Daughter 2 came in to me, wielding the kitchen scissors. Let’s cut his beard off, she said, waving them around like a hairdresser who has a vendetta. She was referring to dog 1, but I knew that this could be controversial. You see, partner loves beards. I always knew that he liked beards, because occasionally we would pass someone with a beard and I would make a comment such as, ‘what a dreadful beard!’ and he would defend the beard. Yes, he would actually defend that person’s facial hair. Now don’t get me wrong, a bit of stubble adorning a chiselled jaw is super, a long, straggly beard on a 65 year old hells angel, isn’t. Neither is one of those beards that looks like a shit brown carpet from Carpet Right. I try to explain all this to partner, that there are certain beards that work and those that definitely don’t, but he still gets occasional beard envy.
When we got dog 2 clipped, the first thing partner said was: he’s lost his beard! We are definitely a divided camp in this house: females x 5 anti the beard, male x 1 in the remain camp. And boy does that 1 x male gets a beard bashing from the 5 x females in this house. Daughter 4 called him, ‘prickly hedgehog’ for years, every time he said night night. I remember feeling the same way about my Uncle’s beard when I was little. But, oh the contempt of a teenager…have you ever experienced being dragged over hot coals? That is what it is like when a teenager lets rip:
Are you going to shave this morning? (disgusted look on teenager’s face)
I wasn’t going to.
(Teenager looks like she is going to be physically sick over her bagel) I think you should.
(Red rag to partner. I exit the kitchen.) Well, if that’s what you think, then I won’t. (I’m gesticulating, ‘let it go’ signs from the garden, through the window).
And that very same daughter is now wielding those scissors at dog 1, with a glint in her eye. ‘Let’s do it while he’s not here to stop us’, she says excitedly. I disarm her and hack away at it myself. It’s somehow liberating.
On our dog walk the next morning, dog 1 gets chased by a greyhound. “That wouldn’t have happened if he’d still had his beard”, partner says. I laugh the comment off, skeptically. “He had more authority with his beard”, he continues.
So there, I thought, we have it: men, beards and authority. Perhaps this is exactly what teenage daughter is trying to challenge.