Friday, February 29, 2008


Even though I blog about Demon Baby here, this is really my "parenting" blog. And so today I want to write about my Oldest Son.

Oldest Son is a math genius (really!). He's good at chess and math and thinking obscure math thoughts. He also loves babies, sushi, and video games, along with Asian culture and Ninjitsu (which he studies). He is the kid I write about least, worry about least, because the kid has never given me a MOMENT of trouble his whole life. He's the one who comes in to hug me when I am working too hard, who watches his younger siblings without complaint, who empties the dishwasher and does chores without a word of whining.

He has his faults. Absent-minded in the extreme. A habit of sort of "tuning out." But he's basically . . . just perfect the way he is.

Except to his science teacher, whom I will call Evil Science Teacher (EST). EST has decided that my kid, who tests gifted, has not presented her, to her liking, enough "evidence" that he is, indeed, "bright." She actually WROTE me this. And then when I reacted, said she couldn't understand why I found that offensive. But I digress.

Today, my kid was getting ready for school. He has a band thing today, which means he has to wear this uniform exactly so or he gets a zero. Oldest Son went on and on about how the band teacher, a former military guy, wants things EXACTLY how he wants them. And in my head, I thought, "I bet he just wants to shave your head."

You see, Oldest Son's hair is longer than mine. It's curly and kind of rock star-like. It falls in his eyes. It's gorgeous. I love it. I love it long, but if he wanted to cut it, that's his choice. If he wanted it blue, that's his choice. Because having parented one 18-year-old already, I decided long ago to pick my battles. They may not be the battles my kids agree with--or other parents agree with. But I pick the ones that I think matter--like being kind to each other.

And I had this moment, there in the laundry room, as he went down the stairs, his hair curling just so. That I wonder . . . if Evil Science Teacher even "sees" my kid the way I do. Perfect in his own way. Or if she sees some long-haired kid with hair in his eyes and has decided that lurking under all that hair cannot be the bright, gifted kid the tests and other teachers see.

I have no idea. She could just be an ugly human being for the sake of it. She could be burned out. It could be a lot of things. But I have a kid just PERFECT the way he IS. And I couldn't be more proud of who he is as a person. And if anyone sees his hair . . . or sees anything external and makes a judgment call, they are missing out on knowing someone great.

And I wonder . . . why we get so hung up on appearances.



The Anti-Wife said...

What a wonderful post. Obviously you love your son unconditionally. He's a very lucky young man.

Erica Orloff said...

Hi Anti-wife:
Well, he's a REALLY easy person to love unconditionally. I just wish the world was so tolerant of long hair and the things that don't matter.

conley730 said...

It's unfortunate that so many people judge another person based on their looks. I hope the evil science teacher will come to learn your son is a great person even if he doesn't have a conventional look.

Erica Orloff said...

Hi Conley:
Thank you. The weird thing is . . . I have no idea if that's it or not, but what I DO know is I am so past even noticing things like that . . . so it literally JUST dawned on me that people may not perceive him as the utterly fabulous person he is . . . just for one reason, you know?

There's this shop downtown. Has the PRETTIEST young woman working the register. She is COVERED in tattoos, has punked out hair . . . but she's gorgeous, and I said something about her glasses being so cool or something, and we got to talking, and I must have seemed "motherly" or something. So we chat and chat, and bottom line is she was saying how terrific her parents were, because, like me, they could just "see" her as beautiful despite what she likes to look like being outside the norm,