Hair Revisited

I seriously do not remember talking about body hair this much when I was in Middle School. Certainly not with male friends. A different generation. A different time. A different girl. This post recounts another recent conversation Jane had with the two boys, Brad and Chris, who questioned her lack of arm shaving in Hair.

This time, it wasn’t her arms. It was her legs. When she started begging to shave so many years ago, I made the same argument that many moms make: Once you start, you have to keep doing it. You don’t get to stop. And you’ll get tired of it, trust me. Well, I was right on the last point, but dang it if she didn’t prove me wrong on the first point.

During home room, Jane placed her foot on the table so that she could retrieve a piece of paper she had tucked into one of her tall Nike socks. (Remember what I said about a different time? When I was young, the only people who wore tall black socks while wearing shorts were old men who completed the ensemble with sandals. Now, it’s the cool look.)

Anyway, as she extracted the paper, Brad exclaimed, “Oh, man, Jane! You’ve got REALLY hairy legs! You’ve got more hair on your legs than I do!”

“You know, Brad, that’s really not good,” she responded, referring to his apparent lack of manliness. “Seriously though, when you shave it grows back darker and thicker.”

“Uh-huh. Sure it does.”

Jane responded with a dismissive shrug.

Chris asked the inevitable follow-up question to their previous discussion: “I thought you said you shave your legs.”

“I do… On Sundays… Sometimes… If I feel like it… If I’m not being too lazy.” She shrugged again.

The boys continued to harass her, making every attempt to embarrass her or hurt her feelings. At this point, she was laughing so hard that she could barely speak.

“Seriously, guys. I couldn’t care less what you think about my legs. Seriously. I couldn’t. Care. Less.”

To be honest, I’m not sure what I was more proud of: her bold self-confidence or her proper use of “couldn’t care less” over the often-used “could care less.” The perfect mix of father and mother.

Grammar Joking

During a midday phone conversation, my dear husband said, “Well, I need to go. Aubrey and me are getting ready to do some cool work.”

“You meant ‘Aubrey and I are getting ready to do some cool work’,” I replied as I always do. I then went on to jokingly rant about now knowing where his daughter gets it. I was so busy harassing him that I almost missed his response:

“No, I don’t think you’d be very good at it, actually.”

He eventually interrupted me to claim that he had gotten just the response he had wanted.

“Wait,” I said. “Are you actually trying to claim that you deliberately utilized poor grammar in order to provoke me into correcting you so you could make that lame joke?”

“That’s exactly what I’m saying.”

“And you expect me to believe that?”

“Yes.”

At this point in our relationship, we are both so predictable, it’s almost sad. But still fun.

Popular Nerds

During dinner tonight, I made an announcement.

“Guess what, everyone! Today at work, I joined the ranks of the cool people. Seriously. I. Am. Now. Part. Of. The. Cool. Crowd.” I nodded proudly. “I {slight pause for effect} now have six – yes, six monitors. And four of them are stacked up on each other in two rows. I know. You are impressed. Only the coolest people in the lab have that.”

“Mom,” Daryl said, “You just said in the lab. That’s such a nerdy thing to say. In the lab.”

“Ok. Did you hear me express pride about having six monitors? I think that already makes me enough of a nerd.”

“I’m a nerd,” said Jane.

“No you aren’t. You gave up being a nerd awhile ago,” I responded.

“Not true! I’m still a nerd.”

“No you aren’t. You’re a jock. You can’t be both a nerd and a jock. It doesn’t work that way. Besides, didn’t Gary call you one of the most popular girls in the school last year? Nerds aren’t popular.”

“Yes, I can be both. I still like school and make good grades and like to read.”

“Ok, so you are a jock that does well in school. You can’t be a nerd and a jock though.”

She continued to argue the point as Daryl chimed in, “There are several popular groups at my school. There’s David and Jack and those guys that are strong and play football on the playground and then there’s Harry and Aaron and I who are really into Pokemon.”

I started laughing. “Honey, I’m sorry, but the guys really into Pokemon aren’t ‘cool’. You’re a nerd and I love that about you.”

“Oh yeah? Lots of people in the school know who I am.”

“That doesn’t make you popular – just well known. Lots of people knew who I was too.”

“I’d say that probably all the first graders know who I am. And the third graders too because Ms. Tanner brags about how many reading AR points I got.”

“Honey, if they know who you are because the teacher brags about how much you read, that makes you a nerd and a teacher’s pet, not popular necessarily.”

Jane reinserted herself by naming a couple of the more popular athletic boys and claiming they are some of the biggest nerds she knows. “They even call themselves nerds. They are the biggest nerds I know – next to him, that is,” she finished, gesturing to her brother.

“Did you hear that Daryl? She just said you are the biggest nerd she knows! That’s awesome! High five buddy!”

We exchanged smiles and a big high five. Yes, this is a typical conversation in our family. Every family needs something to be proud of and to spark some friendly competition amongst its members.

At Least We Have Austin

We were visiting Rocky Mountain National Park recently. Near the main visitor center is a long staircase leading to a vantage point for taking pictures or just looking around. It had been closed for construction last time we were there and this time the boys wanted to walk up.

So we did, just the three of us. The rest of the family hung out at the visitor center, drinking hot chocolate and checking out the view from the massive windows.

When we got to the top, we found ourselves in a lucky lull between crowds of people. It was just a dad with his two kids and us. We each did our own thing until Daryl walked up to me, looking very concerned and uncomfortable.

“Mommy,” he said, “that man over there told his kids, ‘Hey, you should be doing better than this. You are from Colorado, not Texas!’ Why would he say that?”

My poor son looked like his feelings were hurt. Either that, or he was wondering if there was something wrong with being from Texas.

“Oh, honey, he’s probably referring to the altitude. I bet his kids were complaining about the walk.”

About then, the man, having overheard our conversation, looked over and said, “I’m sorry if you guys are from Texas. I could have picked any place: Louisiana, Oklahoma, whatever. It doesn’t mean anything.”

“Actually,” I said, “we are from Texas. Well, they are. I live there but still have trouble claiming it.”

After nearly twenty years, I’m not sure why I still say that. Part of it is because my general outlook on life and society is so different from the standard Texas one. Mostly though, it’s because I grew up in Oklahoma and Oklahomans have chips on their shoulders about Texas, that big neighbor to the south that thinks so much of itself.

As I was pondering whether I should embrace my children’s birth state more fully, the man said, “At least you have Austin!”

I laughed. Yes, at least we have Austin. I laughed because it’s not the first time I’ve heard that remark as I’ve traveled the country and because he tipped his political hand in that one brief remark. I can only assume that those of a more liberal persuasion have resisted completely writing off Texas because at least we have Austin.

Sleeping Alone

Daryl spent the night at a friend’s house last night. He’s done this before but it’s been awhile. Hal doesn’t like it. Not one bit. He’s very accustomed to having his brother in the room with him. He said he was scared when we put him to bed and we told him he’d be fine.

Sometime after my husband left to pick up Jane from her outing with a friend, I thought I heard Hal’s door open. I gazed down the hall but saw nothing. I turned back to the computer. Time passed. Then my chair moved ever so slightly. Hal was hiding behind my chair.

“I’m scared Mommy. I don’t like Bubba being gone.”

I had him lay on the guest bed nearby until I finished the night’s blog post. Then I carried him back to his room.

“You know,” I said, as I tucked him back in, “when Bubba was about your age…” I was about to tell him that his Bubba had slept in a room by himself, but then it dawned on me that five years ago, I was about to give birth to Hal. We had already moved Jane into Daryl’s room so we could turn her room into Hal’s nursery. But, wait! That means…

“You know what, Hal?”

“What?”

“Did you know you slept in a room by yourself when you were a little baby?”

“No.”

“Yep. You slept in a room by yourself until you were about 2 or 3 years old. Sissy’s room used to be yours.”

He got a big smile on his face. “I did?”

“Yep. So, see? You’ve done it before. You are just scared now because you aren’t used to it. But it’ll be ok. I wouldn’t put a baby in a room by himself if it wasn’t safe, would I? And I wouldn’t do it to you now. You’ll be fine. I promise. Just remember when you get scared that you’ve done it before, even if you don’t remember. Ok?”

He snuggled into his blanket like he was willing to give it a shot, but then, speaking very slowly as if working it out in his head, he said, “Well, Mommy, maybe when I was two I was really brave and now that I’m four, I’m not very brave at all.”

“Oh, sweetheart. You are just as brave now as you were then. You just didn’t know anything different then. I bet if we grew another bedroom on this house and moved you into your own room, you’d stop being scared in no time. You just aren’t used to it, that’s all.”

With that, I gave him a hug and left him to face the monstrous silence of an empty room. Alone.

Pantomime

One of Jane’s friends asked her to accompany her to the skating rink this evening. The friend had been invited by another friend but didn’t know any of the friend’s friends so was concerned about going without a backup friend. Clear as mud, right?

No matter. It’s not what this tale is about. It just sets the scene. We arrived at the skating rink before the friend arrived. Jane and I were standing at the door while my husband and Hal and Rose, the dog, waited in the car about thirty feet away.

As per her custom, Rose moved up to the front passenger seat – my seat – and sat down, looking out the windows as if she belonged there. I gestured toward the dog and then lifted my arms to the sides with my palms up in a what’s up with that?! gesture.

My husband shrugged back and grinned. I shook my finger at him. He gave the dog a hug and me another grin. I then brushed my backside. He responded by patting the dog vigorously and then bursting out laughing at my shocked indignation.

“Pretty cool that we just pantomimed that entire conversation, huh?” I said to Jane.

“What are you talking about?”

“Daddy and I. The conversation we just had.” She looked at me like I was crazy. “It’s simple,” I said. “I expressed displeasure that the dog was in my seat. He pretended he didn’t know what my problem was. I got onto him for it and he laughed at me. Then I indicated that I didn’t want to get dog hair all over my rear when I got back in the car. He teased me by patting the dog in a way that would cause her to shed more hair onto the seat.”

“I see. It’s a good thing you guys are married to each other because if I was married to either one of you, it wouldn’t work out because I wouldn’t have a clue what you were trying to say.”

“Well, we have been together for quite awhile.”

Another Morning In Paradise

First we watched Jane braid her hair in our room in front of our mirror while dressed in only her underwear and sports bra.

Then I saw Daryl sitting on the couch playing games on his Nintendo DS. When I asked him to take care of the dishes, he suddenly remembered he needed to use the bathroom. Not to mention brush his hair and teeth.

Hal started off the morning playing with a toy airplane. He moved on to stealing his brother’s plastic recorder because Daryl obviously intended to relinquish ownership when he left it sitting on Hal’s bed. Once I broke up that fight, Hal finally managed to change his underwear and then proceeded to parade around the house announcing to me how comfortable the new pair was.

We had conversations with the still-not-fully-dressed Jane about volleyball, cell phones, work schedules, and more until she got frustrated, noticed the time, and loudly pronounced it time to leave.

With a serious case of bed head, Daryl seemed confused as to why I wouldn’t return his DS to him.

After the caravan left without him because he was not ready to go, Hal got upset that I refused to let him wear long sleeves with his long pants when it’s going to be ninety degrees outside. His teachers already think he’s strange for refusing to wear shorts most days.

And all of this before I managed to complete a shower.