So instead of sitting on my armchair-turned-throne of laziness, moodily brooding about all the things I’m recently very bad at (list includes, but not limited to: routine personal hygiene, attention to housework, and motivating certain children to just finish their schoolwork for the year already), I thought I’d hike all the way to my “office” (the computer nook in the kitchen) and post something about things I am good at.
It’s a pretty short list right now. Mostly, it’s limited to this:
Which, in case you’re not sure what you’re looking at, is a Cub Scout, marching in the town Memorial Day parade, sporting a mohawk dyed red, white, and blue for the occasion. It was every bit as festive as it looked.
This, of course, is the Cub Scout’s younger brother, who is also sporting a mohawk. Which is orange. Which, despite the dye bottle’s assurances to the contrary, is not washing out, and will mostly likely leave his hair only via the clippers.
So here’s what I do well. I give my boys mohawks and dye them unnatural colors.
Why? Because that’s what they ask for. Ever since they’ve been old enough to ask for specific haircuts, the mohawk has been the number one choice (followed by “spiky, like Doctor Who”)
It’s something, anyway.
As parents, I suspect that Ken and I are above average on the strictness scale. Take clothing, for example. Seven years of seeing what passed for “suitable attire” at the middle school level settled the issue of modesty in dress for me long before I converted to Catholicism or had children of my own. This means our daughters are not to wear shorts that could double as underwear in terms of length. Our boys are not allowed to display their underwear from the tops of their pants (we’re trying to work on “no underwear on display at all”, but our boys are still young, so I’m hoping there’s still time to drill that one into their thick skulls). We’re not talking Catholic-Amish wardrobe choices here, but collars do have to be worn to Mass, and writing across one’s butt is never, ever acceptable (no, boys, not even if it’s a “Kick Me” sign that you taped to an unaware sibling). So the kids’ ability to express themselves via their clothing is limited to what passes Ken’s and my litmus test of modesty.
Same thing with music. I’m not much of a music lover, so I don’t feel the need to have it playing in the background during our weekdays. Ken, however, is a music lover, and very much finds music is a means of personal expression. Unfortunately, judging by the music he picks, Ken wants to express a lot of screaming and swearing, since that’s pretty much all I hear coming from the radio when he’s in charge of the dial. So we have the always fun discussion about whether or not Pearl Jam shrieking at the top of their lungs, even if it’s mostly unintelligible, is really good for the kids to listen to. In turn, he stares at me pointedly and begins muttering about drugs when I try to crank up Tom Petty. Despite this, one of our sons has developed a strong love for all things Elvis, and another one is happy to occasionally declare that he’s “got the moves like Jagger”. Whatever that means.
Books and movies are another area where people like to cultivate an identity, as every single Trekkie can attest. Here, they’re both subject to the same parental censorship as anything else fun. I try to read all the books my 10 year old does- sometimes even before she gets to them. When I’m backlogged on junky serial books on fairies and unicorns and such that she wants me to preview, I hand her something like The Hobbit to buy me time. Ken and the girl are going to start reading Harry Potter soon, with the idea that they’ll read one a year, watch the movie, and by the time the book’s characters and moral situations get more complex, our daughter will be old enough to intelligently respond. Hunger Games, however much I enjoyed it, is just going to have to wait a few years before it gets released to the kids.
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