P is for Paul, Katae’s Paul

Eccentric at a formal dinner.

I used to think I was open-minded. Then I had teenagers. And they were… let’s just say their tastes veered into the eccentric. My kids, my first two, simply would not play by the rules. And by rules I meant wearing dresses and liking it, using utensils at formal dinners, begging to sing in the church choir or at least running the soundboard…

I believed with all my heart I was completely nonjudgmental. Book covers meant nothing. It was the inside that counted. I was so avant-garde and educated and free thinking–

Enter my daughter’s boyfriend, Paul.

Paul was a walking Picasso painting: you weren’t exactly sure how to take him. The first time I met him was homeschool theater class. Paul was ten years old and a holy terror with a ton of talent– that’s what I remember.

In his teens Paul dressed in loosely fitting black clothing that hung off him like his many silver chains. He was funny, flamboyant, sassy, rebellious, creepy… That’s him in the middle.

… and he came to church at 7AM on Sundays to make enough coffee to fill the Boston Harbor. (That’s what it took to slake the thirst of Grace Churchgoers every Sunday.) So here’s the grim reaper barista and he’s in love with my firstborn daughter. Turns out I wasn’t as open-minded as I thought.

One day I was trundling around my homeschool book sale, chatting with moms and feeling all righteous and Rocky Balboa about my calling to educate my children… like I had holy dust scattered in my hair, so homschool-proud. I was talking to an ultra-conservative friend whose tastes (I thought) ran Amish, when who should sally up to us? Jack Sparrow/my son-in-law.

Love those moments when a freight train full of my own self-righteousness runs me down. Jack’s scream there, that’s how I felt upon seeing Paul, dressed for Halloween in June, at my homeschool book sale. My “Amish” friend thought Paul’s theatrics fun and creative and, hadn’t I better loosen up?

Those who know me, know I have.

Katae and Paul live in a lovely house they make lovelier by the day. Paul’s a visionary and super-handy, and Katae has an artful sense of style. They’re living happy-ever-after with their five cats, two dogs, one lovebird, and lots of love.


This goes out to Justin Smith, by request. “P” is not for PERFECTIOSIS. P is for Paul.

Posts about my other children: Katae, Tory, Luke, Gabe.

8 thoughts on “P is for Paul, Katae’s Paul

  1. That’s awesome. We all think ourselves open-minded…until we have kids and they interact with other kids. Still, any boy that comes near my daughter has to survive a super-ninja-death-match to be even considered in the slightest. Unarmed. 😀

      1. Probably sooner than I would like. Already has a “boyfriend”. Thankfully, just a kid that likes bad jokes. She told me his jokes are just as bad as mine. So, he has that going for him. 🙂

  2. Anonymous

    Loved this! We are so blessed to have Katae as our daughter-in-law… and we are so glad you fell in love with Paul too. The Jack Sparrow part cracked me up. Justin looks forward to reading your posts, new and old. I think you are inspiring him (and me). 😉 Diane

    🤔… it was funny and a great way to put Paul in perspective. 😈 is how I see paul, or how I used to. Jack sparrow is another way to see him.😁 (Justin)

  3. Love this post! It brings back memories . . .
    I had one of those black chain, white hair with blue tips teenage sons challenging my open-mindedness in our conservative homeschool group. One mom encouraged me by saying, “artistic kids’ clothing is often an expression of their art.” Another told me, “Seeing the way your son Dennis dressed made us feel welcome in the group.” Today at age thirty, my Dennis wears a dress shirt and tie to work daily and likes it! Go figure.

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