Wednesday, May 9, 2018

Googling "Long Hairstyles for Boys"

Before his haircut

It took a long search online to find a photo that would convince my six-year-old son to trim his hair. His last cut was nearly a year ago, and after it he was adamant about letting it grow long. "I want to have to do this!" he said, sweeping his imaginary hair out of his eyes. So it grew and grew, and even though it was often a bit shaggy, I liked it.

My mom taught me to like men with longer hair. She grew up with The Beatles, and her taste in men's hairstyles grew with them. She loved John Lennon (not just for his hair, but it was a plus), and I remember her watching tennis just because Bjorn Borg was playing.

Now when I see men with longer hair, I can't help but feel sentimental toward them. They seem more sensitive, more artsy, more they are friends of Mom.

My son did finally trim his hair, but as we walked out of the salon he told me it would be another year before his next cut. And that is fine with me.

Tuesday, February 27, 2018

Too Headstrong

I suffer from a condition that plagues many women: The Curse of the Confident Woman. It hits us when we are young girls, when we are young and confident, and its effect determines whether or not the girl's confidence will grow or if it will be squelched.

I believe that all children inherently believe in themselves at first. It is the outside world that teaches them otherwise. But the moment when girls begin to lose that belief happens around age 8 or 9. This is the time when they find their voice, when they aren't afraid to speak out about every little thing they are thinking and feeling.

I never realized this until I was at my Grandma's house one day as an adult, and she played a recording on a cassette tape of me when I was that age. I was loudly singing "Love Will Keep Us Together," and in between choruses I talked loudly and confidently about how great girls are and how much we know.

And while I listened to this, I realized I was embarrassed. My family sat around, patiently listening, amused. But I felt embarrassed by the loud, confident, 9ish-year old me.

And that was crazy! Why should I feel embarrassed? I was loud and confident. What I was feeling was the exact thing that probably squelched my enthusiasm and confidence not long after that recording. I'm sure I was taught by society that girls should be more demure and modest.

Although I may have learned not to shout my virtues, I must have retained a bit of my bravado. I learned this when it came to relationships. When I was in high school, a boy never asked me to the prom for any of my four years of high school. In fact, most boys didn't act interested in me at all (partly due to my extreme lack of confidence with boys, but that's another story). When I was a Senior, I lamented this fact to my Senior English teacher, our beloved Mrs. U, and she told me, "Well, it's because you're too bossy."

Hmmm. Too bossy? I remember I didn't like hearing that I was bossy, but at least it gave me a reason.

Then in college there was a boy I liked. He was a music major and looked like Michael J. Fox, and he and I would spent hours in the music lab while he played albums for me that he liked. We had so much fun together. When my friend told him that I was interested in him, his response to her was, "She's too headstrong."

Hmmm. Too headstrong? Bossy I could take, but headstrong? Suddenly, I didn't see him in such a favorable light.

The recent awakening of the women's movement has brought back all these memories. For too long, women's opinions and confidence has been squelched. (Yes, I like using that word.) Finally, with the momentum of the women around me, I can state to the men in my life that I will no longer listen to jokes with women as the punchline. No, I will not watch The Godfather, because the chauvinism in it has always made me sick. I will stand up to the behavior that is finally being acknowledged as unacceptable.

So, call me opinionated. Call me strong. Call me bossy. And headstrong. It's no longer an insult.

Tuesday, January 9, 2018

Are You Here, or Present?

Me in Kindergarten

Whenever I hear a teacher call the roll, I am always taken back to Kindergarten, when Mrs. Schmucker told us that when she called our names, we could answer, "Here" or if we liked, "Present." But as a five-year-old, I didn't know what present meant. I always pictured a gift wrapped in colored paper with a big bow on top. But that didn't make sense, so instead, saying Present was exotic.

Most kids answered "Here," as did I. But a few brazenly answered "Present." Those kids were pretentious. Why couldn't they just say "Here" like the rest of us regular kids?

Looking back on my attitude about those kids, I realize that I spent way too much of my life only saying "Here" instead of joining the bold kids in their confidence.

Midwesterners are taught not to brag...not to act "too big for your britches." You shouldn't imply that you're better than anyone else.

So, I have always found it difficult to toot my own horn. Job interviews and networking, in which I am supposed to do just that, are hard. It is so hard to ask friends or anyone for connections that could help me feels cheesy and fake to do that. I sure wish I had learned at an early age how to play the game. I don't want to merely be "Here." I want to be present!