“If you like ’em…I like ’em.”


Just by seeing this image, many of you will know immediately the music video my son has repeatedly used to torment me asked me to watch with him.

“Why,” you may ask, “would a reasonable man such as yourself willingly allow his senses to be so mistreated by a loved one?!?  Don’t you know how to say, ‘No?’  Haven’t you told us, right here on your blog, that a good parent knows how to set good boundaries with his/her kids?”

Well, I appreciate your concern, and I am not waffling on my own parenting advice.  I guess I just haven’t forgotten one of my own Dad’s shining moments…

I believe I was in the fifth grade.  (My son is currently in the fourth grade, for what it’s worth.)  The year was 1985.  Think zippered parachute pants, fat high tops, ripped acid-washed jeans, jelly bracelets, and denim jackets covered with buttons bearing smiley faces, corny jokes, and bold proclamations (“You’re ugly and your mother dresses you funny!”)  Perhaps you can actually hear the Duran Duran, Cyndi Lauper, Lionel Richie, or Def Leppard in the background.  I finally got the sweet, fat Reebok high tops I had been dreaming of.  And I was eager to trick them out and get them looking their best.  Out with the standard issue laces.  In with the grid of fluorescent orange and purple laces.  Stop laughing.  How goofy did YOU look during the 80s?!

Anyway, picture these bad boys, but with the shoelaces I just described (I SO wish I had a picture of them)…


Jealous much, Heather?  Sorry, 80s flick flashback.  Where was I?  Right – Dad.

So, after tricking out my high-tops, I proudly marched into my parents’ bedroom, where my Dad was sitting on his bed reading a book or something.  “Hey, Dad,” I said with a beaming grin and a gleam in my eye.  “What do you think of my new laces?”  I will never forget my Dad’s brilliant response.  It was truly one of the best moments we ever shared.  He looked down at the outlandish gear on my feet, paused for a couple of seconds, and then slowly and seriously exclaimed in his Tennessee/Arkansas manner…

“Son…if you like ’em…I like ’em.”

What he meant was, “I can’t believe you would voluntarily make an already ugly pair of footwear look that much uglier.  You have actually done everything possible to draw attention to the fact that you clearly have no reasonable standards of fashion decency.  Wow, now I know what Bill Cosby meant when he said all children have brain damage!  But I love you, so I will smile and nod, and I will refrain from saying what I really think about this visual atrocity which obviously makes you so proud you can’t wipe the silly smile off your face.  I will even show you some supportive encouragement.  You’re my son, and I’m proud of you.  And I want you to know that more than I want you to know what I think of your present immaturity.”

And the lesson I learned was that sometimes kids get really into seriously silly or obnoxious stuff, and parents aren’t going to like it at all.  But if it isn’t harmful to them, and they really identify with it, we would do well to be supportive and recognize them identifying with their goofy stuff.

Thanks, Dad!  I don’t know if you saw me watching “What Does the Fox Say?” on YouTube with your oldest grandson in his bedroom tonight, or not.  Just wanted you to know I was thinking of you.  Thanks for the lesson.  And for what it’s worth, be thankful we didn’t have YouTube back then.  At least you didn’t have to listen to those awful shoelaces of mine.  Oh, man, I REALLY hope Shep doesn’t decide to get a flattop permed mullet in junior high!  Wait, did I just post that?…


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