The Hair-Hating Gene

“WHY?”  he grumbles.  “Why does my hair always do this on Sunday morning?”  My 13-year-old Sidney stands in front of the mirror, pressing down on his hair.

Hmmmm, he is starting to pay attention to how he looks, I think.  I wonder if this is the teenager self-conscious thing that I hear about and vaguely remember, when young people become overly preoccupied with how they look.

He combs his hair straight down.  It springs up.  He combs it to the left.  It springs up.  He combs it to the right.  It springs up.

“Maybe if I comb it left, right, left, right, left, right, it will lay down,” he says to himself as his arms moves back and forth, back and forth.

I bite down on the giggle and refrain from offering advice, a truly heroic endeavor on my part.

“Hair is so impractical,” he declares, reaching for the faucet.  He runs water over his comb.

“What is the purpose of hair anyway?  And why do we have so much of it?”  He runs the wet comb through his hair, pressing down.

“The whole world would be a better place if we were all bald.”

I guess I can stop wondering about teenage vanity.  It appears Sidney is infected with the same hair-hating gene as his father.  I specifically remember when I cautiously informed Sid that his hair was thinning on top.  I thought it might bother him, but he appeared completely unruffled.  All my concerns were completely laid to rest weeks later, when I discovered Sid in the bathroom with a hand mirror trying to get a look at his bald spot, and mumbling to himself, “Fall out, baby. Fall baby.”

I don’t think women can inherit the the hair-hating gene.  I cried when mine started thinning and falling out a couple of years ago.  Thankfully, it stopped and seems to have stabilized, though I keep an anxious eye on it.

For my picture-appreciating man

who read Tuesday’s post “I steal his things” and commented,”Awwww, you didn’t post a picture.”

It also occurred to me that a picture would explain why I did not immediately catch on to the direct relationship between Sid’s nailing down of his office supplies and my theft of his 3-hole-punch.

He screwed them vertically to this homemade shelf on his desktop.  So it looks like he did it to conserve desktop space and still keep his handy tools . . . well, handy.  (Apparently, he doesn’t think hiking up the stairs to the schoolroom and searching through my desk and shelves is “handy.”)

And just to make my love sweat a little . . . . .I did a little investigating . . . .

Just for curiosity’s sake, of course.

But now I know exactly how they are attached. 

I know where the screwdrivers are  my boys know where the screwdrivers are.

I’m pretty sure I know how to use a screwdriver.

I steal his things

and how he deals with me . . . . . . . .

Sid stood in the schoolroom last night, quietly watching and waiting while I took care of last minute school checking.

“Here, Sidney, 3-hole-punch this and put it in your book.”  I hand Sidney his geography pages.

“Three hole punch . . . . . . . ,”  Sid muses, “that brings back a memory.”  He is wearing a little smile.

“What memory is that?” I ask, innocently walking right into it.

“The memory of my 3-hole-punch disappearing from my office and reappearing in the schoolroom . . . . . .when I mentioned that it needed to be put back, I remember what you said —-You shrugged your shoulders and told me  that you assumed I had become resigned to the fact that it was no longer my 3-hole-punch.”

I giggled, though I felt chagrined too.  What had I been thinking?  Sid’s obvious amusement kept the embarrassment from lingering.

We bundled up and headed to the Suburban.  Sid’s work truck had been fixed, and was sitting in the Blue Ridge Tire lot.  He needed it very early the next morning,  so we were off to town to bring it home tonight.

A full 10 minutes have passed and I am still thinking about that 3-hole-punch.  Suddenly, the ole brain synapses make a connection and I see the answer to a mystery wavering within my grasp.

“Is that when you nailed your stapler and tape dispenser to your desk?  Was that AFTER the 3-hole-punch thing?”

“Yep,” he admitted.  “I envisioned you tugging and tugging on that tape dispenser and finally giving up when it wouldn’t budge.”

I laughed.  He knew I was too lazy to attempt prying it off.

In the backseat , the 4-year-old gave a long-suffering sigh and said very seriously, “You guys are just a little tooooo funny.”

An UnOrdinary Hour

***In the interest of complete truthfulness and because my children will likely read this post and wonder at my ability to understand the passage of time, this “night” actually occurred  5 nights ago, which is when I began writing the post.***

Sometimes we are just living our ordinary moments when suddenly, I am struck by the UN-ordinariness of our lives — the preciousness of “here and now,” this exact moment, those exact words, the shape of Prairie’s eyes when she scrunches up her face, the curve of Lincoln’s smile.  It is that brief moment when I am wise, and my heart clings to every sight and sound, savoring it, wrapping it in memory, protecting it from loss.

This happened to me tonight, and these are the memories I captured . . . . . . . . . .

“What’s for supper Mama?” Rachel asks.

“Roast, sprout salad and buttered noodles.”

A very brief moment of silence as her mind shifts through her distaste for roast and ambivalence toward sprouts.  In the next instant, she throws her arms around my thighs and hugs me.  “Oh THANK YOU for making noodles Mama!”  Suddenly, I want to make this girl cookies.

Cleaning up after supper,  Sidney wiping counters,  Lincoln sweeping the mudroom, I load the dishwasher and Sid clears the table.

“I took some of your Lentil Soup for lunch today.  It was most excellent,” Sid complimented me.

“Oh, did you remember to douse your lunch portion with oil and balsalmic vinegar before you took it with you?”  In my book, these last minute additions to the individual serving MADE the soup.

“No,” he said.  “But you added it to the big pot of soup last night.”

“No, I didn’t,” I said, half-frowning and searching my memory, feeling certain that I had followed the new recipe to the letter.

“I watched you pour it in.”  Sid insisted.

I bit my bottom lip and kept loading the dishwasher.  Sid stepped toward me in a mock-threatening way, pretending to stare me down if I dared to look at him.

I peeked up at him, smiled and said, “I am soooo defying you in my head.”

In his best John Wayne voice, he drawls, “As long as that is where is stays, Little Lady.” 

Our way of recognizing that we were on the verge of foolishly arguing over oil and  balsamic vinegar and poking fun at ourselves.

After-supper-chores done, we piled on jackets and tied on shoes.  Stepping into the January night,  I was thankful for these warmer days after the previous weeks of freezing temperatures.  It felt chilly, but not freezing tonight.  The three eldest children ran down the driveway, yelling, laughing, blending into the darkness except for the crazy dance of their flashlights.  They are brave in their togetherness.

The stars clear and bright, a sliver of moon with a haze over it.  Prairie’s hand grasped tightly in mine to keep her from slipping on the gravel driveway.  Sid grabs my other hand.  “Just wait until this spring . . . . . . after the kids are in bed, we’ll take walks down the driveway, holding hands, in the moonlight.”

I hear the warm anticipation in his voice and feel mildly surprised.  We had begun those nightly walks 2 years ago when I was nearly bedridden sick.  I had needed the exercise, though it felt physically impossible to move.  Sid pushed himself to do 4 times more work in a day, pushed himself to get home at a decent hour, then pushed his exhausted body further still, while pulling his diseased wife around our trailer at night. 

What had begun as desperation turned into a beautiful hope.  He would talk to me during our walk, taking my mind from the dwelling place of exhaustion, health research and debate over my next treatment option.  The anticipation of those nightly walks with him kept me tethered to the hope and beauty before me.

One night, we laid on a blanket in the yard and looked at the stars.  I remember how time seemed suspended and if I just looked hard enough, I could look right past those stars, beyond the universe and see God.  I remember thinking that I might not live long, but that moment with Sid under the stars was bigger than life and death, and I was peaceful.

But tonight . . . . . . . . .tonight, we are not trudging along in exhaustion and three of our children are wisps in the night, while the littlest fearfully clings to my hand.  We are on a mission, a mission to see Daddy’s new “baby” trackhoe.  We finally make it to the old trailer, where Sid parks his trucks and equipment.  I hear lots of giggling, shushing and finally, a howl.  The boys must remember their “camping trip.”

Gathering around the truck and trailer, we watch Sid unload his “baby,” which unleashed a flurry of excitment in the children.

“Daddy, may I ride with you?” asks Rachel.

“Can I drive it?”  Sidney test-drives the machine, already looking like a young man on that thing, even at the tender age of 10.  Both my boys filled to the brim with brashness and foolhardy confidence.

Sid lifts the extra bucket,  “Look at the bucket.  Isn’t it cute?”  Though I wonder at his definition of “cute,” I am certain of the man’s brilliant business sense.  No doubt that trading in one of his bobcats for the “baby” will prove to be a wise business move.

The night’s chill worked its way through our jackets, and we were ready for the long trek back to the house.  Prairie and I nearly run into Lincoln, standing still as a statue in the dark.  My Mama Sense knew something was wrong and I was fairly sure I knew what it was.  But I wanted my reticent boy to verbalize his thoughts, so I waited.  Haltingly, he finally shares his disappointment that he did not get a turn on the baby trackhoe.  The desire to turn back and give my son his turn is great, but greater still is the desire to raise a strong man, a man who won’t turn away in frustration with the people he loves because his voice is too soft, because he has not spoken clearly and made his thoughts and desires known.

One hand still clasping Prairie, my other hand on Lincoln’s shoulder, I pull him close, hoping he can feel my love for him if he doesn’t hear it in my counsel.  After a few moments, he takes off, once again running in the night with his siblings, and all appears well again.

My littlest tightens her grip on my hand.  “Mama, I’m afraid of dinosaurs.”  Relieved, I am more confident in my ability to handle this concern.