Does My Hair Look Okay?

“Dad, do you think you can teach me how to use hair gel?” asks our ten-year-old son. “Sure,” says his dad. Our younger son has been experimenting with combing his hair into different patterns. It was just a matter of time before he found the right look to shellac into place for the entire school day.

You’d think our older son, a sixth grader, would have arrived here first. But bedhead and bad breath don’t really bother him. Yet. He’s focused on sports, Instagram and wearing his parents down for phone data. Hair products and mouthwash are secondary.

It isn’t any surprise that son #2 was the first to experiment with mousse and hair gel. This is the kid that was crushed when the optometrist advised us not to fill his prescription for glasses because it barely registered. We filled it the next day at Walmart with some very snazzy black-rimmed frames. This is the kid that asks weekly if he’s lost enough teeth to get braces and hopes that he too can wear headgear like his brother. This is the kid that dressed in as much orange as he could find one spring because that’s the color that the fashion-forward professional golfer Ricky Fowler wears. This is the kid that likes funky socks, flat-brimmed hats, any kind of watch and skateboard sneakers. It’s not what his friends are wearing and certainly not what his brother is wearing, but he pulls it off.

Our younger son is his own man. He picked up the trumpet three years ago because he wanted to give it a try. He has since moved on to the ukulele. He can shoot an arrow straight out of a bow and can do several yoga poses. He asks about fencing and horseback riding, which shamefully I haven’t done anything about. He knows how to play a competitive card game of pitch, loves to thatch our lawn with the ride-on tractor and can solve a Rubik’s cube in a few seconds flat.

He may be the younger brother, and while he’d fall on the sword for his older brother, he stands in no one’s shadow. This younger sibling is, in many ways, paving the way for his older brother. At the moment he has hair to style, but come June he’ll bravely shave it all off to raise money for kids with cancer. This will be his fourth year. Hair or no hair, this is one great kid.