From time to time, I’ll grow a beard. It’s not a fabulous beard, because it’s sort of sparse and slow-growing. Given a couple of months to come in, it begins to look okay. Before that, I tend to look unkempt, and perhaps also unclean. I was moved by interia and malaise to let my face go to beard back in January sometime.
My daughters liked the burgeoning beard. They told me I was handsome with a beard. I liked that. On the other hand, my wife was more measured with her praise of the new growth. I think the way she said it was "well, it’s your face … <wistful sigh>".
Outside of the household, reviews were also mixed. I was told I looked "distinguished", intellectual, and also unkempt. My response to the "intellectual" comment was "thanks – I needed a boost in that department, and thought that a beard would be just the thing". Otherwise I didn’t much care. After all, it’s my face, and I will fill its canvas as I please.
Or so I thought.
Each week, out of curiosity, I would take a poll at home to see whether the beard’s approval rate trended up or down. It more or less peaked early, and remained static. The usual poll was 2 in favor, 1 against, 1 abstention (that was me). My daughters continued to like it. My wife continued her quiet, but palpable disapproval.
Eventually, I grew impatient with the beard. I didn’t care for it as much, and was also taken aback by the fresh crop of grey at the low end of my muzzle. A salt-and-pepper quality to the beard was not my intended image. That meant I was getting old, and trending to even less cool than usual status (if that’s even possible).
Finally one evening I was ready to shave. I called my youngest daughter to enlist her help, as she seemed to be the biggest of the "beard-boosting" crowd. It would be important to get her on board with any beard plans I had. She balked initially (and loudly), but relented when I agreed to shave off half and surprise the rest of the family with that. Ha ha. Having seen that before, the other two were not terribly interested, but the young one was amused.
Having had her fun with it, young daughter returned to her usual five-year old pursuits. When I called her in to help me shave the other half, no response registered. I commenced shaving the remainder off.
When finished I kissed my wife with my newly-unfurry face and (beaming) – went to show the girls. The older daughter was nonplussed, and she is with many things (being nine). On the other hand, the younger was very angry with me. She had apparently thought it appropriate for me to go around for several days with my half-shaved-face look. There was much disappointment that this was not to be. She went to bed seething, and refused to allow me to read a bedtime story to her.
She was still mad the next morning too, expressing the opinion that my face looked "stupid" and that she didn’t want to speak with me.
It was then that I realized my biggest mistake. No – it was not inspiring more of a healthy fear into my kids with threat of corporal punishment for critical feedback of my face. It was allowing her to think that she gets to decide how my face looks. For example, imagine her disappointment with me as I become increasingly grey and puckered via the normal aging process.
In any case, the youngest one and I are again on good terms. Time, patience, and hot chocolate apparently heal wounds like this.