July 3, 2008

Bowling Ball Head

He thought his head was too big? Where did he get that idea?

My second son confided in his wife – he had known since he was a small child that his head was too big and he had always been conscious of it.

Why did he think that? For a few minutes I was completely lost for an explanation. I wanted to be angry, or offended, or something! How could he think he was less than wonderful – after the way I’d raised him?

Then I knew.

His brother, my firstborn, resembles the part of the family with a narrower profile and longer-shaped faces. Being my first, his head squeezed more easily through the never-before stretched birth canal.

But my second son was a heftier build with a rounder face and head. One of our family stories is about how quickly his birthing progressed because of his weight (gravity, I guess) and his competition with his brother. The story goes, “he needed to get here to set his brother straight”. Labor was only 2 and ½ hours!

Of my four children, he resembled the other branch of the family most, and the birthing story contains a descriptive reference to his “bowling ball” head. He may have taken that information hard (being the compassionate son that he is) because I tore a little bit as his head emerged. Now, that wasn’t because of his head – it was because I was told to push when I wasn’t ready to, and forced his head through too forcefully.

He is my thoughtful one, and he never let on that this was a concern to him – never gave me any clues – until I heard it from his wife!

Is this a lesson about watching what we say in front of our children? I don’t think so; not in this case. My children are unusually secure in how God made them, and this light-hearted story was one of those expressions of our family joy.

Then is the lesson that we should expose things that bother us – and not carry them unnecessarily? Perhaps, but my son didn’t know that his head was actually normal-sized, so he didn’t know his thinking should be set straight.

So, I won’t try to make a lesson out of it. Instead, I’ll just tell you, son, that your Grandpa (the one you’re named after) actually DOES have a large head – at least at the circumference where his hat should sit. Do you remember ever seeing him wear a hat? Not likely.

He had a fishing hat once. It was neon orange with ear flaps – and it sat atop his head too high above his ears. He could pull it down snug enough so that the wind wouldn’t blow it off while he was fishing from the dam. I’d hug him with my skinny, 12-year-old arms and tell him that his head just proved he had a superior brain.

You take after him, son.

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