Mr. Too Cool for School

Dear Michael,

You’re seven years old, in second grade, and you’ve put on your standard outfit. You wear pointy black cowboy boots, a brown leather aviator jacket and faded blue jeans, each knee with a rip of your own making. You have on black sunglasses and a black-and-white bandana wrapped expertly, by your own hand, around your brow. To top it off, dangling from your right ear, left over from a Halloween costume, is a gold-plated, clip-on hoop earring.

You’re a four-foot tall, 45-pounder decked out like a rock star on a cross-country tour. Thus do you board the yellow bus for your daily trip to elementary school.

So it went with you then.

You would hang out in front of the bathroom mirror, combing your thick, wavy brown hair to mimic the styles you caught on MTV. You’ve begged us to let you grow your hair longer so you can sport a ponytail.

You’re barely an adolescent, yet you’ve already mastered a second language: fluent backtalk. If I joke with you too freely or somehow upset you, you might tell me to give you a break or take a hike. You will propose, with growing frequency, that I either get out of town, get real, get a job or, more simply, get a life. Your mouth strikes me as a prematurely, precociously adult instrument.

Oh, you’re the complete package all right: the funky uniform, the hipper-than-thou attitude, the up-to-the-minute idiom. Your purpose is clear. You want more than anything on the planet to be cool.

As you strut through our apartment, you lip sync to M.C. Hammer, fingering an air guitar. You now carry a comb to school and chase girls around the playground. You bop along with us on family outings – bandana, earrings and all – and draw gasps and surprised glances from passersby.

One time we all go out for pizza and the teenagers at the next table are so taken with your look that you’re invited over for a cameo appearance.

You’re Mr. Cool. Mr. Too Cool For School.

P.S. – Question of the Day: What do you say to your kids about the concept of cool?

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