I am thinking today about awkwardness.
As faithful readers will know, a few weeks ago, I directed, Annie. This play required an 8th grade boy to shave his head. That is not an easy thing for an 8th grade boy—even a confident one—to do. So, I told him that if he would shave his head, I would shave mine.
You see the result.
It was kind of nice, being almost bald. I’m not super-fussy about my hair, but I don’t want to look dumb.
This do was cool because it required no extra time in the mornings, and there was no worrying about it being messy during the day.
Still, I decided to go ahead and grow it back out because, while it was convenient, let’s face it: I look like a serial killer.
So, here I am several weeks between baldness and maturity (at least in terms of the length of my hair). My hair is at a very awkward age right now. It’s too short to comb or brush, but long enough to protrude at strange, inharmonious angles. One patch, especially, grows in a completely different direction than all the other hair. It is also long enough to get messed up, so in the morning I have a strange, munchkin version of bedhead.
A few more weeks and all this can be covered with a brush and some moderate doses of hair product. Right now, I am in between these stages and just look awkward. But the only way to get out of the awkward stage is to endure it a little longer.
It’s almost spring here. This means that my beloved 8th graders are starting to think about graduating. I’m working on an end-of-the-year slideshow that features pictures of them through the years. The difference is astounding. In 6th grade they were all lumpy, dumpy little things. Now they are handsome young men and beautiful young women instead of chubby chipmunks.
It’s not just the outside. The insides have changed most of all. They are prone to discuss things instead of getting in fights (verbal or physical). You can have a conversation with them and think you’re talking to an adult. They have stopped smelling bad (or at least learned to mask the odor with appropriately scented personal hygiene products). Maturity is popping out all over, like the pimples that started plaguing them last year. They are budding into who they will be for the rest of their lives. They aren’t there yet, but instead of seeming like totally alien creatures, you can at least see the trajectory and how they’ll get there. They are recognizable as adults-in-progress.
Awkwardness seems to come when we are between things—baldness and regular hair, children and adults—and, I would add, spiritual infancy and exaltation.
Right now, I’m definitely in a sort of spiritual adolescence—doing lots of goofy things, often feeling pretty awkward. But I think—oh, I hope!!!—that I’m sort of on the 8th grade side instead of the 6th grade side. I know have a lot longer to be between, a long way to go, but I hope there are beginning to be glimmers that I’m a work-in-progress.
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