Oh Jeez, She’s Ranting Again…

Last fall I wrote about how we were going to homeschool our oldest for 10th grade. We did, and we learned a lot. Mostly that we are sooooo not home schoolers. In fact, we hate homeschooling. Yes, “hate” is a strong word. So after just one semester, we threw in the towel. Thank God!

Stephen and I were high-fiving as we walked out the door to re-enroll him in school. He went back to the private Christian school he has attended for the last couple of years, where he’s got a great group of friends and some pretty amazing teachers, too. They were happy to have him back, and I was happy to send him. It was an all around win.

On Friday, they offered parent/teacher conferences, and even though we were only two weeks in, I thought it was a great opportunity to go and have a face to face with each of his teachers. Ya know, to get reacquainted and make sure that my son was off to a strong start…like the good Moms do. I wanted to know, was he paying attention in class? Turning in homework? Testing well? Was he being a productive participant, respectful of classmates, a good citizen and all that jazz?

I knew the answers would be yes, and they were. My kid is no dummy. He doesn’t want to touch that homeschooling business again, either. I was pleased, and his teachers seemed genuinely excited that he had returned. But there was this one thing…

I sat down with a particular teacher and after just a few seconds of talking about my sons education, he changed the subject. He wanted me to know that he was “concerned” about my sons “personal style”. I sat there in relative silence as he boldly declared the sinfulness of my sons attire.

“You know, Mrs. Wright, his boxer shorts, they…they show above his pants. And we are talking about 3 or 4 inches of boxer shorts if he’s sitting. And he has those holes, those hole things, in his ears. And the hair, those colors in his hair, and it’s all off to one side, all down in one eye. And I get it, I really get it. I understand it’s not the clothes that make the man. But this is just over the top – with the lady jeans and the belt buckles – over the top. And I’m not saying I have a problem with piercings and tattoos, that sort of thing. It’s not a problem for me….I have no problem with any of it. But, Mrs. Wright, what kind of Christian example are we setting here? What is the world going to see when they look at him? As Christians, we should be set apart, should we not?”

*Sigh* Um. Yeah. We should. But I’m pretty sure you and I don’t agree about how, exactly.

You know what? You don’t “get it”, and you’re not “okay” with it. So let’s just stop pretending.

See, here’s the deal. I would rather see 3 inches of boxers than 1 inch of ankle. We have a strict “No Floods” rule in our house. Yeah, you heard me. No high-waters allowed! (You wanna come over for dinner? Cool. You’re gonna have to undo that belt a notch or two and let those beige suckers down enough to touch your shoes.) And the kid is 6’3” and growing, by God. And I do mean By God, like God did it. So cut him a break, you’re asking his pants to cover a lot of ground. Oh, and in his defense, we have trained our kids that the waistband of their boxers should be above the top of their jeans at all times. Nothing drives me more nutty than a guy with his pants in his armpits. Sorry, no offense, but I am dead serious about this. Um, those holes are called “plugs”, and his Dad has them, too. Actually, they got them together. Like a father/son bonding thing. And his hair is…his hair. The coolest thing about having hair is that you can do whatever you want to it, think it’s awesome, and realize later that you were an idiot. Remember the 80’s? (Of course you do, you’re still wearing a flock-of-seagulls.)

Hey, I have an idea. How about we set a Christian example that looks like this: We, as Christians, set ourselves apart by giving all people room to be who they are, and in so doing, we learn more about them, which allows us to LOVE them BETTER. That way, I can walk into your classroom and see that you have something valuable to teach my son, even though you appear to be a stuffy, hyper-judgmental Christian. I can look at you and accept that there is, likely, more to you than what you appear to be. And in the same way, you could look at my son and see more than hair and ears and underpants. That way, the next time we sit down like this, we can talk about my son’s character, and I’ll know that you’re talking about his heart.

I’m not asking him to change his clothes, sir, I’m asking you to change your focus.

I didn’t say any of that. But I thought it. I’ll tell you what I told him, and then my son, later….

On a side note, the Spanish teacher was like “You are Stephen’s MOM?!? You look like you could be his sister!!!”, and I was all “Haha, I know, right?”. And that was the end of conversations about appearances for the day, and I kinda liked it, so, all in all, things ended on a high note.

Oh, and please, please, please, do not send me an email telling me how awesome homeschooling is and how I’m missing out and blah blah blah. I really don’t care. You love homeschooling, and that’s cool. I’m not bagging on home schoolers or homeschooling or anything. Just saying, it’s not for us. So, *inhale* take a deep breath… and, *exhale* get over it…



  1. Zac on February 3, 2010 at 10:48 am

    This is my biggest pet peeve. Someone trying to tell someone else what is wrong with them, their parenting style, their kids, etc. Basically, questioning someone's christianity. Who made these people the all knowing judgers of what God wants a Christian to act, look, and think like?

    Jon Acuff's blog touched on this yesterday:

    "So what to do? What to do? Best case scenario is to probably go ahead and judge them, a move that is only amplified if you can do it while overeating. Seriously, if you can say something like, “Cigarettes are sinful because you’re abusing your body, which is the temple of God,” while enjoying a 57 layer burrito from Taco Bell, that would be pretty good. (Although right now, they are running ads about dieting at Taco Bell, this from a company that invented the “fourth meal,” a chance to eat a grilled stuffed burrito between dinner and breakfast. That’s adorable.)

    And don’t you throw the g word back at me. Don’t you use the word all good potluck lunch eatin’, sausage gravy pourin’ on any object Christians enjoy. You know the one I’m talking about, gluttony. Sure, my wife literally said to me the other day, “Are your pants fitting right?” because the button of my jeans could pop off and kill someone right now since I put on 15 pounds over the holidays primarily from Salt & Vinegar Pringles (I swear those things are made from unicorn dreams) but that’s beside the point. This is about smokers. Keep me out of this. I’ll break a crock pot over your back if you come close to getting me to discuss gluttony."

    Bottom line: Christians need to stop telling each other what they should and should not do. Let them be themselves which you so elequently said will help us to love them more!

  2. Laura Winter on February 3, 2010 at 11:45 am

    someone once gave me a lecture about Ethan's onsie and how I shouldn't dress him in clothes that have skulls on them. It was a little pirate monkey for goodness sakes. I love pirates!! Always have, always will.

  3. Carrie on February 3, 2010 at 12:21 pm

    I'm a homeschooling Mom. Only because I have to. So no lectures here. LOL!

  4. sundog on February 3, 2010 at 1:00 pm

    I don't even have to TRY homeschooling to know that I am so not a homeschooler. So there. I can't wait to hear what you did say to him.

  5. Jamie, the Very Worst Missionary on February 3, 2010 at 1:15 pm

    Zac, I read that post, too. Good stuff!

    Laura, please tell me you looked back and dead-panned "Ethan HAS a skull. Yeah, he was born with it… and we don't want him to grow up feeling sensitive about it, so we're embracing now, so that when he's older he'll know it's okay.
    Also, I saw a Paul Frank onsie with a dead pirate monkey on it, and I SO hope it's that one, cuz, OMG, SO CUTE!!

    Carrie, I sincerely hope you are enjoying it! I know it can be a great experience. But if your not, then i offer my condolences you dear, dear woman!!

    sundog – amen! We weren't really surpised by our dislike for the process. But it was still the right things to do for that period of time, so im glad for that. 🙂

  6. deemus on February 3, 2010 at 3:01 pm

    My wife homeschooled our oldest daughter for a while. You know, the "good" moms in her family were doing it, and she is like, a little do-whatever-my-mom-tells-me type, so she did it. For a year. It was with great celebration that my daughter returned to school. Mostly by my daughter. FTR – she was a year ahead of her classmates.

    My wife, god love her, is an artist type. And she is without a doubt the most disorganized person I know. I am exactly the opposite, so she drives me crazy with that "put it anywhere" and "do it whenever" approach to life. Ok, I feel better now.

    1. How a kid dresses is less influenced by a parent at your kids age. If the school wants to control it, they should make it policy.

    2. Gauges. They give me the willies. My youngest daughter's best friend has them. Don't see many girls with those. Sweet kid, love her to death, but, yuk, when I see them. Personal preference here, not a mandate from God. My son's buddy has them too. His are GIGANTIC now after 6 years of having them. They scare me even more. Not sure what it is that gets me on those things.

    3. The colored hair. You gotta be sure to take LOTS of pics of his hair. You will both laugh alot over that later on. Daughter #2 was in the hair color of the month club. No joke. That was junior high and some in high school. I didn't say much at the time, because I knew it was pointless. But now, one of my favorite things to do is pull a pic out and say, "hey, remember when you died your hair pink? Yeah, what the hell were you thinking?" And we all laugh.

    3. I refer you to: Pants on the ground


  7. Anonymous on February 3, 2010 at 3:53 pm

    I am ferociously happy that Stephen expresses himself with things like gauges in his ear, 3" of boxers and a rainbow of colors in his hair when he could, instead, lack the the character to make his own choices about his behaviour, his faith and his morals. He may be my grandson, but this is 1 fantastic kid!!

  8. Anonymous on February 3, 2010 at 4:50 pm

    I'm homeschooling and it's hard as h*&&()(*&)*(!

    Much more work than I thought it would be. thankfully my children are older and with help from tutors and support from a huge homeschooling environment where we live – they practically homeschool themselves. I just correct tests, organize schedules, arrange for sat testing, socialization with other christian teens etc etc etc. It is a lot of work and in our case completely necessary.

    When I see tatoos I just think aaaaahh Needles!!! lots and lots of needles ! same with gauging OUCH. As for the hair – we have been through lots of colors – fortuantely they wash out! The plain truth about that stuff is that some people look "cool" with them and some don't. Steven "rocks" the "cool" look! My family is nerdy inside and out – my kids and I (with my extra 150 pounds !!!) we seem to "rock" the "nerd" look! and we are cool with that! Whatever floats your boat!! If you can pull it off – why not!!

    Why is it that the "perfect" Christians, are so judgemental? Stevens teacher – Hmmmmm Judgemental much? Maybe a re-read of Romans 2 – When passing judgement on another you condemn yourself……

    We will pray for Stevens teacher.

    Steven – your individuality, personality and style rock!!!!!!!!

    A sweet, drug free, wholesome Christian teen, doing wonderful things with his life is a blessing – in any and every way, shape, color or style!

    Love to you all! N, A & T

  9. Anonymous on February 3, 2010 at 5:13 pm

    p.s. from N, A&T

    If Stevens teacher told the truth he is probably having problems with his own teen!

    We are currently trying to rid our very articulate bright 14 year old teenaged boy of the habit of swearing – and as frustrating as that is – if the "f" word and some other salty language is the worst thing he ever does in his teen years and his lifetime I will be truly grateful to God!

    We all have our imperfections – even Stevens teacher and his teens.

    All the externally appearing "perfect" people are always the ones who end up in the news for the most sinful behavior.

    There is nothing more frightening and evil than the sin within.

  10. Jamie, the Very Worst Missionary on February 3, 2010 at 8:23 pm

    So long as my son is kind, generous and agreeable, he can wear what he likes, color his hair how he likes and have piercings that won't prevent him from gainful employment. That's just how we do it in our home.

    deemus, I'd love to see a missionary version of the "pants on the ground" song. "Pant in your pits, Pants in your pits, Lookin like a dork wit yo pants in yo pits!"

  11. Debbie on February 3, 2010 at 9:01 pm

    I've never commented here, but I would like to about this post. I can tell you are somewhat defensive about your son and his style, as you should be. You're a good mother. My kids, too, have done the hair colors and piercings which haven't affected what great kids they are. However, if your son is attending a Christian school, he should conform to their standards as much as he can out of respect, and you should encourage him to do so. That's just life. He'll have to learn this when he's employeed someday. If he's a great kid like you say he is, he shouldn't mind doing so.
    And the Spanish teacher was right – you look great for having three? four? kids! And you are one hi-lar-ious woman!

  12. Jamie, the Very Worst Missionary on February 3, 2010 at 9:23 pm

    So glad for your comment, Debbie. You sound like a wise woman!! But, you'll have to stay tuned for my actual response…

    I have 3 kids, all boys! And I LOVE being a young Mom. We get funny looks sometimes, but it's all good. Thanks again for taking the time to comment – you are welcome here anytime. 🙂

  13. Kirk on February 3, 2010 at 11:01 pm

    When you guys were here last (and believe me, I feel SO blessed that you made time for us!) Stephen came up and showed me his hair.

    Gotta say…it's not my thing BUT – he thought it was cool and then it hit me – that's what matters!! He's not fronting – he's being him! And he shared it with me – he could have put on a ball cap. Anyone gives him a hard time, Big K will be there to go all Marine on them in a few months (whew – feel better now).

    I'm the very worst missionary supporter in that I have a much harder time with flexibility on waistline at all – I don't like floods and I don't like droughts. I used to tell my son "say no to crack" so much that our neighbors started calling me Nancy Reagan…I even told my 30-something year old cousin that at a family gathering several weekends ago…but I am working on it.

    You're doing OK and even better than OK.

  14. Anonymous on February 3, 2010 at 11:16 pm


    you are tooooo funny!

    Yo YO Pants in ya pits!!! My family theme song!! lol

    We rock the "dork" look and we be coo widdit.

    tee hee

  15. Anonymous on February 4, 2010 at 12:30 am


    Unless the school had a defined dress code, or uniforms (you know, to kill your child's creative side and individuality), They cannot complain. The teacher is only looking skin deep, and of all places,a Christian school should be looking at the their hearts and faith! Sing it with me everyone– "all in all, it's just a-nother brick in the wall"

    Dan O

  16. Jamie, the Very Worst Missionary on February 4, 2010 at 8:56 am

    I totally agree, Dan O! And love me some Pink Floyd!!!

  17. deemus on February 4, 2010 at 4:30 pm

    I will see what I can do about a "pants in yo pits" rendition. I know people. LOL

    I agree with Dan O. Unless it breaks some sort of dress code, they need to leave it alone. Its not their place to just "criticize." Let these kids find their creative side, God put it there.

    This exemplifies a bigger problem in the Christian world. That leaders are often more obsessed with the appearance of folks, than with the condition of the heart.

    Glad i don't go to a church like that anymore. My church has moved beyond that. We have reformed bikers, former drug addicts, former prostitutes. You know, the kind of people that Jesus came to save and frequently hung out with. Probably more than half of our congregation has a visible tat. (I don't, cuz I am AFRAID of needles)

    Jesus was most concerned with the condition of the heart. That's why he picked a cheating tax collector, and a few fisherman who had already "flunked out" of rabbi school. Instead of the religious leaders of the day. He accepted those guys as they were, and made them who he wanted them to be. As it turns out, he still does just that.

  18. Anonymous on February 4, 2010 at 10:09 pm

    I bet you were such a great homeschool teacher. I am so glad you were able to put him back on the straight and narrow. The fact that he is doing so well really speaks to your skills as a teacher and a mom.

    Keep up the good work.

  19. kimberlywenger on February 6, 2010 at 11:21 am

    Your son has REALLY cool hair. 🙂

    It's refreshing to hear a mom who actually defends her children and sees the importance of allowing kids to try out new things. Hair color can always be changed. Our memories and our experiences cannot.

  20. Emily. :) on February 9, 2010 at 6:19 pm

    Um. Since I'm 16, I can say this. Your son is CUTE. Hahahaha. That's all I'm gonna say 'bout that.

  21. thenelsens on April 21, 2010 at 10:08 pm

    I was originally introduced to your blog through your dad and started following it through the above-commented Emily, and this is my first comment, so you don't know who I am at all…but I have to say, I love that you are so supportive of your son and his choices. Having been in situations where my hair was less-than conformist or I made decisions in regards to piercings/tattoos that my parents didn't agree with…let's just say that I envy your son. It's amazing and refreshing to read the blog of a person who is so accepting and open-minded.

  22. Jamie, the Very Worst Missionary on April 21, 2010 at 10:17 pm

    Thanks, thenelsons! Great comment! We try hard to keep our battles in the parenting department limited to character issues. Everything else is negotiable! 🙂
    Thanks again for taking the time to leave a comment! I really appreciate it. 🙂

  23. Fiona on February 18, 2011 at 12:23 pm

    First, you totally DO look like you could be his sister!

    Second, I love this post. I am SO all about letting people be who they are, although, I'm embarrassed to say that I wasn't always that way. Instead of clothing or piercings, my issue was drinking and I used to think, "How can Christian's drink and still call themselves Christians?" Yes, I was one of THOSE. Ugh. That's how I was brought up so I felt a bit brainwashed in that area. Then I read Donald Miller's Blue Like Jazz and it honestly broke the tiny box I'd been living in. That book freed me from so many judgements I had on people and I felt exactly that … freedom. Judging people is SOOOO confining and it was amazing to break through that and realize that each person has their own individual relationship with God and it's not my job to try to make them conform to MY ideas … which is why I got the words Freedom in Christ actually tattooed on my body!

Leave a Comment