For all you dads -- and moms -- who think you've got your bases covered with the various "talks" you need to have with your sons, I bring bad news.
There's a new one to add to your repertoire.
If you think the "sex" talk sounds uncomfortable, get ready. And if the "drugs and alcohol" talk makes your heart want to break, there's another doozy waiting out there. Worried you won't find the right words for the "treating girls with respect" talk? I promise this new one will leave you tongue-tied. And if the talk about all the bad-things-in-the-new-world like abductors and terrorism leaves you yearning for the simpler days of Sesame Street and training wheels, you'll definitely feel your age -- and your son's -- when you have this talk.
Yep, I'm referring to a discussion you need to have with your son about shaving and grooming their body hair.
You're squirming, aren't you?
Trust me, I never thought I'd be writing those words myself.
I have to admit, the importance of this talk caught me off guard when I was recently having one of those chats with my now-23-year-old son about all the things that unknowingly flew over my head while he was in his teen years.
It's a talk that takes place with even the best of parents and their kids at some point in their relationship. It's a conversation that often starts with something like:
• "You know that time you and dad were gone for the weekend and left me home alone to watch the dogs?"
• "Do you remember that camping trip I went on with the guys in 11th grade?"
• "Did I ever tell you how I really caught that bad case of poison ivy when I was in 10th grade?"
• "Be honest. Did you know what we were doing in the treehouse all those years?"
Well, my oldest son and I recently had one of those conversations. But his opening line was:
"Did I ever tell you about the time I took off all of my chest hair with a women's leg hair removal cream when I was 15?"
Hearing those words, I knew I had failed this boy.
Sure, I knew he was abnormally hairy as a young kid. And I still feel guilty for not saying anything comforting to him when he was 11 and I realized on that hot, July summer day -- when we were playing in the pool -- that this little lad had more underarm hair than I did. I know, I know. I should have put my arm around him right then and there and had a heartwarming talk about the joy -- and upkeep -- of body hair.
And I know I was at my lowest when he was 17 and he won the "Teenage Werewolf" award at school for obvious reasons. And I just chuckled along with him. I should have acknowledged his suffering while other kids were winning awards for "Best Smile" or "Funniest Kid."
Yes, my son was being called out for his body hair.
I guess I thought it would all work out. I mean, come on. What's a dad supposed to say? What kind of help could I even have offered him?
Body hair is what it is, right?
And now, here I am -- ten years late r-- learning that my little boy took to using women's leg hair removal cream. Alone. Probably in the bathroom with the light's shut off. On what I'm sure was a dark day in his life.
Where was I? Golfing?
To make things worse, I've learned some of the details of that event over the last few days. This secret incident caused a serious chest rash for my son that lasted for several days. But he never reached out to me. His shirts hurt to wear. The typical cotton t-shirt you'd see him wearing -- announcing his love for Duke -- became like a gunnysack of shame. I bet he shed tears.
Fortunately, life offers do-overs.
A few weeks ago, I went and got him a trimmer for all his body hair. And yes, I know that it's something I should have given him many years ago.
But I honestly didn't know.
I didn't grow up in a world where guys trimmed, groomed, shaved or even cared about their body hair. But they do now. Just look at any men's heath or workout magazine and you'll see that it's just a new part of being a guy.
And so I guess us parents owe it to our sons plow a path (pun intended) to help them figure this stuff out.
My son's been using his new trimmer for a few weeks, now. Truthfully, I haven't asked for a show-and-tell, but he tells me he's enjoying it. And that's good enough for me. I'll help my son out. But I'm not about to creep on all of his grooming habits.
Best of all, he's forgiven me for my past indiscretions.
As for me? Well, I can't undo the past. But I can share my story with other parents so they know the importance of this topic. And fortunately for me, I have another son moving through his teenage years.
And it looks like he's another hairy one.
But this time, I'm ready to have "The New Talk."
I have to tell you, this dad job -- for all it's benefits -- gets way too complicated sometimes.
Women's leg hair removal cream? Really?
I'm dreading his next confession.
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