13 years ago today

My oldest kid enters teendom today. I cannot believe it’s been 13 years since the day he came shooting out of my wife like a slimey cannonball. How old was I? Hmm. I guess I was 25. And a wreck. The video tape shot moments after he was born is shaking all over the place because I was so nervous and excited. We lived in Enid back then. Alex has now lived in five different towns and gone to school in three school districts. I went to one grade school, one junior high and one high school, all while living in one house, so that seems odd to me.

What does Alex want for his birthday? He wants to get his left ear pierced. Why? “Because I’ll be cool!” he says. “Why will that make you cool?” I ask. “I don’t know,” he says.

He’s a good kid. He’s always been a good kid. He doesn’t help out around the house like his sister, but when it comes to being truthful and doing the right thing, I trust Alex a lot more than Sara. She knows why; she’s the one who easily gives in to peer pressure despite my constant “Be a leader, not a follower” lectures. Still, this earring thing with Alex worries me. Today he thinks an earring will make him cool. What will it be next? Smoking? Drinking? Drugs? Am I just paranoid? Or would he do those things if his friends told him he wouldn’t be cool if he refused?

I never got my ear pierced. I thought about it. Of course, my parents wouldn’t have let me when I was 13. Or 17 years, 11 months, for that matter. By the time I was 18, I didn’t care about it anymore. I don’t have any tattoos; I’ve never seen a picture I liked well enough to want to have it on my body until the flesh rots off the bone. I’ve never been drunk, don’t like beer, and the only time I got high it was an accident … I didn’t ventilate my garage properly before painting a motorcycle. I’ve seen friends ruin their lives with bad decisions that often involved alcohol and drugs, seen people racked by cancer and other smoking problems, and just never wanted any of that for myself. I know I’m weak enough to become addicted if I like something, which is why I have that accursed stationary bike in my living room now. I don’t want to see Alex having any of those problems. He already knows kids who come to class stoned. In the seventh freaking grade. They’re not his close friends, thankfully, but they are the kids who dress like him.

He wears concert T-shirts, which is kinda funny because all the bands he likes are 1980s bands me and Kim like. He wears KISS, AC/DC, Metallica, Motley Crue and Iron Maiden shirts. Ha! He’s so tall now that he’s actually wearing some of Kim’s “vintage” concert T’s. Will adding an earring to that attire be a bad thing? I don’t know. My wife thinks I’m overreacting by even thinking any of this, but peer pressure for girls is different than boys, and it’s only gotten worse since we were in school.

Alex already has self esteem issues. The last thing in the world he needs is negative peer pressure.

Here I am, wasting company time on my personal blog, listening to Marilyn Manson and wondering to anyone in cyberspace if letting my 13-year-old son get an earring will put him on a path of destruction. Perhaps I’m just a hypocrite.

Nobody told me 13 years ago being a parent would be so damn difficult.

0 responses to “13 years ago today”

  1. Hey Steve, don’t sweat the little stuff. There were kids stoned in school when I was a boy, (and I’m 46 years old), and if the worst thing your kid wants to do is get an earring, you’re laughing. I had one for a few years while I was working in a warehouse. Ladies dug it and it gave me a nice piratish air. Then I grew up and lost the earring in some woman’s bed, and the earhole grew back in and I never bothered replacing it. I’m married now, and all I have to do is rub that little irregular scar to take me back to a time when the summer juices were young and flowing. Earrings are nothing.
    Now if he starts talking lip rings, tongue piercing and other variations of oral abuse, it’s time to drag him out back behind the woodshed. If you don’t have a woodshed, get him to build one, then drag him back behind it, and whup him with a chunk of freshly chopped oak.
    It’ll build his character!

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