Thursday, December 15, 2005

Progressive Parenting

Progressive Parenting
Katy Turnage

I would love to blame everything on my mother. I would love to say, “She never did anything right!” But despite my anger and family dysfunction, it is because of my mother, that I am the type of parent that I have become and evolve into each passing day.

Some may think that my parenting techniques are lacking analytical studies with documented results and that I let my son, Everet, get away with too much. You must know Everet to realize that he is not one of us. He is one of those rare leader, do-the-right thing types. He is amazing, but of course I think that, he's MY baby! People who meet him and then meet his father and me often wonder, How did he come from the likes of you two? The only thing I can come up with is that two negatives make a positive. Since Jeff and I became parents we have worked to give Everet the best chance possible to grow up strong and healthy and possess a sense of free will. I tell Everet everyday, Just be nice, believe what you want and don't hold it against anyone if they don’t feel the same as you do.

Everet is 10 now and this past summer he went to overnight camp for the first time. We won’t even go into what a wreck I was. I cried so hard on the way home from dropping him off, you would have thought I had just driven him to his execution. A week is a long time. It's seven days, 168 hours...

The day before he was to leave for camp (Taekwondo camp) he asked me again if he could have a crew cut. He's wanted a crew cut since he was two-years-old, but I always said no because it was the last little bit of control I had over his fashion. I hate crew cuts (they remind me of my childhood in Frayser where the mean boys had crew cuts). I said, "Everet, I'd let you have a mohawk waaaayyy before I'd let you have a crew cut.” A few hours later, I'm outside by my sister’s pool shaving my son’s head. He was doing a pretty good job being still so I could get the mohawk straight but I could feel his excitement. I don't think I have ever seen him so completely excited. He was shocked that I said ok and got the trimmers.

Before I started I gave him, the people in the world are not as open-minded and chilled as we are speech and warned him that he may get some stares or depending on where he was some comments. I don't think Everet has had one negative thing happen. When he arrived at Taekwondo camp with a Mohawk, his instructor, Mr. Miller (who I love love love, he's so good), immediately spotted him and yelled across a parking lot that he thought it was, "Cool, real cool.” A smile crept across Everet's face that is burned in my memory forever. Everet grew up right before my eyes. I saw him go from being my little baby man that I had to protect from all the big bad wolves, to my little baby man who took chances.

I figured, Sure he can have a mohawk. It’s just hair. It'll grow back if he doesnt like it. My mom and dad always let me "express" myself with my hair, clothes, and makeup. They were always supportive, and bless their hearts, it was the eighties when I was "expressing" myself. (I was a cross between Pat Benetar and Madonna with a splash of Prince). But what did surprise me through the whole mohawk thing is the reaction I got from other parents. Of course there were critics who thought I was ridiculous for letting my son cut his hair "like that," as well as the parents who envied me because I had a son that wanted a mohawk. I just wrote it off as another one of the different things the "Turnage unit" has done. I always explain it as being a progressive parent. You know, that parent who doesn't get a sitter. The one who takes her kids downtown to listen to music late on a school night because it is a learning experience too, and the "unit" spends time together. Progressive parents take chances (safe ones of course, I'm progressive, not crazy) and throw schedules to the wind and they let their son get a mohawk.

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