Pride Slays Thanksgiving and Hair Too

A green lawn is unattainable in the state of Florida for a person who doesn’t have the means of a golf course. Now you know. I just saved you countless hours spent watering and nurturing what will surely be a failed endeavor. It took me tripling my water bill and wasting hundreds of dollars to give in. I was a new homeowner. I wanted to take pride the appearance of my lawn, even if it was mostly brown with patches of green. I wanted to be the envy of my neighbors.

Pride is a weird word. It can change definitions like a chameleon. It can be the cause for reverence, or the source of being despised. It can be the seed that grows self-reliance. It can be the sun that wilts the leaves of cooperation. It is destructive and great at the same time.

Pride in your child, can have the same results. This past Saturday, pride was on display and I’ve been beaming ever since.

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We had put it off long enough. The dreaded day that I had procrastinated to the point of negligence had arrived. Carson had begun the transformation from little boy, to long haired John Lennon worshipping hippie and the regression had to happen today. No rationalizing. No more delays. I was hours away from him talking with a fake British accent and getting a life ruining wife. The line in the sand had been drawn.

I whispered to him,”You wanna go get an Icee?” A cheap tactic, I know, but I wasn’t prepared for the wrestling match that would have ensued if I had been completely honest. Regardless, he sprinted to the car and was buckled in record time. His brother heard of our mission and followed behind in what would be described as a bucket of tears held together by flailing appendages. Lacey scooped him up and disappeared behind a closing garage door. Carson was undeterred and focused on that blue Icee.

The car ride was uneventful, mainly because Carson didn’t notice the Sonic when we drove by. I’m a master of distraction and he’s a trusting soul.

I applied the brakes and Carson immediately recognized where we were. “I’m not getting a haircut?” he asked.

“Yeah buddy, it’s haircut time.”

The tears escaped his eyes and he repeated that he wasn’t getting a haircut.

“Buddy, I need you to be really brave today. I know you can do it.”

He dried his eyes and we exited the car. He squeezed my hand as we walked in. The four barbers let out a collective sigh. They knew us. They knew what the next 20 minutes would look like. They knew the blows they would absorb from escaping arms and legs. They knew that I picked them at random when we first landed in Yuma. They knew they had spun the wheel of Carson and were winners for the next three years. They knew.

Or did they.

Carson and I climbed in the chair. He buried his face in my chest and cried. In between sobs, he asked,”Am I done?”a few hundred times. This was par for the course. What wasn’t normal was that he sat relatively still. I consoled him through the tears and the clippings and itching. The barber stopped to change guards and Carson took the opportunity to scotch guard my shoulder. Our faces locked and he asked,”I’m being brave dad?”.

“Of course, big guy. You’re being brave.”

The barber continued to shear away the unwanted hair. She consoled him through broken English and what sounded like sympathetic Spanish. Carson again asked if it was over. Broken English that I couldn’t decipher, but she stopped cutting. Carson took this to mean that all was good and popped out of my arms. The shirt immediately was removed and a dance that resembled Elaine Benes at an office party commenced.

I paid and we exited the shop. A skinny, pale, and shirtless Carson held my hand to the car. I scooped him and kissed his hair covered forehead. He settled into his car seat. The tears had dried and composure was fully regained. We rolled down the road toward the Icee store. I hadn’t lied, just delayed.

“I was brave, dad.”

I didn’t know if it was a question or a statement. Several seconds passed. More seconds. I didn’t say anything. I couldn’t ruin this moment. The moment I was the most proud of my son. It wasn’t that he didn’t cry, or didn’t scream, or didn’t get upset. He did all of those things. It was that even though he was scared, he did it anyway. I asked him to be brave, and he was.

There are many times I’ve been proud of Carson. He has been the quiet protector and the unwilling sharer. Last Saturday, he became brave because he was asked. And that’s a great reason to be prideful.

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Carson Is Not Thomas Edison’s Kid

I don’t like many things. Seinfeld felt my pain. His ability to be frustrated over the minutiae of daily life made me a devoted follower, because there was someone else out there like me. For example, I dated a girl in college who would sing “…give me the Beach Boys and free my soul// I wanna get lost in….”. No matter how many times I corrected her, she still sang it that way. It was like nails on the chalkboard of my soul. Although I’m sure that wasn’t the only reason we broke up, that is the lasting memory I have of her. Additionally, I’m quite the contrarian. With most of my lineage originating in the Commonwealth of Kentucky, I naturally hated the one thing that united them: the Lexington institution of “higher” learning’s basketball team. I chose to root for Duke University just to infuriate them. There were no ties to Duke or even the state of North Carolina, but it was the team that they hated most.

But the bit of minutiae that I hate at the moment, is the traditional practice of shaving. Hot water. Foaming goo. Carefully scraping a sharp object across the surface of your face. Pieces of toilet paper sticking to your face, because there is no way to not cut your face. Your face is shaped like a face. It will get cut. Going into the process knowing you will disfigure yourself is a good way to lower your expectations. I highly advise it. The whole practice is non-sensical and stupid. These guys agree:

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Luckily, someone shared my distaste for the process and invented the electric razor. In the infancy of my shaving years, I was told that the electric razor was inferior to manual. Despite these claims (and my contrarian nature), I dismissed the detractors and became a loyal electric razorer. Many a joyous morning was spent looking in the rear view mirror and shaving without a care in the world. Sure, there were looks from other commuters, but they were just jealous of my ten extra minutes if sleep.

There is one drawback of the electric razor. It must be assembled to work. I know this because mine is currently in a non-mission capable state, due to it being in a dozen pieces and occupying the vast black hole that is the backseat of the car.

Upon returning from church last weekend, I noticed the razor was missing from the designated cup holder. I traced its path by following the parts laid out like bread crumbs and it led to my oldest’s seat. Doing his best Thomas Edison, he was looking closely, turning knobs, and of course evaluating the razor’s durability through a series of stress tests. I sat and watched this happening. My hope was that he would conclude his tests, then gather the parts and assemble them with little to no effort. His keen analytical mind would see the puzzle strewn out before him an develop a MacGuyver instinct to make it not only a razor, but a weather sensor that would assist in clothing choices. This was not the case. He was as puzzled as I was, and about half as interested.

I started gathering pieces of my formerly awesome razor. Carson seemed inattentive and apathetic to my plight. He knew not of the burning, itching, and accidental cutting. How could he understand? His life is filled with a no consequence diet and unlimited toys. He has another decade of this feeling. His face will stay smooth and hair free for the foreseeable future.

And honestly, I don’t want to ruin his ignorance. I want him to stay five years old forever. I want him to think his daddy has the biggest muscles. That happiness is as easy as a pack of gum. And that success is talking your mom into a pack of Cars 2 microdrifters. I want him to sit in my lap and read his books forever.

But that isn’t how it goes. One day he too will know the pain of shaving. Then the joy of me purchasing him an electric razor. And the abject horror of me taking that razor apart with a hammer. 😉