We went to a church party just before mother’s day. Volunteers from the church provided childcare, and everyone brought a dish. It was a way for those of us with young child to get a mothers day date in.
All the kids were in a different room at the church, and after the meal, Kerry, one of the volunteers who helped watch the kids approached me and said, “Tristan was very popular today.” She mentioned that he had a large group of kids crowded around him, watching him make bracelets. And as I looked around the building, it seemed like the majority of the kids had a one of Tristan’s bracelets on their wrists.
I was helping clean up the church, when a mother from our congregation approached me. She mentioned that Tristan had made her daughter some earrings. And my response was, “I didn’t know he could make earrings.”
She mentioned that he could, and the he gave some to her daughter, Samantha. She was a short, dimpled, brown haired, and brown eyed, little girl. Tristan and Samantha went to school and church together.
Samantha’s mother mentioned that they had a rule in their home. No long dangly earrings. Which I can understand. Samantha held up the earrings, and indeed, they were long braided pink earrings with a dark pink bead on the end.
I could see in Samantha’s eyes that she really wanted to keep these earrings. Samantha’s mother and I chatted about the situation, and it turns out the Samantha had just got her ears pierced a few days ago, and they had put rules into place.
Obviously, Tristan had created a difficult situation for this little girl. But at the same time, I couldn’t help but be proud of the little guy. Making Samantha some earrings was really charming.
In fact, the more I thought about it, the more I wished I could make earrings for Mel. Something like that would surely result in a little loving.
Or perhaps a lot of loving.
Samantha held the earrings tightly in her hand. And as I chatted with her mother, she approached her father about the situation. Obviously she was pleading to both parents.
I walked over to Samantha, crouched down, and said, “It sounds like those earrings might not be the best for you.”
She held the tighter in her fist as I spoke.
“But I’ll tell you what. If you give them to me, I will take them back to Tristan and have him make you one of his new monster tail bracelets. Have you seen them yet?”
Samantha shook her head.
“They are really amazing. He’s really good at making them. Blows me away ever time I see one. What do you think?”
Samantha smiled and handed be the earrings.
Later that night, I approached Tristan at the table. He was in his Angry Birds pajamas bottoms and a Transformer T-shirt. I handed him the earrings, and he looked at me with real disappointment, the kind of face I assume a man might get when a woman hands back an engagement ring.
“Check it out, Tristan. Samantha can’t have long earrings like these. Her parents have a rule in their house about them, and we need to respect that.”
Tristan asked about the rule, and I did my best to explain it to him. I’m not sure if he completely understood, but after a few questions, he started to accept it.
“But check it out, Samantha was really bummed out about not being able to keep the earing. I think she really liked them.”
“I told Samantha that you would make her one of your monster tail bracelets instead of the earrings, and she really liked that idea. I hope you don’t mind making one for her.”
Tristan didn’t say no or yes. He didn’t blush or get angry. He simply stood up, ran down the hall to his room, and came back to the kitchen with his loom kit. He sat down at the table and started working on the monster tail for Samantha.
“Those earrings are really cool,” I said.
“Yup.” Tristan, said. Then he gave me a sly smile and said, “girls like earrings.”
And in that moment, I thought about how Tristan had made a culture change at school, and in our neighbor hood. I thought about the fact that I’d never even give Mel a pair of earrings, and we’d been married ten years. I watched Tristan carefully pull out pink and purple rubber bands, colors he thought Samantha would like, and I realized that Tristan understood things that I didn’t at his age. He might even understand things that I don’t at age 31.
He is going to do just fine in high school.
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Clint Edwards was blessed with a charming and spitfire wife, a video game obsessed little boy, and a snarky little girl in a Cinderella play dress. When Clint was 9-years-old his father left. With no example of fatherhood, he had to learn how to be a father and husband through trial and error. His essays on parenting and marriage have been featured in New York Times Motherlode, Huffington Post Parents, Huffington Post Weddings, and The Good Men Project. He lives in Oregon. Follow him on Facebook and Twitter.
Photo by Lucinda Higley