Thursday, January 24, 2008
1 of 8 is an individual who provides us with numerous laughs and guffaws and has right from the start. She defies the 'oldest child' stereotype; she is responsible and does have a sense of leadership for the crew, but does not suffer from the angst, over-achievement and control issues that some associate with being the oldest child. Of course, I'm the oldest child in my family of origin and believe that I have also defied the stereotypes-- except for the angst, over-achievement and control issues.
1 of 8 is a poet adventurer at heart, loving travel to new locales and journaling about it all the while. She traveled to New York this past summer by herself, taking the train from Long Island into the city and met up with her daddy who was there on a business meeting. She is traveling to California in a few weeks. She has criss-crossed the country, meeting fascinating people and gathering up interesting experiences. She reads and appreciates Henry James, has an endless fascination with Hitchcock and thinks classy doesn't get any better than Audrey Hepburn. The kid is no slouch when it comes to taste and culture.
1 of 8 is also willing to take a risk--reaching out to the kid who doesn't seem to have any friends, confronting situations where someone is being mistreated and wearing striped galoshes with checkered leggings to dressy events. She is outrageous in an innocuous, fun way and has inherited her daddy's ability to make even a trip through the drive-thru a hilarious experience. You just gotta love this kid.
1 of 8 has the most glorious mane of hair ever. Thick, dark, a true chestnut brown, rigged with lots of natural curl, right out of Little Women. So, of course, she is always in the process of trying to alter it. She alternately grows it out to her waist in full Renaissance glory, only to have me wack it off to chin-length, much to the groans of her hair-envy sisters. And the new dos always look adorable on her. Her hair always grows out so quickly, it makes her fearless in her choice of styles, knowing that within a week and a half, all those follicles will have morphed into a different look yet again.
1 of 8 is in a '50's retro phase right now and it suits her well. She decided yesterday to take the look all the way and chop off her hair, pixie-like, a'la Audrey Hepburn in Sabrina. Off came layers of hair, revealing a face and attitude ready for the black and white screen. Adorable, capital A. Different, capital D. Brave, capital B. She headed off for youth group, sassy and excited.
Fast forward three hours. 1 of 8 comes through the door, subdued. This is rarely an adjective assigned to this person.
Seems that someone she has considered a friend at youth group took one look at the new style and labeled it a 'faux mullet' and that it was a good thing that the cold weather would allow 1 of 8 to wear a hat. This was all said under the moniker that 'friendship equals complete honesty'. It apparently also includes rudeness, public humiliation and making a friend the spectacle of your public stand-up routine.
I realize that political correctness has been taken too far in our culture. Touchy, touchy touchy we are, wandering around metaphors and analogies like the raw skin under a deflated blister. "Be honest," we tell the kids, "Own your opinions and don't be ashamed of them," we preach. And yet, I'm reminded that in our quest to become culturally more sensitive, and then in the quest that follows to rebalance an overzealousness in that sensitivity, we tend to hide basic lack of compassion behind 'honesty.' "I'm just being honest" becomes a self-righteous free pass to wander carelessly into the hearts of our friends and acquaintances and rearrange precious items to suit our liking. Since when did preference and opinion become 'truth'? We have allowed the definition of truth to become sloppy, a label for anything that zips through our heads and really seems to be the way we 'feel'. This sloppiness can slosh out onto the heirloom linen of another's soul, staining another's expression of individuality with the mark of our opinion. And we call it 'truth'.
It seems to me that 'truth' is a precious commodity, only to be applied to a handful of important items and concepts. Truth is exclusive, reserved in the vault for a collection of precepts that contain the blueprint of the hammocked web of words that hold our existence. God says, "I AM"--no adjectives, no adverbs. That is truth in its simplest form, its most elegant. It is holy ground, this naming of things as 'truth'. I am reminded to be fearfully frugal in what I label as such.
1 of 8 has already rallied. She has declared that she will 'rock' this look and is thankful to know that perhaps this 'truthful' friend has a different measure of what friendship looks like. It has made me grateful for the varied and amazing people in 1 of 8's life who have seen her through multiple moves, hairstyles and phases. It has made me grateful for 1 of 8's posse who find her droll humor hysterical. And it has also helped me add an item on my Friend Application: If you don't like my hair, don't tell me.