ve never seen blue eyes so beautiful before.” So yeah, they’re blue, and some would say they’re beautiful.

Sarah was born with red hair, though now it’s somewhere between auburn and brown. But most of the women in my family had or have red hair, including my grandmother and mother. I was born with pure blonde hair, but it slowly turned strawberry blonde and can sometimes look red. People would tell me my hair was red. I denied it. People still said it. Also my facial hair is red. Pretty red. I can’t deny that one.

Sarah and I made Genevieve, and what do you know: The girl has red hair and blue eyes. Actually, let me rephrase that: She has a burning inferno of hair and piercing pools of cyan. You can’t mistake any of these things. Sarah once wondered if Genevieve’s hair was getting blonde. Everyone laughed at that. I will probably never lose Genevieve, because I can spot the three-alarm blaze from 5,000 feet.

So here’s the thing about having the red-headed, blue-eyed daughter: Everyone wants to tell you that she is red-headed and blue-eyed. If I’m walking with Genevieve, chances are at least two people will stop me to remark on how red her hair is and how blue her eyes are. Another 10 people will gawk at her, smile, wave and squeak. It’s great. Honestly, I like that people stop and say something, smile, wave and squeak. Still, it’s a lot of stopping, a lot of smiling back, a lot of “Yeah, she’s beautiful!”

I understand that Genevieve is a rarity — about one percent of all people are like her. And I understand that people get very interested when encountered by a rarity. So I have to grin and bear it sometimes. I just do.

I thought about all of this earlier today, writing something about this just before walking with Genevieve in the evening. It was about how weird it is that people stop us, about how weird it is that I don’t see those people stopping other babies. I wondered if it was more than the rare occasion of spotting a red-haired, blue-eyed girl that interested people. Was there racial coding in it (possibly)? I remembered being yelled at by teenage girls in Montreal while walking with Sarah. “Ginger-vitis!” the teens shouted at us. “Ginger love!” Why are redheads teased so much? Being unique is challenging. I know it well, growing up with wild, curly blonde hair that nobody else had. People stopped me all the time, commented on my hair, ran their hands through my hair (including a high school Spanish teacher). I hated being unique.

Then I erased it. I didn’t love that I was publicly talking about the awkwardness I sometimes feel when people stop and gawk at my daughter. Then we walked, and once again, I met about two or three people who stopped to say something, and I saw another dozen who smiled or waved or squeaked. All about the red hair and eyes.

We reached the house and a woman was standing near our steps. And very quickly she became enamored with the hair and eyes.

“Red hair and blue eyes. It’s the rarest combination! Like one percent of people have it!”

I swear she said that. I swear.

She was sweet. Later I laughed. I definitely had to write something about it. Genevieve has red hair and blue eyes. She’s a rarity. She’s special. She’s unique. And who cares about what people say or do — it’s awesome.

And that’s just how it’s going to be, at least until her hair color changes like her mother’s.