By Panther, 2018-08-27
While I was considering dreading my hair, which took around 2 years, I sometimes wondered why in the so-called "ugly phase" dreads are frequently called "teenage dreads". I`m only four months in and don`t claim to know the answer yet by a long chalk, in fact I don`t know much about dreads at all - yet. But I do know a bit about teenagers, because I raised four sons more-or-less on my own and have taught hundreds of children. So here are a few parallels with which my limited experience of dreads has presented me to date.
Teenagers are typically (not always) pretty obnoxious. Spotty, smelly, hairy, rebellious, histrionic, unpredictable, rude, ungrateful - and at times tearjerkingly sweet, unexpectedly loving or wise, heartbreakingly and ephemerally beautiful.
Teenagers egg each other on. If you have a "badass" teenager sitting next to a "good" teenager, you`re likely going to end up with two pretty unruly characters on your hands. The badass one may or may not become less badass, but the good one is definitely going to get worse.
Any attempt to force or coerce teenagers into the kind of "tidy" behaviour you expect from them is likely to result in even more unruliness. Leave them alone and they behave much better.
Despite their impossible behaviour, teenagers - like everyone else - need to be loved for what they are here and now (even when they take obvious pleasure in consistently disregarding all your boundaries), not for some fictitious imagined perfection they are expected to attain in the future.
If you are capable of listening to them, teenagers will show you mercilessly that you are not what you thought you were. Maybe they show you that you have fewer "good" attributes than you thought, maybe they show you that you cultivate your "good" attributes for the wrong reasons, maybe they show you that your "good" attributes are tainted by self-interest or the urge to control. From my sons I learned that I was more selfish and more of a control-freak than I thought I was. From my 4-month old dreadlocks I have learned that I am vainer, more concerned about other people`s opinion and (still) more of a control freak than I thought I was. This tells me that my sons were not able to teach me to be less of a control-freak; I hope my dreadlocks will finish the job, I really do, because it`s not much fun being a control-freak and it`s no fun at all being a control-freak with teenage dreadlocks. My sons love my dreadlocks, by the way. They found them fantastic right from the first moment. They are fascinated by the process and sharing it every way. I guess they recognise that I`m growing, maybe it`s that they find good. Salutations to all in a similar stage of growth, every which way, and a toast to uncomfortable, unattractive, uncontrollable and magical teenage chaos the world over.