By Paul Koch –
Today is haircut day for my son. Now, usually, I just break out the clippers and cut his hair myself; but I have to tell you, there is great joy in taking him to my barber and having his hair done right, by a man that knows what he is doing. Just about now, it’s time to drive down to the barbershop where the language is a little foul and people are just as content to sit around and join the conversation, as they are actually getting their hair cut. There is a beauty to the barbershop that I can’t quite describe and I love that I get to experience it with my son.
The barber sets him up on the booster seat; other than that one piece of furniture, he is treated like any other man in the joint. Now, being only 4 years old, it is a lot of work for Titus to sit still for that long. He manages quite well as he is engulfed in adult conversation, either being the butt of the jokes or being asked to help make fun of the guys cutting hair next to him. It’s good for him to experience this, to soak in the atmosphere, even if he is just thinking about the ice cream I promised him afterwards.
As I look at my son, I am filled with pride and hopefulness. I might well fear for a boy growing up in a world that has embraced the role of men as narcissistic metrosexuals or overly trendy hipsters. But I don’t. Much of what passes for manhood these days holds no sway over the character of a true man, and the shaping of that character lies not in the whims of a consumerist society but actions and words of his father.
I have 5 children and my son is the youngest. That’s right, he has 4 older sisters! While he has certainly learned how to use them and their motherly instincts to his advantage, he has also learned about restraint and patience. He has learned that you can’t hit a girl, no matter how much they might deserve it. He has learned the importance of holding open the door to the ladies of the house before entering himself. He has watched me love and care for his mother and all of his sisters; while I have certainly made many mistakes, he is still learning to be a man.
You see, I believe that I am the single biggest influence upon my son’s life. The man he will become, his character and resolve, will be a byproduct of my own character: my own interactions with those around us, my own treatment of those who need caring for, who need welcome, who need forgiveness.
I’m saying that I expect my son to be a man of integrity and resolve. I expect him to interact with this world and hold his own. I expect him to treat his future wife with honor and respect. And as silly as it may sound, sometimes that begins with a trip to the barbershop to practice the things of manhood and to come home with our heads held high and our bellies full of ice cream!