Wednesday, February 09, 2011

Early Baldness

I'm in an email fight with the high school swim coach.
She sent a message yesterday about preparation for the Sectional swim meet this Saturday. For boys, "On your head, hair must be completely off."
That's right. Bald.
Tucker has been fretting about this all season. He does not want to be bald.
He's 14. He's the fastest swimmer they have on the team. He can put on a swim cap -- like Michael Phelps did.
My arguments have run the gamut.
*The girls don't have to shave their heads.
*This is high school, not world-class competition.
*The world record holders are not bald.
She responded that this is a bonding experience for the boys.
I gently explained that bonding happens when people decide to do things that bring them closer together.
Bondage is when they are forced to do things.

As a freshman, Tucker has made many concessions, beginning with the tiny Speedo swimsuit. Previously, he always wore a knee-length suit. A 14-year-old does not want to put his junk on display. At 17 or 18, he may be happy, even eager, to wear a tiny Speedo. He might also joyously shave his head, first into a mohawk one week then bald the following week.
But 14-year-old boys are a little more fragile than 17-year-old boys. They worry about what people say.
Now Tucker is worried that the boys on the swim team will be mad if he doesn't shave and the kids at the high school will make fun of him if he does shave.
Ah, a teenage dilemma.
I, of course, get no credit for the things I didn't say to the coach, like, I wonder if the athletic director would support this mandate... followed by a pregnant pause while the swim coach realized I was threatening to report her.
To me, the annoying thing is that we have to fight about something that might improve Tucker's time by 1000th of a second. Work on his technique, not his hair length.
As I was writing this post, the swim coach called to talk. I still resisted threatening, although she thought my choice of the word "hazing" was a little strong.
I apologized for that.
In the end, she agreed to let the boys cut their hair very short and wear two swim caps if they do not want to join the team camaraderie.
Tucker doesn't know I fought this battle for him and he wouldn't thank me if he did. As a matter of fact, he might decide to shave his head in the spirit of the moment, but I'll know that he chose that for himself.


Lucia said...

who is the kid in the picture???

Linda said...

Wow that's a tough one. Hope it all works out ok for him. Tough choice for him.

Grace said...

The bald kid was a boy in my class. The other was Tucker. Also, I can give firsthand testimonial that maybe 1% of the boys actually want to shave their heads. Tears have been shed over it.

Sheila said...

That's ridiculous. Too bad Tucker can't just say OK then I won't swim. Forced camaraderie, hmm, how's that working out??

Paulita said...

Lucia, Sorry I didn't identify the kid. His name is Chase and he graduated last year. The look on his face kind of sums up how I think Tucker feels about shaving his head. I just wanted to include a picture of a bald kid.

Stephanie said...

Don't do it Tucker!

Linda said...

I hate being forced to do something I don't want to do. This couch sounds a too controlling to me. Hope your talk did some good.

Just Me said...

Yikes. Messy. You describe it all so well. There are unwritten consequences no matter what action you take or took and Tucker too.

No way seems pretty - although a little more happy-wisdom from the coach and it would not have been a situation to begin with.

As far as the bald head, should he decide to go that way, I bet he'll be like Dream Girl, even more beautiful with out hair - how can that be possible.

Bill Olsen said...

"fragile" at age 14?? Momism has taken over our culture. Soon we'll be France.. ugh.

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