I saw the story about Taylor Pugh at the Dallas Morning News website the other day and I didn't think it was worth blawg-ing about; but the with appearanace of the story in the paper of record, Taylor's hairstyle became the deabte of the morning at the 'bucks.
Lets let reporter James C. McKinley, Jr, give you the background:
No exception could be made for the pint-size rebel, who sat through the hearing with his hair in a ponytail, manifestly bored. 'I don’t think it’s right to hold a child down and force him to do something,' [Taylor's father, Delton] Pugh, a tattoo artist, told The Associated Press. 'It’s not hurting him or affecting his education.' The parents rejected a compromise proposed by the board under which they would braid his hair and pin it up.
Since Nov. 24, when his principal decreed that Taylor’s hair had grown too long, the boy has been sent to the library to study alone with a teacher’s aide. 'They kicked me out of that place,' Taylor told a reporter on Dec. 17. 'I miss my friends.'"
Can we all agree that this kid is adorable?
The debate breaks down predictably along the lines of--what the hell does his hair length have to do with being in preschool, or any school; don't the hair police have something more important to do? This argument is what I call: the what-is-rational-basis-for-regulating-hair-styles pole of the polemic, and truth be told my natural inclinations lie with this argument. The other position is: the schools have an absolute right to promulgate and enforce rules, especially dress codes that apply to participants in their schools because one of life's most important lessons is learning to follow rules even if you don't agree with them. I sympathize with this argument surviving 3 years in the US Army, 7 years of higher education, and perhaps a little less successfully (at this point at least) 28 years as a lawyer--following the rules, more-or-less.
I should point out that the Boys at 'bucks this AM had a lot to say about the parents, speculating to a considerable degree on Delton Pugh and his mother, Elizabth Taylor(!?)--and implicitly their alternative worldview. There was some push back from the what's-the-rational-basis crowd speculating on the small-mindedness of the Mesquite (well, really all) School Board(s).
One of the things I'm most ashamed of in the history of my parenting, involved something I did maybe ten yeasr + with my then young children in tow.
Around our town 10 or 11 years ago, we were in an economic boom. The downside, if any, of a booming economy is that more jobs existed than could be filled. Perhaps you noticed that on the service sector side you had small chain eateries staffed by barely competent or trained service people, usually youngsters. Personally, it drives me crazy to go into a retail establishment staffed with youngsters who are playing grab-ass while you try to get served.
On this particular occasion I was at one of the chain Bagel places that were popping up across OurTown trying to get order takeout lunch. I was accompanied by my pre-school son, and his first grader sister, my daughter (the young blonde.) The Bagel place was busy. We had a tray and we had already put a few items on the tray, as we slid down the line. The counter was "attended" by young woman who was too busy talking to a co-worker to wait on customers. I tried to ask about what was available for kids, she ignored me. I repreated my question this time a little louder, she ignored me. I asked a third time almost shouting the question, she didn't even look at me. I picked up the tray and hurled it over the counter and into the wall behind her, "Do I have Your Attention Now?" I demanded! The Bagel store immediately became deadly silent. My kids burst into tears, the manager rushed over and asked me to leave which I assured him I would do. I've never returned. Shaking with rage I took my crying kids out to the car and we went elsewhere.
What an asshole I was, and what an asshole, I am still capable of being.
I'm sure those of you who have read this blawg will be wondering if this is what happened at the time of the Justice Center melee that I related at the outset of this history of my career, thus far, in the "brilliant" early utterings labeled Pepper Spray, Parts 1 and 2. Feel free to draw your own conclusions, but what I said in those posts is what occurred while I do not deny that confrontation is in my character. My actions in the Justice Center melee was characterized by numerous law enforcement eyewitnesses as not provocative. Still this in-your-face quality is a unifying thread among all Bad Lawyers.
Nonetheless, what I did at this Bagel place was one of my worse moments as a parent. You see, I became exhibit "A" for my children: of the out-of-control rage-a-holic. All the words, and trust me I've used them will not undo what I did to them, and taught them in this one moment of inexcusable behavior. I taught them that it is okay to throw public tantrums, it is okay to be oppositional and outrageous in public. It is okay, to be dysfunctional in the face of what you subjectively view as provocation. I stripped my kids of their sense that the adult male role-model in their life, was sane, rational, and trustworthy. I did this in the blink of an eye. I am much more ashamed of that moment than anything I did as a lawyer in not living up to the rules that brought me to this professional point.
Taylor Pugh, at age 4 doesn't give a shit about his "hair style." His parents have an agenda, and that agenda is not much different than Balloon-boy's parents. Whether Taylor's parents realize it or not, they are using Taylor so they can star in their own little drama and the lesson of "rebellion" and oppositional conduct, how's that going to work out for little Taylor? Next stop for Taylor, Texas Youth Commission? How'd that "rebel"-thing work out for you, darling Taylor?