Friday, June 26, 2009

neither hair nor there

My parents are visiting this weekend for Paige's birthday on Sunday. It is a good thing, I love them and am grateful they are here. Yet as hard as I try, being a grown-up and all, sometimes it is supremely difficult to bite my tongue during certain conversations. Frankly, I deliberately steer discussions to the most mundane, mind-numbingly basic/nearly idiotic topics ("Have you ever tried this kind of cottage cheese?" "I saw a squirrel do the craziest thing the other day!") because I just want to avoid talking about things that turn me back into an annoyed, stifled teenager who glumly realizes she will never, ever change her parents' minds about anything important. And then, being a grown-up, I tell myself it doesn't really matter if they agree with my point of view. But that doesn't help much when the subject is my parenting.

I think this falls under the category of "I can talk about my kids' shortcomings but YOU may not [unless you are my very best friend who knows how to do it kindly. And infrequently]." Tonight my dad reintroduced the subject of Personal Appearance, specifically referring to Mason's oft-preferred method of doing his hair. Which is to say, he doesn't. AND we, his parents, allow this to happen. As I have attempted to explain before, it is a battle I'm not interested in waging given the vast opportunities for engagement ahead of us as he enters adolescence. My dad, a strong-willed Scorpio/Texan/former Navy officer & firefighter [P.S. There is nothing wrong with any of these things; they are just a volatile combination], finds this an unacceptable stance.

We went around a few times (BECAUSE I CANNOT SHUT MYSELF UP) with the main points being It Matters how you look and how people think of you, and it's a parent's job to make sure a kid is looking Right [Dad] vs. Yes It Matters [look at me conceding a point! Maturity in action] in certain circumstances but in the end it is Important to be true to yourself; I see my job as making sure my kids realize the impact of their appearance but ultimately make their own choices. To which he pursed his lips and looked away, shaking his head. But you know what? That is progress. Previously, he would lapse into an ominous stony silence to indicate his disapproval and everyone in the vicinity would suffer in discomfort. Tonight, he seemed more resigned to my liberal hippie ways and gave me a hug & kiss on his way out the door.

Maybe next time I'll talk about how I allow my students to wear hats & swear in class.