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.
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.