Time to lay down the law

Published 12:00 am Sunday, December 12, 2004

I was blessed growing up with parents who were lenient. I don’t think they had always been that way because my older siblings were always amazed at the things I got away with. They apparently were not always that way, but they were both in their late 30s by the time I, their fifth child, came along so I imagine they were tired and had merely surrendered.

As such, as a 9-year-old fourth grader in the tiny southern West Virginia town of Danville in 1970, my parents didn’t seem to mind when I wanted to grow my hair long.

Danville was such a redneck, hick town that I was threatened with expulsion.

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I continued to wear my hair long until I finished college. It wasn’t a sign of rebellion or anything noble like that. It’s just that I was born with a tiny pea head that with my thin hair when short, looked rather bizarre atop my large frame. My wife and kids still urge me to keep my hair long so that they are not embarrassed to be seen with me in public.

Anyway, I always appreciated my parents’ tolerance of me and my many forays into things that were not their gig – listening to loud music, reading seditious literature and a penchant for a little mischief. They gave me a lot of rope, I suppose in the hope that I would make some mistakes of my own and learn from them. I’d like to think I did and I hoped I would be the same kind of parent.

But, it’s never been an issue – until now, at least. Fortunately, we’ve got two good kids. They can be a little mouthy to us but they’ve never come close to doing anything I would consider bad.

My son got into the guitar about a year ago, and for the past six months has sported long hair. I was surprised that I was a little disturbed by this. Not because of any moral opposition, just that unlike me, he has his mother’s thick, lustrous hair, as well as a normal, human-sized noggin and his hair, when short, naturally does that cool blow dry thing without the help of sprays and gels, which I have to use to keep my little bit of hair from looking like Adolph Hitler’s.

But he likes it and that’s OK with me. No harm done. He’s also quit listening to the guitar-driven rock that my wife and I liked and started listening to hip hop. We had always talked about how much we hated hip hop, but after being exposed to it for awhile, it has started to grow on us. I particularly like Eminem, Snoop Dog and Xzibit. I find it fun and even witty.

Recently, he started talking about getting dreadlocks and having his ears pierced and then it finally dawned on me – I don’t think Adam likes me liking what he likes. The poor kid is doing his best it seems to rebel against me and just can’t find anything that irritates me. Thursday, when his mother took him to the mall, he started pleading for the ear piercing. Cathy called me to discuss it and after thinking about it for a minute, it seemed harmless enough so I said OK. I think this caught Adam by surprise. I don’t think he really wanted to get his ear pierced but had backed himself into a corner. He went through with it and I think regrets it somewhat.

Before Adam drives himself insane, I suppose I’m going to have to take a stand against something. He wants a set of drums. Even though I want to encourage him to pursue his music, I think I’m going to have to put my foot down. We’ll probably end up getting them for him, but I’ll make sure I complain every time he plays them to keep him from finding something dangerous on which to challenge me.

Either that, or he’ll want a tattoo next. Those are pretty cool.

Andy Prutsok is editor and publisher of the News-Herald. He can be reached at 934-9611, or via email at andy.prutsok@suffolknewsherald.com