Every father knows that in the eyes of his children, he is different things at different times. Sometimes cool, sometimes ignorable, sometimes intolerable. And often, the father is tested by the behavior of kis kids. Sometimes the test is intentional, others, a surprise. Take last night, for instance….
On our way home from yet another fabulous basketball practice for my daughter’s team, my sweet wife asked me if “Andrew has told me his news…”.
(At that very moment, my panic response kicked in. It is a predictable response in me. It is that natural assumption, that conclusion jump that tells me my kids have done something horrible, or that they have done something not-so-horrible, but enough of something to embarass me.)
“What kind of news?” I asked. My sweet wife responded by saying that he would have to tell me on his own.
OK, so for the next hour, the back of my mind was filled with the most awful and terrible things that my son could have been involved with…. so fragile was my emotional state that I never noticed the calm and stable behaviour of my sweet wife.
Finally at home, during a commercial in Wreckreation Nation, the Sweet One asked the Number One Son if he had told me his news….
He stood up and while he mumbled something about losing a bet, he brushed his beautiful long brown locks from around his red right ear to reveal…
Yep. An ear stud in the top of his ear.
Like taking a punch in the gut, I inhaled a quick breath, and while the blood drained from my head and my vision faded, I had to think quickly. How would I respond in such a way that would let him know of my eternal love for him, despite the unnatural piece of shiny shrapnel intentionally lodged in his ear that surely indicates that somewhere along the parenting line, something went horribly wrong?
In my eloquence, all I could say was. “boy, cover it back up.”
That’s it. I couldn’t get angry, ’cause I love him too much. I couldn’t scream, because Madilyn was sitting in my lap. And I didn’t notice the Sweet One, again, cracking a huge grin over to my left….
When I could breathe again, I said, “Andrew, you’re 18 years old; you can do whatever you want with your ears, but I wouldn’t hire you with that in there.” (I thought that was notably eloquent, and particularly, wise.)
Andrew walked over to me, then said “Then I guess I should take it out.” And he removed that silly plastic fake earstud and tossed in on the table. And he laughed a huge, beautiful, laugh, accompanied by the sweet, musical laughter of my wife and daughter. As the blood rushed back into my head, I realized I had been tested- even as a joke- and had passed. I found a way to squelch my usual judgmental and angry response, and, for the most part, remained calm. I passed!
My beautiful family laughed a lot about that ear stud.
I, too, will laugh someday, I’m sure…
Life is good!