When my son was about twelve, I dropped him off at the hair salon for a haircut. About ten minutes later, our stylist called me. “Uh, Lynn, Burk says he wants me to cut his girlfriend’s initials into the hair on the side of his head. He says it’s okay with you—are you sure?”
Is it crazy that I was? When Burk had asked me if it was okay, all I could think was—“he’s not having anything pierced, he’s not getting a permanent tattoo, he’s not smoking anything or cooking drugs in the garage—why shouldn’t I let him do this?” And, more importantly, what would he learn if I told him “no”? That I didn’t respect his ideas? Or that I was more concerned with other people’s opinions than I was with his feelings?
I don’t take credit for the confident, sensitive man he grew into—it’s just who he is, but I did try to make choices that supported his confidence and encouraged his sensitivity.
So when you’re taking your nine-year old granddaughter to her first Broadway play and she insists on wearing jeans instead of the cute dress you bought for her, don’t argue and get frustrated. Remember that although she’s only nine, her opinions matter. Then, smile and hug her and tell her she’s beautiful no matter what she wears.
And when your ninety-one year old father wants to eat toast and ice cream for dinner, don’t tell him he should have something healthier. Remember that although he’s getting old, his opinions should still matter. Then put the grilled chicken away, drop some bread in the toaster, grab a couple of bowls, and dish up some Blue Bell Homemade Vanilla.
Because, my friend, hair grows back and nine-year olds look really cute in jeans and every once in awhile we should probably all have toast and ice cream for dinner.