He was the sweetest little fellow, this tot in my daycare. Big blue eyes, porcelain complexion but for the blush of pink on his cheeks, saucy grin and impish sense of humor. Just a sweetie, all round.
And then he started coming to daycare with his hair gelled.
Now, I have nothing against hair gel, per se. We are a family of curly-headed people, my kids more than me these days, but we know from hair gel.
But I do very much have something against hair gel on a 2-year-old. I'm equally leery of toddlers sporting belly tops, 5-year-olds wearing (and caring about!) designer labels, and 7-year-olds listening to pounding rock music with questionable lyrics. And don't even get me started on the whole "tween" phenomenon.
The little boy's parents think the hair-gel thing is cute. Which, if you're going just by the appearance of the thing, it is -- this angelic-looking tot with his spiked blond hair. Oooh, scary radical, baby!
It's kind of funny to see a toddler in the trappings of a teen, because we understand the disparity between the two. In time, though, there won't be a disparity, and you'll have an 8-year-old rebellious "tween" on your hands.
If you give your toddler the characteristics of adolescence, what does that leave for him when he gets to be an actual adolescent? Mayhem, that's what.
I see it as akin to the creation of superbugs: We misused antibiotics, tossing them about too soon, too much, and now we have bacteria that are immune to most things we can throw at them.
We let our children be teeny-tiny teens, and as they grow, they become superteens, with all the worst traits of that difficult age magnified tenfold.
Why the hurry? Why not enjoy our babies while they're babies? It's such a short period. Let them be little, treat them as if they're little, with age-appropriate clothes, books, music, television, activities. Savor it. Let them grow through their stages in appropriate time. If they're not hurried, if they're allowed to get to adolescence when they should, you'll probably get to enjoy more of the positives of that tumultuous phase.
Am I making a connection between hair gel at 2 and skulls on T-shirts at 5 with rebellion and monumental disrespect at 13?
Yes. Yes, I am.