Embarrassing Picture Syndrome woes

I was talking to one of my staff members the other day. He was telling me about finding an old photo in which he sported a rattail. If you don’t remember this hairstyle, it was cool in the ‘80s for men to grow what I would call a sickly-looking ponytail. Most of the hair would be short, with one ratty batch of hair trailing off the back of the head and crawling down the back, hence the name “rattail.” This young man went on to say how embarrassing and nerdy that style looked. That set me thinking, and when that happens, you never know where things will end up.

My children never had a buzz, Mohawk, rattail or design cut into the side of their head like a hairy Mount Rushmore. They just had normal haircuts. Whenever they wanted one of those fad haircuts, I offered to cut their hair myself. Something about me holding a pair of buzzing clippers, giving a frightening smile and howling at the ceiling kept them away from any new-fangled haircuts. Whenever I offered to become their barber, they refused.

It hasn’t happened yet, but one of these days, they’ll be grateful that in my wisdom, I saved them from EPS (Embarrassing Picture Syndrome). That’s the day your family gathers around and someone pulls out the old photo album. Then someone else points to a photo and says, “Who’s that weirdo?” And your wife (husband) responds, “That’s your dad (mom).”

At that point, your children laugh so hard that tears run down their cheeks. They keep pointing at the picture and saying, “Look at you, Dad (Mom)! What a geek!” while you sit off to one side, mumbling “What was I thinking?”

Who ever thought teasing your hair until it was twice the size of your head made you look appealing? And why did they give little girls permanents to match Grandma’s? And then there was the mullet (I would say this one wasn’t too bad, but my sons would disagree). You can bet you’ll never see the picture of me trying to become cool by sporting an Afro. I looked like a Q-Tip with one end on fire. Yes, I, too, have been a victim of EPS.

My children still don’t appreciate the way I tried to save them from EPS. It may come after my death, but one day, they’ll express their gratitude.

But gratitude has become a lost art. Nowadays when it comes, it catches me off-guard. Remember the Bible story about Jesus healing the 10 lepers (Luke 17:12-19)? Leprosy was a terrible disease. If you got it, you were cast away with other lepers and spent your last days watching its effects eat away at your body.

Of the 10 lepers, one was a Samaritan, a foreigner, doubly despised by society. He was both a half-breed and a leper, either one making him an outcast.  But when Jesus came by, this man was healed along with the rest. “Jesus asked, ‘Were not all ten cleansed? Where are the other nine? Has no one returned to give praise to God except this foreigner?’ Then he said to him, ‘Rise and go; your faith has made you well’” (Luke 17:17-19). The man who was healed got a double blessing. You see, there is a blessing in being grateful.

But you don’t have to wait for EPS to show up before you can show gratitude to your parents. If you haven’t done it yet, maybe you can try it soon. Here are five ways to show your parents gratitude:

  1. Give them a handwritten note. A few words can touch them more deeply than you’ll ever know. And if your mom is anything like my wife, that little note will be stored away in a special place.
  2. Talk to them about the good things they’ve done for you. Thank them for the many times they picked you up from school or took you to birthday parties. Thank them for the many hours they sat in the bleachers cheering you on. Thanks them for the good stuff, and don’t mention anything else.
  3. Thank them for the times they said no. At the time, it seemed like the end of the world, but because they loved you, they had to refuse your request.
  4. Let them know they’re still as important to you as when you were a child and that you appreciate their influence and guidance.
  5. Thank them for their sacrifice. Every parent has sacrificed something of themselves to see their child grow up. Whether it’s time, money, goals or desires, all have sacrificed something.

And if your children don’t express their gratitude, remember you still have those embarrassing pictures you can post on social media. After all, EPS works both ways.