|Jinny has been very ill and is currently undergoing rehabilitation so she will not be writing her article for awhile. She is making excellent progress and hopes to be able to return to writing her column in the near future... Adele.
Being a teenager is so hard. I'm currently raising my third and he is having as bad a time of the whole business as his brother and sister ever did. Being teenager is like being temporarily insane; a creature of chemical induced madness and terror. Teenagers are the lab rats of life.
In the main, Chuck is fairly practical and grounded for his age. He doesn't think that he will grow up to be a rock idol, or an NBA star, or the next Bill Gates. He doesn't care particularly about being incredibly cool or popular. He sees himself as essentially odd and not in sync with most of his peers. This doesn't appear to bother him much, primarily because he doesn't view most of his peers as the best role models around, and partly because he guards his individuality like a Rotweiller. Peer pressure isn't his problem.
Until now Chuck has not seemed terribly interested in his looks, wearing whatever I buy him for clothes and wanting a haircut that requires no maintenance whatsoever. That is changing. He asked me the other day if he could get contact lenses to replace his glasses. This surprised me since he has never expressed any negative feelings about wearing glasses. And suddenly, he cares about his hair. Chuck has beautiful, thick, luxurious, glossy hair that any woman would kill for. My brother says that Chuck's hair is actually more like a pelt than human hair. He has so much hair that stylists have always claimed that it took twice as long as normal to cut it. It seems to grow back as fast as you sheer it off. Chuck has hair worthy of a romantic Byronic hero.
This glorious abundance of hair is perfect for a style recently made popular by the latest teen movie idol whose tousled bed-head look is all the rage. Chuck's hair achieves the look with ease and he has me style it accordingly every morning now. He was obviously a little embarrassed when he first asked me if I could do it. He seemed to think that I would either scoff or be horrified by his desire to actually style his hair. I wasn't. I told him that there was a big difference between grooming and primping, and although I might be somewhat concerned if he borrowed my clay facial mask or my hot rollers, I had no problem with hair styling.
When we styled his hair the first time I told him that he looked just as good as that guy in the movie. He rolled his eyes to the ceiling.
“Are you kidding me, Mom? Have you seen that guy?”
I told him that I had seen pictures of the actor and he was, indeed, very handsome but so was he. My son found this statement so ridiculous that he laughed out loud.
“What?” I asked. “He has great hair, you have great hair. He has busy eyebrows, you have bushy eyebrows.”
“Yeah, except his hair has artful highlights and mine is dark. And his eyebrows look like they were painted on by Michelangelo and mine look like two hairy caterpillars crawling across my forehead.”
I told him that I thought that he was being rather hard on himself. After all, the actor had makeup artists and Chuck only had me.
“Mom,” he said with exasperation, “I'm pretty sure that guy has never even had a pimple in his entire life.”
“Oh, I'm sure he had an ugly stage,” I replied.
“Oh, right,” sneered Chuck. “I bet his ugly stage lasted about 10 minutes. By the time he got out of bed and made it out the front door it had probably evolved to another stage of insane handsomeness.”
It's pointless to argue these points with teenagers. They are convinced that they are hideous and no amount of assurances to the contrary can change it, especially coming from a parent who is perfectly willing to lie about anything to make their kid feel better about himself. Thanks to the media our young people are presented with standards of beauty so impossible to achieve that models and movie stars can't even achieve them without a healthy dose of cosmetic surgery and Photoshop. It is a wretched thing to do to the young, present them with unachievable standards with no basis in reality that make them feel so completely inadequate in a time when they doubt themselves in every possible way. We are cruel to our young and it makes them cruel to each other. True success is achieving an acceptance and appreciation for oneself in all ways. All I can do is hope that someday Chuck reaches a point when he can see himself as greater than the sum of his parts. That is something that no amount of surgery, botox, or computer magic can help make happen.