When we embark on being creative, sometimes the little parts of daily life sneak up on us in unexpected ways. Parents, for example, often find inspiration and grist for the creative mill in their progeny. Today’s guest is an author, parent, and fellow Ridan author who understands the beauty of having children around to help preserve a sense of wonder. Nathan Lowell Presents…
One of the great things about being a parent of four boys is the endless supply of material they provide. To be honest, there are days where the boundary between laughing and crying is a tenuous one. But that’s the beauty of creative writing. I can take these experiences, remember the best parts, and capture a memory forever through the lens of humor. Take, for example, a story about my fifteen-year-old son.
In his younger years, I would cut his hair. Well, “cut” makes it sound a little like I knew what I was doing. In reality, I used one of those electric clippers we had purchased from Walmart. Connect one of the three clip-on attachments, plug ‘er in, and shave away – done in five minutes. Fast and effective. Not to mention easy to manage. Wash and dry in five minutes tops.
But as the young boy grew to be a teenager, the buzz cut apparently wasn’t the acceptable fashion sported by most Minnesota teenagers. Instead they tended to go for a mop-head style referred to affectionately as “hockey hair” though to me it looked a lot like a mullet. One of the unintended benefits of such a style is its ability to mask personal hygiene… ah…mishaps.
Let me explain, my oldest boy had started shaving though not nearly frequently enough for me. Being a typical Minnesota “towhead” (note: many people mistakenly believe the phrase is “toe head” but in fact the first word is “tow” referring to the tousled mass of light yellow fiber resulting from combing out the fibers from certain plants into thread; since these pale fibers resemble human hair the term “towhead” is occasionally used to describe blond children which I honestly didn’t know until I wrote this piece – thanks wisegeek.com!), all of my son’s facial hair is very light and it takes a few days for a noticeable “Shaggy-esque” type whiskers to emerge.
On one particular morning where this was the case, I made it clear that he shave before school and that I didn’t want to come home from work to see an unshaven face. Fast forward to late that day. I’m sitting down to our family dinner and my wife says to me, “Notice anything different about your oldest son?”
I glanced down the table, and the boy stops eating and stares forward not quite avoiding my gaze but not looking at me either. The first thing that hits me is his hair is combed. This in itself is usual given his shark like tendencies he has to simply eat and sleep all day resulting in a scraggly mess of hair. But now it actually looks pretty good.
“Hair washed and combed today?” I reply.
He smiles and my wife shakes her head.
“What?” I say.
“Told you it wasn’t noticeable,” my son replies triumphantly.
My other three boys are laughing now.
“Well I noticed it right away,” my wife counters.
It’s at this point I’m starting to feel a little stupid for missing whatever it is I should be seeing. I felt a little like when those “magic eye” books came out in the early 90′s and everyone else is quickly spotting the 3D unicorn and all I get is a headache unfocusing and straining my eyes. “Just stare through the picture…look behind it…don’t focus…”
Finally she hints, “Check near his eyes.”
Given the length of his hair and the fact he has combed it down, his eyes are a bit hidden but then I see it.
They are completely gone. His brow is smooth as can be. I’ve always wondered what eyebrows were for and most experts would say to keep sweat, water and debris out of the eye. But at the moment I’m thinking their needed to look…well…normal.
“What the heck,” I mutter. “What happen to your eyebrows?”
Now the other kids are in an uproar and I get the feeling this isn’t the first time this conversation has taken place in the day.
“I had an accident,” was my boy’s guarded reply.
Shaking my head I struggle to understand this. What kind of accident results in your eyebrows disappearing?
A deep sigh later the story unfolds. “I was shaving this morning with the electric razor and stopped paying attention for a moment and nicked part of my eyebrow…”
While my son continued the story, I must stop here to tell you what was going through my mind. How does one stop paying attention when shaving? What could be so distracting that staring in the mirror with a battery operated cutting device vibrating at high speed which grabs away at little hairs pulling and cutting them clumps at a time one loses the location of said device? Even if you look away from the mirror for a moment, it is impossible not to know where it is by tactile nerve impulses alone. I imagine the elbow of his “razor arm” resting on the side of the bathroom counter while shaving and somehow it slips off and he over compensates and “bam” there goes a chunk of brow? Honestly, the truth of what really happened may never be known (I don’t what to even speculate further). What I do know is the outcome.
“So, wait a minute,” I interrupt. If you just nicked a part of the brow, how is it that both brows are entirely gone?”
Through whimpered cries of laughter, my wife explains. “He thought it would look better to shave them both off then to have one just missing a small piece.”
Why hadn’t I thought of that?
I suddenly fear a large investment in eyebrow pencils is coming and shudder at memories of my grandmother’s painted brow way up on her forehead and quickly let my oldest know in no uncertain terms will he be allowed to start drawing in his facial features.
Having set yet another new ground rule in place that I never considered I would have to verbalize, I realize that this entire experience gave new meaning to the term “brow beaten”.
P.S. From that day forward, my favorite nickname for my oldest has been “Meister ‘Brow’” – though I must admit I find it far more amusing than he does.
Todd A Fonseca is not only the father to four energetic boys but the author of The Time Cavern middle grade books where his experiences as a parental unit are fused with a creative and distracted mind offering young readers an adventure they won’t soon forget.
Learn more about Todd and his writing at The Time Cavern