On Coolness

Hubs and I are not cool.  I listen to Barry Manilow with regularity, and Hubs (I’m not kidding) once watched a two-hour PBS documentary on Shitake mushrooms.  I mean, we’re fun to be around, we’re blessed with lots of friends, but do not have that quintessential whatever-it-is that makes a person supremely cool (which, I might add, is perfectly fine with us). 

It would stand to reason that two un-cool parents would produce equally un-cool offspring, wouldn’t it?  If this were biological fact, then someone switched our second son at the hospital.

Stephen, age 7, is naturally cool.  He can smoothly navigate any social situation, and he effortlessly finds himself at the center of the crowd wherever he goes.  He’s a born leader, regularly forming (and heading) “clubs” of boys on the playground.  He certainly didn’t learn this skill from us, so somewhere in this little boy’s genetic code there must be a DNA molecule wearing an iPod.   

Case in point:  Stephen has a growing awareness of what music is popular right now–an awareness that was getting out of hand.  He was coming home from school singing Gwen Stefani (whose music I actually like, but not all her lyrics belong in the mouth of a 1st grader).  So one evening Stephen and I sat down at the computer together to create him a CD of “cool” music with a positive message.  We browsed through the Newsboys and Worship Jamz, but Stephen insisted on hearing a preview of any song we downloaded.  Because, in his words, “I want to make sure it sounds like hip-hop, not funk.  I don’t like funk.”  Hip-hop?  Funk?  Where is he getting this stuff–on the playground?  Doesn’t anyone play Red Rover these days?

When we stumbled upon the Newsboys song WooHoo, my blond-haired, snaggle-toothed boy exclaimed (in his best gangsta voice), “Aww, yeah, Mom, that’s TIGHT!”  “Tight?” I asked him.  He just grinned.  “Yeah, you know, tight.  Good.  Cool.” 

(And may I pause to point out that I correctly used the term “gansta” in the previous paragraph, so perhaps there is hope for me still).

While Stephen’s coolness is entertaining, we’re not so naive to miss this red flags in this.  He may be a little too sophisticated for his own good, and I sometimes feel my hands tightening around the reins, gearing up for what may be a bumpy ride through adolescence.  Very often I ask God to hold that hip little heart in His hands, and use Stephen’s social giftedness to draw others to Him.  Mercifully, even in Stephen’s coolness, he is blessed with a soft heart and a natural compassion.  He told me last week that his current playground “club” meets under the slide at recess to “pray and talk about being nice to girls.” If you ask me, I’d say that’s pretty tight.

This post was originally published on April 27, 2006.

27 thoughts on “On Coolness

  1. JLS says:

    Wonderful writing. I LOVE reading your posts.
    Your boys are at the age now that you have WONDERFUL opportunity to shape their thoughts and words. Be creatively firm, bible based, and persistent. I had 3 boys and I LOVED the teen years. The hard work is NOW before you get there. You reap the benefit later!

  2. Anissa says:

    Playground at school are no place for little ones — when my kids were in school they would come home and ask the crazies questions. I love now that they are at home being homeschooled and I don’t have to worry about them they are learning true family values and I here if they have questions not there friends at school — I’ve met some of there friend in our old town and believe me I’m glad we moved. Some of the kids I think will be in jail before to long. My 13 years old was the one I worried about the most because he is a follower not a leader I sure hope that changes. Good Luck to you! Oh another note I love music but I an a big rap music freak I still the one that will get in the car and turn the music up like you did when you were 16. I don’t feel 35 — I have 3 younger sister so I kind of kepted up with the times.

  3. Heather says:

    I am feeling you here. That is the reason my blog is “Cool and Hip, I am not.”
    I think your Stephen and my oldest son are very much alike. As mine entered 4th grade this year, I am seeing things I do not like. The reins are tight.
    Oh, Barry Manilow is good.

  4. Melissa says:

    Funny post. 🙂 I KNOW I’m a dorky mom, but fortunately the fact that I’m a dork doesn’t bother me NEAR as bad as it did in high school. Like you, I have a kid who is WAY cooler than I ever thought about being, and has a ton of friends everywhere she goes. I think kids secretly WANT their parents to be strict and nerdy, whether they admit that or not!

  5. Kelly says:

    He told me last week that his current playground “club” meets under the slide at recess to “pray and talk about being nice to girls.”
    I defiantly think you are doing something right. Sounds like his “club” is way cool.

  6. Beck says:

    My kids are all kind of dorkish, but sweetly so, and able to get along with others – so it’s sort of the best of all worlds, I think.
    Some friends of mine STRIVE to have cool, worldly kids, and I always find myself thinking “You have not thought this all the way through…”

  7. Beachmom says:

    Great post, and I am another mother who has tightened the reigns a bit – actually, I am just making myself even more a pain in the neck when our eldest decides to do something with friends. I am fortunate that he still thinks having mom around is a good thing, so I often get to tag along at friend events. That is the best way I have found to keep tabs on what is going on, and his group of friends share all kinds of interesting info with me!

  8. Kristin says:

    Ahhh, that made me laugh! I have a middle child a lot like your 7 year old. Thanks for sharing.
    And the Steven Curtis Chapman story today was amazing! I am glad I got to watch it.

  9. Shannon says:

    Well said. What is it about the second born boys? My brother and my own second born are the exact same way. Maybe it is because we learned our mistakes on the first born son and relaxed on the second one. He also has less pressure to be the best and is comfortable being who he is.

  10. Rachel says:

    Has your son tried Relient K? They’re a Christian rock band. I enjoy their lyrics and music. Both very inspiring in an edgy sort of way. I’m not sure if it would be classified closer to Hip-hop or funk. Funny that your first grader would know the difference between those two!

  11. Tiffanie says:

    It is definitely amusing what my six year old picks up, even at church.
    That is so sweet that his “club” talks and prays about being nice to girls. That’s our prayer for our kids too (especially the cool outgoing one)… That they would draw their friends to Christ.

  12. Sam says:

    very funny!! I am the one girl in a group of four and only one of the boys got the cool gene!! (I didn’t manage to snag that one either!)
    by the way, I had no idea that there was enough information on shiitake mushrooms to fill a TWO hour programme!! 😉

  13. Dawn says:

    Love your post!! I’ve been wanting to blog on a similar topic but was leery to because I was afraid the person who had recently taught me to be happy I wasn’t as cool as her would read it. :0)
    We had a girl from Spain stay with us. She was 17 and a beautiful girl. We really enjoyed her. I had to laugh though when she’d have her friends over. They’d spend hours doing their hair and getting beautiful. I realized finally why I wasn’t as cool or popular in school as some of the other girls who were beautiful like this girl. It takes HOURS to do all that primping and painting and polishing and getting earrings and shoes and belts and purses to coordinate perfectly with carefully chosen outfits! In high school and college I was a voracious reader who also has a variety of other interests (not saying beautiful girls don’t….) and there just isn’t enough time to do all that beauty work AND enjoy all the other things one wants to do. I had an interesting sudden sense of peace about myself. Funny that it came 25 years after high school! LOL
    Funny thing is I have a daughter who started out on the road to being very cool and beautiful too. When she was younger she really loved everything princess…however, she’s turned into a book-reading, tom-boy, enthuiastic learner….which makes me very happy. I remember chaparoning at a church dance about 10 years ago – before she was born. I marvelled out loud with my husband and the beautiful young girls there and told him I hoped our daughter turned out to be a bit of a nerd…much less to worry about! :0)

  14. Steff says:

    I too will never be cool and i have great fears my oldest inherited every insecurity I have as well. My second son however inherited every ounce of his daddy’s kewl…and he knows it and most of the time all it takes is the batting of his blue eyes and a few choice words and other kids follow him like the pied piper…its frightening

  15. Coralie says:

    What do you mean a two hour documentary on Shitake mushrooms isn’t cool? You’ve just shattered my view of my heretofore considered cool husband. 🙂

  16. Stretch Mark Mama says:

    I still have memories of my husband being engrossed with “Shackleton.” Every so often we’ll just look at each other and say, “Shackleton!”
    Meanwhile, I’ve realized this summer that my near-7-year-old is the Cool One on the playground. So obviously, I’ve planned a little history of the Antarctic into school this year. That’s the only kind of “coolness” we can handle.

  17. Laura @ Mommy Menagerie says:

    Every day when I pick my son up the other boys are asking him if they can be or still are in his “club,” and he’s always telling me about his clubs too. Such a funny personality trait. He makes friends so easily but is so tender-hearted too, but his daddy’s just the same so I’m glad I have him to help me with his little mini-me.

  18. Mo says:

    I somehow clicked my way to your blog the other day, and feel like I discovered a small gold mine of sorts. I absolutely love your writing! You have so much to say, and say it so well.
    I also love this post. My step-son is 6 and is the same way. He’s a little charmer, and definitely knows it. I watch my husband trying to discipline him sometimes, and loss his composure when the 6-year-old makes a joke that is legitimately funny and appropriate to the situation. We too wonder if this is warning for rough roads ahead… but the best we can do is thank God for blessing such a unique personalitly, and pray that in the end he will use it for God’s glory.
    Thanks for writing this! It really got me thinking!

  19. Anonymous says:

    I love you blog, but FYI, “tight” refers to a part of the female anatomy that a male would prefer if it were tight. Hence “tight” = good, cool, etc. I know you’d want to know the origin of the slang! It’s yucky, I know, but that might be one of those “don’t use that word, and simply because I said so” types of situations!

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