Being the only girl-type-person in my household, I sometimes have the opportunity to impart a bit of insight into the deep and intricate mysteries of the female mind. For example: since I usually keep my hair pretty long, I've gotten used to the fact that no one ever says anything when I get it trimmed. (I'm talking friends, family, co-workers...no one seems to notice...what's up with that?) So today, for the first time EVER, Derek came in after school, did a double take, and said, "Hey, did you get your hair cut?" After I recovered from the shock, I replied that I had indeed visited the salon today and gotten several inches chopped off.
Then I waited. And waited some more, staring intently at him with what I'm sure was an anticipatory and prompting expression. He gazed back, seemingly aware that I required some input from him, but utterly flummoxed as to what this could possibly be. Finally I sighed when I realized that I would need to embark upon a valuable Life Lesson with my clueless teenager. After first praising him for at least recognizing that I looked different, I instructed him that the post-haircut conversation should always go like this: "Did you get your hair cut?" (Conversational partner answers in the affirmative.) Immediately--and I mean without even a tiny pause--one must follow up with one of these options 1) a sincere "I like it!" or 2) an enthusiastic "It looks nice!" Either one is acceptable...and also an entirely expected social nicety. (Actually I clarified, here--one need not follow these guidelines when speaking with a fellow dude...only with the...um..."fairer-and-more-sensitive-sex"...)
Of course, as a practical-minded male, he had to ask, "But what if it looks horrible?" (In case you were wondering, yes, in fact he DOES get his overwhelming store of tact from his father....) "Well, then you don't mention it at all, and pretend nothing has changed." I thought this was enough for him to absorb in one session. I didn't even bother to get into the complexities involved with using supportive phrases like "Don't worry, it'll grow out" or "I'm sure it's just the way they styled it, and it'll look great tomorrow!" These are clearly more advanced topics for another time. Next, perhaps we'll tackle the minefield discussion known as "Do these jeans make my butt look fat?" Ah, my (not-so) little grasshopper has sooooo much to learn...do you think he's ready to practice in the wilds...of Middle School?