Hobo month has claimed it’s first victim. Sadly, it’s my hair.
Let me just note that I have a lot of hair. A LOT. Summers, once the humidity hits, it doesn’t need to be trimmed as much as subdued. And it’s been raining here. Raining A LOT. But haircuts aren’t happening until next month. Which is okay. I haven’t cared much and didn’t really think about it until the other night. That evening we hosted a dinner party and two of the guests were a couple that we hadn’t met before. Everything went well– dare I say swimmingly. I was cleaning up afterwards and smiling to myself, until I happened to catch a look at my hair. Good lord. It was the size and shape of a basketball. Really, really, grotesquely large. And round– holy smokes, was it round! In an instant, I could imagine the conversation that must have taken place between our friends and this new couple on the way home.
Our friends: “That was fun. Did you have a good time?”
New couple: “Yes. Tell us…how long has Lanie been a circus clown?”
Crud. Apparently vanity goes on the luxury list. Which is probably one of those “good for me” life lessons that I hate so very much. If I were trying to learn something from this experience (which I’m not) I could probably ruminate on how much money we spend because of our pride. As if it’s somehow better to buy something we can’t afford than to make the decision to go without. Saying, “We just don’t have the money” somehow makes us feel ashamed and impoverished, instead of in control and damn smart, which it should. I know that we go to great lengths when talking with our kids to use language that doesn’t suggest a lack of money, but talks about options, as in “It’s not that we couldn’t buy you a pony, we CHOOSE not to buy you a pony.” When in reality, they aren’t getting so much as a goldfish right now. We do this because we don’t want them to feel deprived compared to their friends. Maybe this is wrong. Maybe we should be saying, “Look, I know you love it, you want it, but we can’t afford it and we will not charge it…Because mommy and daddy like living indoors and not in the car, that’s why.” It would certainly be a much clearer lesson. (Alternatively, we could encourage only friendships where the parents earn a whole lot less than us, making us seen downright rich in comparison. But those parents rarely have the good booze.)
Lately, I’ve been changing the refrain to “We have enough for everything we need, but not everything that we want.” I think it’s important for them to learn to be content with less and consciously think about the things we all acquire. I suppose it would be a whole lot more efficient, too, if I wasn’t complaining every five minutes about the things that I don’t have. Most noticeably a decent kitchen. (defined here as “One where all the drawers open, where the pipes don’t freeze and which contains both a full size refrigerator and a dishwasher.” Not that I’ve given the matter much thought.) I suppose that would make the greatest impact, in fact. I have a sneaking hunch that all those people who have uttered the phrase “We didn’t have much, but we were happy.” also didn’t have a mother who wept whenever the Ikea Kitchens catalog arrived in the mail.
So that’s it, then. Once again it comes down to me, changing my behavior. Dang blast it. I tell you what, life’s lessons would be a whole lot more welcome if they mostly concerned other people and what they needed to change. Stupid life lessons.