"Peter, we told you, no tattoos, no body piercing! Green hair is bad enough. What is it you're trying to prove?" I hollered at my lanky, laconic son who was home visiting from college.
"Mom! You don't understand. It's perfectly fine and everybody has 'em. Nobody thinks anything about stuff like this."
Do I pray quickly, shake my son, or love him unconditionally? Forget the "loving, wise mother" title that means so much to women like me. As a mom I keep 'prayed up' for occurrences such as these but that doesn't mean I don't want to disown the kid occasionally.
Peter began his college career at the University of Oregon as a slightly rebellious teenager. The grungier his clothes, the better he felt. The grungier his attitude, the more comfortable he was — but not so with his parents. But as long as he was courteous and civil to us and polite to family and friends we could live with it, and him. We knew it was the age-old phase/stage to be muddled through. Or, mucked through is more like it.
But what a long phase it turned out to be. Patience is not my strongest virtue and I kept thinking that I must need more practice as a mother. Hence, all these motherly trials.
Peter remained at U of O through troubled times, poor grades and never having enough money or desire to make the most of these years since he flew the coop. My chick was flailing and I couldn't help him.
The day in question was when he showed up to attend an annual fire department banquet. Pete's dad, my husband, was the fire chief. We were delighted our dear son wanted to attend and share the special night with us. But soon enough, my angry feelings of wanting to disown him were apparent to everyone present when Pete moseyed through the door with green hair and earrings in both ears and his nose. Ah, pride reared its ugly head. What must the others be saying or thinking?
Many jokes were made that night about the chief's "environmentally correct" son — very green! Fortunately, Peter is blessed with a fine sense of humor and that got him through the night. A few times he actually pulled his big T-shirt over that silly head of his. I laughed and loved him anyway while sitting on these hands of mine so they didn't rush up and shake him to pieces.
I learned two lessons. It's only hair — it will grow, and to be thankful for who my son is, even if he offends me at times. Mark Twain once said, "We wouldn't worry about what others think of us when we realize how seldom they do." What a wise old man. Hopefully, I can help other moms have hope and let them know it's OK, and the stage/phase WILL pass.
Now, many years later, I relish throwing my arms about the neck of my tall firefighter son, a hero who smells good and looks even better. His resemblance to his good-looking father is uncanny. Tall, blonde, Nordic features, deep blue ocean eyes, and a winning smile stretching from here to Sunday. We paid a lot for those pearly whites — not to mention eight and a half years of orthodontia. Now he's a father of two wee ones and I can hardly wait to laugh to myself during THIS stage as he experiences first-hand parenthood.
I'm thankful I controlled my very "unmotherly" instincts to shake that boy not so long ago. Nobody ever said being a mom is easy — Nobody!