Guest Blogger: Annette Lyon

Annette is the mother of four brilliant, attractive, and well-behaved children. Her sixth novel, ‘Tower of Strength,’ was recently published with Covenant. 

Parents live in a world where their children sit in the center of the universe. No child is better, smarter, cuter, or as miraculous as their own. I’ve heard parents as honest as fishermen when describing their children’s accomplishments. But sometimes I’m struck less by the intensity and more by the subject matter of parents’ pride. 

Take, for instance, red hair. Until I got my own carrot top, I never knew how many parents yearn for red-haired children—or how many parents live in a fantasy world pretending their children actually have it. 

My oldest daughter, Samantha, had bright red hair from day one—to the point of rivaling Ronald McDonald. Since her father, an uncle, and an aunt all had bright red hair as children, having another redhead in the family didn’t exactly shock anyone. 

But where the family lacked in response, neighbors filled in. Suddenly they began pretending their children had red hair, as if they had been left out of an exclusive club.  

“Oh, look, dear,” one mother said to her daughter on seeing mine, “She has red hair just like you.” The daughter’s hair color resembled Marilyn Monroe’s. 

Close to the same time as Samantha’s birth, two other girls were born in the neighborhood. The first definitely had red hair. The mother of the second baby cooed at Samantha. 

“Wow. There’s a lot of red heads in the neighborhood,” she said. “The Smiths’ baby, mine, and now yours.” I hadn’t remembered her daughter being a redhead, so I glanced over. Brown. Not even a hint of strawberry. 

“It’s all right to admit your daughter is a brunette,” I wanted to tell her. “It’s not as if red hair is an indication of intelligence, for crying out loud.”  

Instead I said, “Three of them. Wow. There must be something in the water.” 

My experience with red hair ballooned when  I got a second red-haired daughter and then a third. All screaming red. We can’t leave the house without making sure their hair is brushed and they aren’t wearing purple pants with an orange striped shirt, because we can’t sneak in and out of a store. They will get noticed. They practically stop traffic. 

But . . . if they follow their dad’s footsteps and it fades to brown when they get older, I won’t pretend it’s still red. 

Anyone who has ever been a parent has seen these things and can probably add endlessly to the list of brag topics: first words, first steps, first dissertation.  

I’ve seen woman brag about how many teeth their children have, how quickly they got off baby food, and issues equally as important for predicting a child’s future success in life.  

Such stories used to really irritate me, but after hearing parents spin yarns about their children for well over a decade now, I’m beyond that. Now I simply smile and nod. 

They’re just proud of their kids, I tell myself, even if their reasoning is flawed. There’s no reason to get defensive at comparisons or even roll my eyes at their stories.  

’Cause, ya know, my kids are smarter and cuter than theirs anyway. And three of them have red hair.