The whole she-bang predicament

Men, I’m gonna go ahead and warn you – you may not be able to relate to this.

Or maybe you will; some men do stress over this matter and perhaps a few should.

But it involves hair. Particularly, bangs or no bangs.

I decided a few months ago, I needed a change.

My rear wasn’t seeming to get any smaller (thank you, cheesecake and wine) so I decided I should change the hair style I had been sporting for a number of years.

The side part, with the long bang that was supposed to end at some point on the side of my face to give me the illusion of having cheekbones and a thinner face than what I really have.

Hey, I have one of those weird shaped faces that has been described as square, oval, completely round, and triangle.

At this point, I feel like a Bobble-head who doesn’t know how to describe my head shape other than “watermelon large.”

So I decided I needed a change and bangs would be a nice one.

They could cover my forehead wrinkles, as well as a multitude of over-plucking sins. I maybe should add I have some type of hair obsession disorder that needs its own DSM-5 classification.

Would another cut/color/style look better on me than what I currently have, and would it look good the day after I leave the salon?

Back to my latest obsession-bangs. Bangs were my style of choice as a teen into my mid-twenties, heavy and thick falling to my brow.

I had people tell me I looked like Shannen Doherty from her “Beverly Hills, 90210” days. Not a bad comparison, mind you, until you are asked if you are as horrible as Brenda Walsh.

Somewhere post-college graduation, I decided to grow the bangs out, after a horrible short bob made me realize how round my head actually is.

Then, several years ago, on my first visit to a new stylist, I told her I wanted bangs. She obliged. It never occurred to me that the barely noticeable waviness to my hair would cause my bangs to curl up when dry, making the bangs far shorter than they appeared when wet. I ended up with severely short bangs that made me look like Nancy from “Lil Abner.”

It was maybe the first time I cried over my hair.

It did not help that during a Monday morning meeting, my boss kept interrupting to ask me if I had that done to my hair on purpose, had I paid for it, and how long would it take for my hair to become normal again.

He meant it in semi-jest, but I cried again later.

It was so bad, even Mama didn’t offer her derogatory two cents she usually does about my hair.

So I swore never again would I sport bangs.

Until a few months ago. I decided they were the change I needed.

And they have been the boil on my forehead ever since.

I just knew Mama would hate them, but instead she told me I looked like Abby Scuito – all I needed was pigtails – so she was fine with my new ‘do.

I didn’t even have the righteous self-rebellion of being able to justify my choice by declaring to my mother it was my hair and I could have bangs if I wanted to.

No, for once, she stole my thunder and said my new bangs were, “absolutely adorable.”

Just how every 40-something wants to be described.

My hair obsession has been worsened by the fact I have several anti-bang factors working against me. I have a widow’s peak; I have several cowlicks; my hair has just enough curl that when it’s humid, the under layer will kink and curl through the top layer making me look like I am turning into a she-devil.

They are a commitment I was reminded of when telling my stylist maybe I should just let them grow out.

“It will take almost a year,” I was told.

And there is only so many ways you can wear in-between bangs without sticking some kind of hair clip in there that makes you look like you are 5.

Part of my hair dysmorphia now includes seeing photos of people with styles sans bangs I covet. All one length, center parts, long flowing tresses – my hair could look like that, couldn’t it?

“Oh, the problems you have,” Lamar said as I grimaced in the mirror, pulling on my bangs.

When his hair gets on his nerves, he takes his clippers and buzzes his head down to the scalp, leaving just a fine layer of fuzziness.

I just didn’t feel like I looked like myself.

To prove my point, I ran into one of Cole’s former teachers the other day and she almost didn’t recognize me.

Sure, I had a new color – I was now a deep mahogany with blonde highlights, but the bangs had completely changed my appearance. Maybe the bangs aren’t me.

I told all of this to Lamar, who said nothing. He just frowned and waited until an appropriate time to turn back to the TV.

Men may not understand or have any sympathy about this, but women probably do. The struggle of how to fix our hair, whether to cut, color or perm it. It was a never ending battle.

I wasn’t sure what to do exactly, but I was pretty sure I was going to grow out my bangs, even if it did take a year.

Just in time to cut them again.

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Nothing says new beginnings like a fresh pack of pencils (7/22/2015)

In case y’all haven’t noticed, summer is over.

I know, we just celebrated the fourth of July a few weeks ago, but the school supplies are already on the shelves.

‘Cause we know ‘summer’ is only eight weeks now instead of about three solid months like the rest of us had.

But, oh, the school supplies are so much better now. And nothing says a new beginning like a new pack of pencils.

Or a notebooks, with their fresh, clean pages.

My obsession with school supplies probably started in kindergarten. A chubby kid didn’t get a lot of attention, but if you had neat pencils and a decent sized box of Crayolas, everyone wanted to be your friend.

If you had the mega box of Crayolas – you know, the one with the sharpener – you were pretty much the boss of the class. Or, at least had other kids ask to use your sharpener.

So seeing the aisles full of crayons, markers, paper, notebooks and Elmer’s glue made my heart skip a beat.

Nothing makes me happier than school supplies. All of it. Even the little packs of those triangular erasers that somehow end up breaking when you try to erase a boo-boo.

Huge packs of different colored pens make me happy, too.

And Sharpies – I was so excited when they were available in a color besides black.

Thankfully, my child has a deep affinity for all things school supply, probably because our back-to-school shopping adventures have always been such fun.

“Mama, why are school supplies so awesome?” Cole asked, gazing at the assortment of coloring instruments.

“They just are,” I replied.

“Did you always love school supplies?” he asked.

I did.

As an only child, my summers were spent reading and surrounded by adults who couldn’t always play with me. Much like Cole’s childhood now. So seeing school supplies meant school was starting back and I would get to see my friends again.

It also meant that my Uncle Bobby would start stock-piling supplies for me at the end of August. As soon as Bi-Lo put out the bins at the front of the store, topped with filler paper, pencils and spiral notebooks, my uncle started shopping for me.

And I think that sweet man thought I needed a pack of paper and a notebook for every week of school, because I was still using some of the supplies he got me when I was in college.

But nothing said love like a brown grocery sack loaded down with No. 2 pencils, and those black composition notebooks.

Even now, those are my preferred journals but like the Sharpies, they come in a variety of colors.

One morning, at breakfast, I had announced we were supposed to have colored pencils for something in school. Bobby nodded and told me he’d take care of it.

However, I didn’t clarify if I meant colored pencils or just pretty pencils that were in a color other than that yellowish orange color we know so well.

My uncle dropped off a plastic box full of colored pencils, and several packs of the prettiest swirly-colored pencils I have ever seen. They were so pretty, I didn’t want to use them. How could I sharpen something so lovely?

I did eventually, maybe traded one or two, but I saved a few, holding onto one of those beauties long into my 20s.

“Why do we love school supplies so much?” Cole asked, his gaze set on a shelf full of markers.

Because school supplies mean a new school year, seeing old friends and making new ones.

School supplies mean a fresh start.

Even though Cole’s homeschooled now, shopping for school supplies is a ritual we continue. We don’t start with last year’s broken crayons or stubs of pencils and half used notebooks. We get new ones. We open a new folder, put the paper in and write the year and class across the front.

It is the promise that a new school holds – maybe your crush forgot when you tripped and face planted in the hall, maybe you had a growth spurt over the summer and were now the tallest in your class.

Or maybe, you got your braces off and that bad perm finally grew out.

Your best guy friend who you remembered for having boogies in his nose was suddenly the class cutie.

Lots of things could happen over summer – of course, that was when we had three full months to make our transformation – but, we always knew that summer break could cause some miraculous changes.

“Because somehow, baby, a new pack of pencils has a lot of potential.”

New beginnings, and a lot of potential.

If you see a well-dressed man, thank his mama

“Did your Daddy pick that out for you?” I asked Cole one morning as we were about to head out the door.

“Yes, ma’am,” he answered.

“Lamar!” I hollered. “He can’t wear that!”

“What’s wrong with it?” Lamar wanted to know. “It’s clean!”

“‘Clean’ is not the only prerequisite for clothing.”

Frustrated, I went to find Cole something that matched.

I try to make my child look nice and presentable – not like he is some ragamuffin who fell off a turnip truck. Just because it was Downy fresh didn’t mean it was appropriate.

“I don’t get why you worry about what he has on,” Lamar said as we headed to our destination – late, because I insisted on my child changing clothes. “He’s a little boy; folks don’t care what little boys have on.”

“I care,” I said. “And believe me. Other people notice.”

Believe me, other people definitely do. Once when Cole was around 4-years-old, Lamar took him to lunch, wearing a pair of boxer shorts and a t-shirt. While they were on their adventures, they ran into a lady Cole used to stay with. When she saw my child was out and about wearing his drawers as outer wear, she called me later to make sure I had not taken ill and needed a casserole.

Lamar has also given this child two different socks. Not just a short one and a tall one, we’re talking my child has worn one of my socks and one of his.

“No one sees what’s stuffed in a boot,” was Lamar’s reasoning.

“They sometimes have to take their shoes off in PE,” I tried explaining. “Do you want your son to be known as the one who wears ladies’ Halloween socks in February?”

Stripes with plaid.

Orange shirt with red shorts.

Inside out, backwards. As long as it was clean and covered what needed to be covered, Lamar would stick the child in it.

Sometimes, I don’t even think clean was really a priority, either.

“He wore that the other day,” I commented once, eyeing Cole’s attire as he ate breakfast.

“It’s clean,” Lamar replied.

A closer inspection revealed chocolate on the collar.

I sighed.

I think I put unrealistic fashion expectations on not just any man, but my husband.

He does not seem to worry about what he wears.

He told me once, I worry about that stuff enough for the both of us, which I don’t. I just think not looking like one dressed in the dark during an emergency evacuation is a reasonable, attainable goal.

Lamar blames me for always making us late, changing shoes, messing with my hair or finding the perfect earrings. But usually it is me trying to find my child clothes. A task that Lamar does in an effort to save me time, so I don’t have to do it. A vicious cycle.

Maybe guys are just different when it comes to clothes. You never hear men sitting around talking about whether or not low rise jeans made their muffin top worse, or if they hoped the Chevron pattern never went out because it hid their five-pound weight gain.

The only words I had ever heard my husband utter about clothes were: “This needs to be burned.”

He has cut the sleeves off long-sleeved shirts because he couldn’t find a short sleeved shirt. I didn’t notice until one evening as we were running errands, I asked what was wrong with the hem. He said nothing. He didn’t have to; he has cut up tons of his clothes. I have sworn one day, I was throwing away all of his clothes that had paint on them, or had been cut up in some Edward Scissorhands fashion.

“Then, I will just be going around naked,” he muttered.

Once my Uncle Bobby had to get my clothes ready for school. He put my chubby tater in a pair of corduroys and a striped shirt, which he forgot to take the iron off of and left the imprint on the back shoulder. I was such a train wreck, the children didn’t even make fun of me. Who puts a fat kid in vertical stripes and corduroys?

“Mama, why do you care about how we look when we go somewhere?” Cole wanted to know. “You won’t even run to the grocery store without your makeup and heels on.”

That was not true; I’ve been wearing flats here lately.

But they didn’t understand this whole “being presentable” concept.

For one thing, I don’t want us ending up on some “People of Walmart” Instagram account, with the caption: “Country come to town.”

I want my child to take pride in his appearance, which he does, but it shows that you respect yourself enough to take a few moments to pull together a simple outfit. You only get one chance to make a first impression – do you want that first impression to be you are on your way to a clown school audition?

“Baby, when you get older, you will be glad that I have taught you, this is important. On your first date, your first job interview. There will be tons of occasions you will be glad you understand it is important to look nice and care about what you are wearing.

It doesn’t have to be the trendiest, it doesn’t have to be the most expensive – just make sure it is clean, nice and looks well.”

Again, no stripes and plaids, I silently pleaded. You will give me a headache to look at it.

One day, he would get it.

And when he did, he could thank his mama.

The Epic Parenting Fail (7/8/2015)

I was tired. I was stressed. My nerves had been worn thin by being pulled in twenty different directions, or as Granny would say, seven ways from Sunday.

So my reaction was, to say the least, a bit outlandish.

Cole had spilled Gentian Violet on his khaki shorts.

His new khaki shorts. The third pair I have bought him in about as many months, because he has outgrown 7 pairs of shorts, four pairs of pants, and probably a dozen pairs of jeans.

I had told him the day before, to not wear them at home, because between three dogs and his father, there is just too much mess to get into.

I told him to put on another pair, not new ones he hadn’t even worn out yet.

My child looked at me and shrugged.

“They’re fine, Mama,” he said.

But the next day, he woke and pulled them back on, as he normally does when he has already stashed something good in his pockets.

I gave him a sideways glance and shook my head. I had told him the day before, he didn’t need to wear new stuff around the house when he was going to be rolling on the floor with the dogs.

And minutes later, Cole told me he has a bug bite.

“Where’s the bug bite stuff?” he asked.

“In the bathroom,” I answered.

Now, when I think bug bite stuff, I think Benadryl cream, witch hazel, hydrogen peroxide, Neosporin, and tea tree oil. I don’t think Gentian Violet. I can’t remember why I had bought this stuff a while back but I must have referred to an alternative health book and decided it was going to cure whatever I had. Or maybe it promised to dissolve cellulite. I have no idea.

But Cole walked up to me, hands covered in the purple liquid.

In the process of trying to clean his mess up, he had left a trail of purple from the kitchen sink to the bathroom. Apparently, he got a drink of water, too, as there was a ring of purple under a glass sitting on the counter.

My initial reaction, whenever I see something on my child I don’t understand, is to freak out and my freak outs are the screechy, Velociraptor kind. Then I realized, one whole side of his shorts were ruined.

I lost it.

I screeched.

I yelled.

I had a big Mama meltdown fit.

And it had nothing to do with the shorts.

Yes, he has outgrown his clothes so quickly, I’ve replaced his whole wardrobe three times since March.

I was mad about the fact he did not listen to me when I told him to not wear them.

I had told him, point blank, to change the day before, and he hadn’t. He hadn’t listened to me.

That’s what caused my fit.

My big, horrible, awful fit.

All my child did during my meltdown was look up at me and say, “Yes ma’am” while I had the fit.

“Do you understand why I am so mad right now?” I asked. The rubbing alcohol had not worked on the shorts and apparently, scrubbing the fibers makes it worse. Who knew? I still don’t know what the heck Gentian Violet is or used for.

He nodded.

“It’s not because you ruined your shorts,” I said. “It’s because you didn’t listen. I told you, I told you, so plainly yesterday, to not wear your brand new stuff at home because of something like this. If you had only listened to me, this wouldn’t have happened.”

He dropped his head. “I know. I am sorry, Mama.”

I felt a pang hit my heart. Was a pair of shorts worth destroying his spirit?

I sat the shorts in the sink to soak in the alcohol and decided I needed to cool off.

Why had I gotten so upset?

The only logical explanation I could come up with was because my child had not done what I told him to the day before.

It wasn’t the shorts. It was the fact I was aware of the possibility for him to mess them up, told him to take them off and he had looked at me and shrugged.

Because we all know, if it falls out of our mama’s mouths, it is just a bunch of bunk.

I was guilty of that myself. Anytime my own Mama told me to do something, I rolled my eyes, gave her a passive aggressive “whatever,” and then ignored her heeding. Shortly thereafter, I was running to Mama, begging for forgiveness and asking for help, for her to fix it.

Just like Cole ran to me when he realized the purple dye was not coming off.

And Mama, never once, yelled or lost her temper when I did.

She may have told me later how right she had been and how if I had only listened to her, I would have spared myself the pain, the mishap, the embarrassment.

But she never made me feel bad about it during the cleanup of my mess.

I looked at my monkey, quietly sitting on the couch. My heart ached for the words I had said, which couldn’t be unsaid and had been far too harsh for a 10-year-old. Probably too harsh for anyone, but especially a child.

“I need to talk to you about what happened earlier,” I began.

He looked up at me, expecting even more admonishment.

“I am so sorry for what I said. There was absolutely no reason for me to be that upset at you – it was totally unacceptable –”

“It’s okay, Mama,” he said, cutting me off. “I forgave you even while you were saying it.”

I hugged him tight.

I fail every day. That day, was more epic than others. But somehow, someway, I am evidently doing something right.

Mama’s last bastion of communication (7/1/2015)

Who ever created texting, thank you.

From the bottom of my introverted heart, I am grateful.

I truly have grown to loathe talking on the phone. Phone calls have become more of a nuisance than a form of communication for me in the recent years.

Outside of work related calls, I only talk to three people on the phone – Mama; my soul-sister and partner in crime, Sara Jean; and my sister-in-law, Karla.

Sara Jean and Karla typically use modern methods of communication, sending a text or a private message. And if they do call, I know it’s important.

If the phone rings and I don’t recognize the number, I don’t answer it. I know it is a telemarketer or a wrong number.

Since I don’t have voicemail (don’t ask me why, but I won’t check that either), I always just check the number online later. That’s when I find out it is a robo-call about switching satellite services or someone else trying to sell me something.

Mama, however, freaks out every time the phone rings.

She will call me at all hours of the day to Google a number for her, convinced who ever called her has an ulterior agenda.

“Mama, if you don’t know the number – don’t answer,” I will tell her.

She can’t do that. She has to answer. She retired from the phone company, so I guess it is ingrained in her to answer every ring-a-dingy she hears.

“What if it’s important?” she wants to know.

“They’ll call back.”

“What if they don’t?”

“Then it wasn’t important. Or they can text.”

Mama says, of course, that it may be a landline and the person may be unable to text.

“Do you ever answer your phone?”

Nope.

I don’t.

I will if she calls and I am not busy, but Mama’s preferred time to call is when I am in the middle of work, and she has an emergency. Her emergencies typically involve the aforementioned Googling of a number, or could I maybe tell her what day the “NCIS” marathon is on this week – “You can find that on the computer, can’t you?” she will ask.

Sometimes, she will text. But God forbid she sends a text and I don’t respond with lightning fast speed. She will call. And if I am not able to answer, she does the unthinkable. She sends the sheriff out to my house.

She’s done it before, and has threatened to do it again.

“Mama, you need to just get rid of your landline if you are going to have a conniption every time the phone rings and you don’t know who it is,” I said.

“I am not getting rid of my phone. Some people still believe in talking on the phone,” was her response.

Why in the world would anyone do that?

Granted, when I was younger, I loved to talk on the phone.

I ran up phone bills so high, had Mama not had to pay them, she may be living in high cotton today. I truly doubt it, she would have just blown it at the mall on something I needed like hairspray or shoes.

But now, I cringe anytime I have to talk on the phone.

Not Mama.

She is holding on to the last bastion of communication – believing the landline and talking on the phone are the way to save civilization.

“The world took a trip down the toilet when we started all this ‘LOL-ing, texting and nonsense,” she said.

Since Mama is not up to date on her emojis or her texting shorthand, she thinks the rest of the population are struggling to keep up.

“Mama, texting and technology have helped make things much simpler,” I gently reminded her.

She still doesn’t like it. I can be in the middle of a text response and she will call before I finish.

“Did you get my text?”

“I did and was replying – you don’t have to call to see if I got it.”

I could understand if she had just started texting, but she’s been texting for years. And just as long as she’s been texting, she’s been calling to see if I got her text.

She commented to me recently she needed a new phone, but expressed great ire at the only available option being a Smart phone.

“I am not using one of those things, I don’t want it. I want my flip phone, thank you very much – I am used to this and I don’t know why I have to change,” she said, exasperated when I told her what she would have to get.

“Mama, everyone else is using smart devices. You can figure it out.”

I paused to add an incentive: “You can FaceTime with Cole and get to see him.”

She thought about this for a moment before deciding it probably wouldn’t work and would result in further frustration.

“I don’t know why people can’t just use the phone the way God intended,” she said. “And I don’t know why you hate the phone so much now and act like it is such a great inconvenience.”

Because it is. Just because it rings, does not mean I have to answer it.

“A lot of what’s wrong with the world is people quit talking to one another. You get on SlapFace, and text and it’s not the same as really talking to people. And that includes talking on the phone, too, Kitten.”

Mama may have had a point. Maybe we as a collective whole did stop talking – really talking to one another at some juncture, and replaced it with emojis and “likes” instead of really giving our feedback and attention.

Maybe we should make it a point to try to communicate with one another better, make an effort to see how folks are doing, even if it means, horrors of horrors, calling someone.

People may like to know someone cares and want to share what’s going on in their life.

Besides – if it is important, I’m sure they will just text it anyway.