Last night Hubby and I told our teen that he needs to get a haircut, probably next week.
He erupted. It was insane. He was defiant – “I’m not cutting it, I don’t care what you say, it’s not happening.” He tried bargaining – “I promise if a teacher tells me I have to cut it I will then.” He yelled and screamed, and then stormed off to his bedroom. “You guys are retards!”
Then we had our family meeting, which we usually have on Sunday nights, but didn’t this week so it was last night instead. He sat with his face in his hands, crying through most of it. When we got to the part where we talk through any personal issues we’re having, he finally looked up and said he wanted to talk about his hair. “Everyone will laugh at me and say I look like a retard” he said. He gave us the lowdown on how it works at high school. Someone gets a haircut. Everyone (including him) laughs at them and makes fun because they look different. This goes on for several days.
I’m sitting there listening, calmed down now from the arguments that followed his initial reaction to the Haircut Proposal, and just ready to give my son the full attention he needs so he can explain the horror that is his fate if we cut his precious hair. And it doesn’t sound all that bad to me. So a few kids laugh at you for a few days. You laugh with them, right? Or you turn it around and ask “haven’t you ever had a haircut before? Make them feel silly for laughing at pretty much nothing. Right? No big deal...
But it is a big deal. Because he’s sitting there talking about it with tears streaming down his face. It’s a very big deal to him. And that’s a big deal to me.
What has happened to his confidence? Why is he so afraid of being made fun of and laughed at? He used to be the type of kid who would thrive on the attention and enjoy the chance to laugh at himself. I always thought of him as outgoing and confident, but this boy, crying at the mere thought of turning up at school with his hair shorter, is not the picture of healthy self-esteem I had in my mind. I’m so surprised and bothered by this. At first I thought he was resisting the haircut idea because of vanity. Sounds awful, but I thought he was just being a bit of a poser. It never for a second crossed my mind that he just didn’t have the confidence to deal with a little bit of sarcastic ridicule from some kids at school. What has happened to my “try-anything-once” fun-loving guy? Have I not been building him up enough? And what else does he refuse to try because he doesn’t have the confidence?
He’s getting a haircut. He needs one, badly. A few kids laughing at him aren’t going to be the end of the world, so he’s getting one. But my eyes are opened. My boy needs a boost. I need to pray for him, praise him more, build him back up to the confident guy he was, the guy he pretends to be. I’m aware now. I’ve heard him. He asked to keep his hair long, and I’ve heard what the real issue is, behind the anger, behind the appearance of vanity, behind even the childlike explanation he gives to explain his need.
And it makes me wonder...how often, when I ask God for something, does he hear behind it all what my real issue is? How many times, when I think my prayers are unanswered, has he actually provided for a different need that I didn’t know I had – that He’d identified through my frustrated tears and childlike explanation of my needs and desires? Because if I do it for my child, then so must He.