Parma principal Linda Geyer had been warning Bryan’s mother Michele Barile about bucking the school’s grooming rules since the first day of school last fall. Geyer even wrote Barile a letter, reminding her of the bad things that could happen to a youngster who kept wearing a Mohawk to school. A few days ago, Bryan walked into school with his disruptive hair one time too many. He got sent home. “It was his third infraction,” said Geyer. So Bryan’s out of Parma.
And there’s this: Bryan is 6 years old. Parma Community School is kindergarten. The kid probably doesn’t even have a permanent tooth yet, but he’s already got a record.
Maybe it’s just me, but this strikes me as quite a conundrum. On the one hand, I have my natural dislike of hidebound and humorless schoolteachers, who always seem to be making up crazy-ass rules about hair, shirt and pants colors, the length of skirts, the sag of pants and the like.
I remember a few years back, some kid down in Williamson County couldn’t graduate with his class because his high school insisted that all the boys wear black shoes to the graduation ceremony. But this lone rebellious youth showed up wearing the dreaded and disruptive brown shoes. Sorry, bubba. You get your diploma when you show the educators that you’ve taken the brown-shoe pledge.
I also remember when my eighth-grade history teacher, the evil and pig-faced Gloria Rush, sent me to the bathroom with orders to “comb that hair out of your face.” Well, I went to the bathroom, wet my hair, combed it about eight inches straight up, then went back to class. Rush couldn’t do anything to me. I followed orders, got big laughs from the kids in history class and made Rush look like an ass, which was my goal. On that day, I’m pretty sure I invented radical spiky hair and the portmanteau word “cankles,” which I used to describe Gloria Rush’s lumpy lower legparts.
Besides my problems with schoolteachers, I have a gripe with parents who turn their children into accessories. I could be wrong, but I don’t think that young Bryan cares a whole lot about his hair. He’s in kindergarten, for cryin’ out loud. Or he was in kindergarten until his mama got him kicked out. “They can’t tell me how I can cut his hair,” mama Michele said.
Well, no. But they can show her and her son the door and then lock it behind them.
A 6-year-old boy shouldn’t think about his hair any more than he thinks about nipple rings, which he shouldn’t think about at all. All the testosterone in me tells me that young Bryan has that haircut because his mama wants to glam him up like a teensy little punk-rocker dude. Pardon me for saying so, but it’s a little too JonBenet for me. I’ve seen pictures of the little fellow. He’s a good-looking kid. Cute as can be in his little red Harley-Davidson sweatshirt.
Which brings me to this: Where’s Bryan’s daddy? Might he be of help in solving this problem with the school? Might he explain to his son, in a father-son kind of way, the kind of things that my friend H.L. Vaughan explained to his son? “There’s a division of labor at our house, son,” H.L. said. “For instance, you and I don’t pick out paint colors or worry about paint colors. Mom’s in charge of paint colors. You and I worry about the cars, roof leaks and stuff like that.”
Without that kind of father-son discourse, a boy might end up like the poor little fellow I saw at the batting cage a few years back. The boy’s mama walked the boy—who I guessed was about 8 or 9 years old—into the batting cage, stood the little guy on top of home plate and turned him to face the 70-mph pitching machine. She handed him a too-small bat, then dropped a token into the token box. Well, don’t you know that the first ball out of the machine smacked the would-be baseballer hard, right in his boyparts, and left him doubled over and screaming.
The hair issue could just get worse for Bryan Ruda. Although his haircut has been described as a Mohawk, a photo on the cleveland.com website shows the young fellow with his head shaved on both sides with a swath of longish hair running down the middle of his head and onto his forehead. When I described the haircut to my professional haircut woman yesterday, she said, “That’s not a Mohawk, and it’s not a fauxhawk. What you’re describing is pretty close to a 1940s military haircut, sometimes referred to as a ‘Hitler Youth.’ ”
Being as I’m fashion-backward, I’d never heard of a Hitler Youth haircut until yesterday. Now, I can see where some folks might get mightily offended, or at least somewhat troubled, by the sight of a 6-year-old boy sporting one. Not that it’s any of my business, but I say master Ruda would benefit from a normal boy haircut. And if it’s possible, it wouldn’t hurt for his daddy to be the one who takes him to the barbershop.
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