On Tuesday night, Gentry gave himself a haircut.
It's painfully evident now that, at four-years old, he's not yet developed the requisite skill to be particularly effective at giving himself a quality haircut. In fact, I have to say, it looks downright terrible.
Needless to say, we had a heart-to-heart discussion, and we've decided that he's not going to try to cut his own hair again.
But, tonight, as Shawna and I were making dinner (more Shawna than I), I asked Gentry why he cut his hair.
He ignored me. So I asked again.
"I don wanna talk about it," he said.
"No. I want to know," I said. "Tell me why you did it."
"I weally don wanna talk about it," he said.
"No, bubs: I want you to tell me."
"Well, I only did it 'cuz Lexis made me do it," he said.
I thought about it for a moment. He took the pause in conversation as an opportunity: "Do you wanna tell me 'bout youw day?" he asked.
And, of course, I had to laugh. But it also struck me as so typical. You see, we're born with a strong sense of self-preservation. Nobody has to teach us-it's natural. But, I think that sometimes it takes over, and blinds us a bit-as it did with Gentry. I'm sure that his sister didn't force him to cut his hair. I'm also fairly certain that he really doesn't care all that much about my day. He simply is trying to protect himself from what he knows WILL NOT be a "positive" conversation with dad. And so, he tries to change the subject, and he even throws his sister under the wheels of the bus in a blatant attempt to divert attention.
I think that the management of that instinctual self-preservation is, in part, what enables us to be successful. Because success is, really, a product of facing our failures, and conquering them. And that self-preservation sometimes blinds us-we're so busy trying to divert attention, or cast blame elsewhere, that we forget to face the problem, fix it, and then conquer it. And for that, we get mired down in that same failure, and fall into the same familiar pit, over and over again. I was reminded of it this weekend as Shawna and I listened to "The Total Money Makeover" that shegazelle writes about. Dave Ramsey, the author, makes a statement early on. He says that (I paraphrase) your money problems are not a product of your spouse, children, employer or friends. To see the person who really bears all the responsibility, you've got to go find a mirror.
The good thing about mirrors is that, often, in looking, you're painfully reminded of your failures-as Gentry will be for a few weeks I'm sure!