While waiting for a table at one of our favorite breakfast spots, I was sandwiched in between my almost 4yr old and the baby in his car seat on one side and on the other, a very nice couple who were chatty and pleasant and looked a little more Ashland than Portland: the woman had long dreadlocks and the man had his very long hair in two braids. We were all waiting for the rest of our parties to join us before being seated (a pesky Portland breakfast rule).
Soon, Dreadlocks and Braids were joined by four others, who I quickly deduced were Braids’ parents and brother, along with brother’s girlfriend. Braids’ mother could not stop staring at my boys and right before their party was called to be seated, she turned to me and said, “You don’t think they’ll turn out like this. They graduated from college with honors!” I wasn’t sure what she meant at first but then we happened to be seated next to them inside the restaurant.
She got up from her chair to specifically come over to tell me that I should enjoy dressing my boys alike (as they were in matching train shirts) now. “My two boys,” she pointed out, “See? One has braids. You just don’t know, you just can’t predict what they’ll be like. No jobs. Free spirits. Enjoy this stage.” Braids’ girlfriend spent most of breakfast talking about essential oils and saying profound things like, “I really believe that everything you need is right in front of you.”
In the car on the way home, I tried to picture either of my boys with long hair and braids, or with a girlfriend who wore dreadlocks and smelled like lavender and patchouli. I predict I’ll be like the mom in the restaurant: still willing to pay for breakfast and meet the girlfriend, but more than a little disappointed that my son’s hair is longer than mine.