Despite the way I sometimes portray it, my kids and I really do have a strong relationship built on honesty and trust.
“Here’s the gray hair, Lexy. Can you cut it?”
She confidently grabbed the scissors and made the cut.
The one word you don’t want to hear when someone—mind you an eight year old—has scissors near your head.
“I got it.”
My heart rate returned to normal.
“But I accidentally cut a whole clump of hair.”
The horrifying thought of covering a bald spot with spray-on hair filled my head. I didn’t know whether to scream or pass out. Instead, I took a deep breath and remained calm. Trust, I told myself.
I checked for bald patches but found none.
“I knew you could do it.” Beads of sweat dripped down my face.
In addition to entrusting Lexy with keeping me looking young, she also helps me pick out clothes for work. More accurately, she makes sure her color-blind dad doesn’t dress like a complete fool.
“What do you think of this outfit, Lex?” I said holding up a purple shirt and blue pants.
“What do you mean? Blue shirt and blue pants.” I was sure I had picked a matching outfit.
“The shirt is purple.”
“Fine, I’ll change the shirt.” I said storming out of the room.
A couple of minutes later, I returned with a different shirt and what I thought was a matching tie.
I held it up proudly. Before I could ask her opinion, she intervened.
“Tie doesn’t match, Dad.”
“Damn it!” I stormed out again.
Before I embarrassed myself further, my wife made a good point.
“Why don’t you bring Lexy to your closet so she can help you pick out the outfit?”
“Don’t bring logic into this,” I murmured.
After she picked out just the right tie and removed the gray hair, my level of trust in her grew even more. Suddenly, I realized there was a myriad of additional things she could do for me. Overcome with excitement, I formulated a list in my head. She could read the small print on the back of prescriptions, help me straighten up when my back locks up in the morning, clip my nose hairs, file down my bunions, trim my unwieldy armpit hairs, etc, etc.
But before I became too giddy, the realization that I still had a five-year-old brought me crashing back to earth.
“I can do it, Dad,” is CJ’s favorite phrase, which is code for I can spill it, break it, damage it, etc. Being five, I hardly can blame him for it. But despite my wife’s pleas, it’s still hard to trust him.
“Give him a chance. I trust you, don’t I?”
She then reminded me how many times I dropped food, spilled drinks, tripped over chairs and tables, and injured the kids—all in the last week.
A few days later, I remembered the conversation with my wife as my son offered to make me breakfast. If I really did want a relationship based on trust, I had to give him a chance.
“Dad, I’ll butter your bagel.” He started to climb up to where the steak knives were and I quickly stepped in.
“Try the butter knife.” I handed it to him and he buttered the bagel without incident.
“I’ll pour your juice.”
He picked up the filled, heavy glass pitcher and proceeded to pour. I stood by him nervously as his hands shook.
He steadied himself, spilled a little but filled the glass successfully. So far so good.
He pulled out a tray from the closet and placed the juice and bagel on it. “Put your coffee here and I’ll carry it to the living room for you, Dad.”
I pictured the whole tray falling and the aftermath. “I don’t think so; maybe next time.” Trust be damned.
Baby steps, I told myself. Baby Steps.
Copyright © 2010, Brad Manzo