“I’m sorry, Mom. I’m not backing down,” my 16-year-old son told me.

“You mean to tell me that you are directly disobeying me?”, I asked.

“Yes. I am.”

Our eyes met with a steely glare, neither of us willing to back down. “What happens now?”, I wondered. This was new territory.

It was the first time in my parenting history that one of my beloved kids refused to follow a direct order/wish/command/favor. Well, first time since DeAngelo broke his arm in math camp, was sent to ER, got medicated and told the entire ER staff that I loved to drink margaritas.

Anyway, last Saturday we had a big, fancy family wedding to attend. So big that all of my aunts, uncles and cousins would be there. My mom reminded me weeks in advance: “Do your hair and do NOT wear jeans!” Like I would really wear jeans to a wedding?? I knew we all had to look super spiffy and I was on high alert.

OK, so we are about to leave when the kids walk out into the living room wearing their dressy outfits. They looked awesome – gorgeous offspring if I might say so myself!

But I noticed one thing about DeAngelo. A horrible, unforgiveable fashion faux paux – he wore suspenders with a belt!

“Are you really worried that your pants will fall down?” I asked, kinda chuckling.

“No, I just like it this way,” he replied casually, picking a loose thread from his shoulder.

I explained to him, practically drew a diagram, as to why people wear suspenders OR a belt. Not even Urkel wears both. I asked him to choose one or the other, end of story. I was not about to be seen with a child wearing such a men’s fashion no-no.

He said “No, sorry. I like it just like this.”

!!!!! ????

Um, hello? Perhaps he didn’t realize the severity of the crime. I didn’t want him to have a Carrie “they all laughed at me!” moment. So I immediately ran to the computer and Googled “suspenders with a belt” and read aloud every entry from the experts about why this was wrong, wrong, wrong. I remember my best friend in high school making fun of this one kid who wore suspenders with a belt. I poked fun at him too. Now, years later, my own kid was sportin’ the look! See what happens? Karma!!

DeAngelo still didn’t back down.

“I’m only trying to help you…” I pleaded. “Don’t do it, baby. You’re better than this! Listen to Mama…!!!”

He went to his room and I sat on my bed dumbfounded. Patrick was at a gig, so I was on my own on this call. Was this really a big deal? I didn’t want the whole night to be ruined over something so goofy (literally).

It took my 14-year-old daughter to reason it out without the emotion of feeling dissed. She sat on the bed next to me and began her mini-lecture.

“Mom, chill. He’s 16, this is his way of being a rebel. Just think, it could be worse. He could be refusing to quit drugs or refusing to break up with a hootchie girlfriend. All he wants is to wear suspenders with a belt. Let him have it. Who cares what people at the wedding will think?”

A rebel…Hmmm..I seem to remember being 16 and putting my parents through worse things than suspenders and a belt. I made them gasp in horror by coming home from the hair salon with a crazy, spikey punk hair do. My dad chopped it off within minutes. Yeah, my mom and dad were pretty freaked at that one.

I got up, walked to DeAngelo’s room and opened the door. He sat on the edge of the bed with his hands clasped on his lap. He looked up at me with eyes filled with frustration. He didn’t mean to diss me, but he really wanted to stand firm. I could appreciate that. We’ve all been there.

“I love you,” I told him. “Wear whatever you want, it’s cool.”

He jumped up and gave me a kiss on the cheek.

“But don’t say I didn’t warn you! Suspenders and a belt are so not cool…”

He points to the TV set, where he had paused a scene from a movie. It was the ultra sexy, cool Mr. Blonde in Reservoir Dogs – wearing, um, suspenders and a belt. You can’t get much cooler than that.

Touché.


P.S. Yes, I know those suspenders are Mr Blonde’s gun holster, but for my 16-year-old aspiring filmmaker, it’s valid.

***
Author of Crafty Chica’s Art de la Soul: Glittery Ideas to Liven Up Your Life ($19.95, Rayo Books, an imprint of Harper Collins).
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