So I was raking leaves and cleaning out the flower beds in our backyard talking with my lovely and talented wife Alison about our kids in general and our 14-year-old son in particular.
You know how we parents do. Alison was bemoaning the fact that she thought Wesley had been naive in one of his boy-girl relationships recently and said that he needed to, “Wake up and smell the roses.”
I just stood there for a minute and thought about the metaphor. “Wake up and smell the roses,” I thought. Hmmm. But Alison was on a roll and I didn't know if it was worth correcting or not. You know, you don't want to be a nit-picker with someone you are spending the rest of your life with.
“I think that would be 'Wake up and smell the coffee,' baby,” I said.
“What did I say?”
“You said, Wake up and smell the roses.”
“Whatever,” she said. “You get the point.”
Yes, and the point is we have now come to the years of our life when we are – RAISING TEENAGERS. Lord, have mercy! Has 40 ever come so quickly.
I know parents today are dealing with – in their own ways – some of the common things all parents of every generation have to face with teens. One thing that bugs me – and I know it shouldn't, but it does anyway – is this deal with hair drooping down in the eyes of the boys. You know, where they can barely see and where they are constantly having to jerk their neck around to keep the hair out of their eyes. To which all spring and summer I tried logic.
“Wesley, you need to get a good haircut and you won't have to jerk your neck around all day to keep the hair out of your eyes,” I have said to him on numerous occasions. And when he would go to the hair salon (whatever happened to the term “beauty shop” by the way?) I was hardly able to tell it. A “good” cut in front was just below the eyebrows.
“Dad, you are the only one worried about my hair,” he would say back to me and shake his head, causing his hair to get in his eyes, and then he would jerk his neck around. “It's not in my eyes and when it bothers me, I'll get it cut. Besides, Mom doesn't care.”
Alison would then explain to me that I was making a big deal out of a small matter and that I should let her finesse the situation. Told me to quit worrying about it. So I would let it go for a few days. I guess we parents have to balance each other like that. Good cop, bad cop sometimes. She then reminds me of my shoulder length hair in high school when we started dating and I am pretty much silenced.
Another thing that some of the boys are doing today is wearing their clothes unpressed. Many look as if they fell asleep in their clothes and then just rolled out of bed. This is where the feelings of Wesley's mother and I are somewhat reversed. This is something she can hardly stand, whereas it doesn't really bother me. I mean, this means fewer clothes we have to worry about ironing is the way I look at it. I have been waiting for this trend for years. But you press Wesley's pants or shirts too much – and don't even think about starching or creasing – and he really complains.
The other day we were in church and Wesley was dressed and wrinkled. His grandmother (Alison's mom) was sitting beside us and took one look at him and just came right out and challenged her daughter. “Alison, honey, did you not have time to iron Wesley's clothes this morning?”
And then we have many discussions/battles between mother and daughter – Alison and Wriley – also over clothes. Each spring and fall Alison takes Wriley shopping to buy her some new clothes. You know how mothers take pride in picking out just the right clothes for their daughters. They go and choose the clothes – together – but when the season comes to start wearing those clothes our daughter just wants to go back to the jeans and t-shirts or sweatshirts.
This drives my wife nuts. How many times have I heard this discussion: “I go out, spend hours with you picking out these cute clothes, paying good money – money your dad and I could spend on ourselves – and then you won't wear the clothes…” Alison tries to bring me in on this from time to time in support of her position.
“Tim, what do you have to say to her?” she puts me on the spot.
“Yeah, that's right. Wear those cute outfits,” I say. But it's obvious, the passion for this cause is just not in my gut.
But back to the hair in the eyes thing…
Tim Wildmon is a resident of Saltillo. He is a host of Today's Issues on American Family Radio. His column is published every other week. His e-mail address is firstname.lastname@example.org.