shoe shineI don’t know about y’all, but we’re a bit sad our Christmas break is quickly barreling to an end. The end of the break signals Spring Semester … the longest part of the school year. (Have I mentioned we’re Summer People?!) Since the kids are so thrilled about heading back, I decided to pile on the excitement with a trip to the barber shop.

Two of my boys begrudgingly jumped into the chairs and endured their lock lightening. “Above the ears” was my only request. FHA never minds getting his hair cut. He’s still motivated by the basket full of Dum Dum lollipops at his disposal upon check-out.

While the girls and I were waiting I decided begin the search through the basket to find him a few favorites. That’s when I started up a conversation with Mr. S, the barber shop’s shoe shine man, who happened to be standing by the register.

“My little one sure does love your candy.”

“Don’t know if we got no more them blue raspberry. Them’s the favorites for sure.” Mr. S replies.

“Yeah … those are his favorites.” I add, digging through the stack in pursuit of a Jack reward.

“He sho doin’ good over there.” Mr. S said while looking Jack’s way. “..Growing up to be a fine young man.”

Most of the staff knows our family. We’ve been coming to the same barber shop since TTO was a toddler. These poor folks have seen it all from my boys alone. Fear, excitement, tears, anger … all around a hair-cut. Since there are so many of us, I rarely have the opportunity to hover and insure any semblance of propriety. No. I pretty much send the boys to the designated chair with their emotions on their sleeves. We’ve had LOTS of teaching opportunities surrounding the barber shop.

Today, I was the one who was blessed by a lesson.

As Mr. S and I rummaged through the basket, he kept talking.

“They grow up fast.”

“How many kids do you have?” I ask.

“Oh. I’ve got three. They grown. 28, 25 and 23.”

“Do they live here?”

“They sure do,” he smiled. “Yeah… it goes fast. There times when you don’t think it goes fast, but does. … I’s shinin some shoes not long ago for one of our regular customers when she started tellin’ me ’bout one o’ her boys. Sixteen. Given her a time.”

I give him a knowing nod. Teen tough stuff.

“I told her not to worry. You just got to get through. They’s testing their wings. It’s a phase you get through and they come back. … But you can’t let them run the show. My boys… they fine men. The two older ones gave me no trouble. But that last one … ooohhh… he pushed me. One day when I got on him to take out the trash – that was his job, takin’ out the trash – he pushed back. Then he gave me a look. I knowed that look. It was the look of a man – a boy deciding he was going to be the man in charge. I’s not gonna have nothin’ to do with that look.  I made him take out that trash then sent him to his room… After ’bout thirty minutes I went in and we had a little talkin’. He ain’t never looked at me that way again. No. These kids they go through their phases… but they need to know they place. That’s how it all works out. That boy – he needed to know his place. He answer to me … and to God.”

“You’re so right.” I replied as I considered what he was saying.

“Yeah … these older kids – they’s just like the little ones. They’s need boundaries. They’s need to know the right and the wrong. They want dark lines. They don’t always know they’s want them… but they do. Heck – everyone does. I’m so glad God draws dark lines for me. I’m always thankful and happy he directs my path.”

He continued, “Yeah… I ain’t got no property or nothin’ to leave my kids. The only thing I got to pass on to them is faith. Faith in God … in His Truth. That’s all that matter.”

Mr. S is right. It’s not about leaving them “things” but leaving them a legacy of faith. The phases will come and go, but God’s Truth lasts forever. He’s right too about the boundaries. It’s hard to to stay on top of them… to keep them drawn and dark… but boy do we need to. Because again, the phases come and go. How we parent during them determines a lot.

Meaningful words from a very wise man. Nothing like a good life lesson while digging through the candy basket at the barber shop. You just never know.

Thanks for walking the road with me.


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