Last week we drove to Waco and picked up our son, Zack, from college.


He just finished his first year of school.

We loaded the boxes in the car in the pouring rain and packed the few pieces of furniture that he had left and waved goodbye to his dorm room and headed home for the summer.

Another chapter is done.

Another chapter is finished. And as we stood there in the dormitory parking lot and I watched the excitement on his face and the raindrops dripping off the brim of his hat and his barely contained energy just waiting to take on the world, a little piece of my heart sobbed.

I’m not sure when or where or how it happened, but a man now stood tall and proud and strong where a twinkling-eyed boy once was.

And so today, to celebrate this chick that just returned (albeit so briefly) to the nest, I wanted to share with you one of my favorite stories of growing up.

It’s all about confidence and belief in yourself…

….and the amazing power of a really good hair flip.

This bedroom is where all the stinky socks and stinky shoes in our house live along with mud tracks and basketball shoes and drum sets and algebra books and track uniforms and baseballs.

And plenty of testosterone.


It’s a whole other world.

When they were younger, Zack, one of the stinky sock boys came home from middle school one day with a disgruntled look on his face.

As he walked into the room, he didn’t really didn’t say anything. Instead, there was a lot of consternation and sighing and eye rolling and hair flipping for dramatic effect. I think he was waiting for someone to ask him what all the angst was all about.

I said nothing.

Instead, I got my popcorn and sat and waited patiently for the drama to unfold.

Finally, he turned to me with a woebegone expression on his face….

….and a flip of his hair.

“Mom….you are never going to believe it.  This girl….ummm….she stopped me by the lockers and told me that she liked me.”

I paused.

“Really?” I said. “A girl told you that she liked you?” I questioned with an attempt at complete nonchalance. I find that in these types of situations—nonchalance is the best approach for getting the most information possible.

“She stopped you by the lockers?  What did you say to her?”

He stared at me in disbelief.

“Are you serious?  I didn’t say anything. What do I say to something like that? I just turned and walked away.”

“Hmmm”  I said with another nonchalant shrug. “Probably a wise decision.”

He nodded in agreement.

Then he flipped his hair again and continued on with his tale of trial and tribulation.

“But you haven’t even heard the worst part yet,” he snorted.

“There’s more?” I asked patiently.  “What could be worse than a girl telling you that she liked you by the lockers?”

He flipped his hair again and patted it back into place with an air of satisfaction and slowly craned his neck to catch a glimpse of his flipped hair in the window.

I waited patiently for the hair flipping to stop.

“What happened next?” I asked.

He paused and announced, “And then? You are NOT GOING TO BELIEVE IT. When I was about to get on the bus one of her best friends told me that she liked me, too.” And with that dramatic pronouncement, he flopped down on the couch in despair holding his head in his hands.

Mournfully he looked up at me with all the angst of a stinky sock boy and let out a sigh.

“Mom….I’ve got problems.”

He paused, then flipped his hair once more and continued, “Lately….I really think….

…..that this hair is lethal.”


Our construction budget increased that middle school year.

We had to enlarge all the door frames so his stinky socks and hair flipping ego could fit through. 🙂

PS I found this picture of Zack right about the hair flipping stage.

Here he is now.

A little older with a little less hair to flip. 🙂

PPS You can see all the sources for this room on my Shop My House page.

Want to know how to decorate your home for free?
Click here to get my FIVE BEST secrets.


  1. Image for Cheryl Cheryl

    When my oldest son was in college, he called me with a similar problem. He had about three girls interested in him. After telling me all about it, he asked me to fix it for him. At that point, I kindly let him know that there wasn't much I could do and reassured him that he would be fine on his own. He chose one and now they have five beautiful children, one dog, and a whole lot of drama of their own!

  2. Image for Susan Susan

    I have been waiting for my book I was supposed to get one last year but never did, maybe its because I'm in Canada??

  3. Image for Calypso in the Country Calypso in the Country

    First of all, he's adorable! Second, I wish my boys would tell me things like that. They are 15 and almost 13 and for a very short period of time, I would hear those type of stories. Now, for some reason they won't tell me who likes them or who they like. Why do they have to grow up so fast? Enjoy every moment of having him home for the summer! Shelley

    1. Image for Becky Becky

      Karianne is absolutely correct. I have four sons and get very little information, but when I do get a nugget, I try to be as nonchalant as I can pretend. The oldest has recently confided in me and they have all witnessed that I was not quite as cringey as expected, so hopefully they will remember this in the future.

  4. Image for Marlene Stephenson Marlene Stephenson

    He is a little cutie that has grown into a nice young man. Love this cute story. I have two sons they are grown men now but i can remember lots of "serious" talks.

  5. Image for Lori Howard Lori Howard

    Congrats on getting the first year down. Loved the story and to believe he made it out of high school being liked by a few girls..what's a boy to do?!..Lol..Looks like he's doing great! Good job mom! I'd be proud:0)

  6. Image for Gwen Gwen

    Well darn, if I was (or is that “were”) his age, I just might tell that handsome young man the same. Love your sweet story. My son never told me those things, but the girls told me they liked him.

  7. Image for Laura Laura

    This is a face! My boys are in between Zach’s age. My younger son graduates on Sunday. It’s all about the hair flip this spring! Congratulations on year 1. Laura in CO

  8. Image for Deb in Oklahoma Deb in Oklahoma

    Oh, Lordy, that made giggle. Sometimes those oh-so-serious adolescent observations that offer a tiny glimpse into their world are just what you need to hear to keep everything in perspective. I remember liking boys because they had great hair (among other qualities), but it probably started with a hair-flip.

  9. Image for Regina Merrick Regina Merrick

    Well, he DOES have good hair! LOLOL!! Love this story! Congrats on finishing year one of college! (yes, I congratulate the parents, especially when it's just year one of SO MANY packing-up-and-moving-home events!) Enjoy having your nest full for the summer!

  10. Image for belinda belinda

    He is a very handsome young man and I'm sure ya'll have raised him to be a fine gentleman and that is why all the young ladies will continue adore him!

  11. Image for Leslie Watkins Leslie Watkins

    Goodness. You had me at the dorm pickup. I so remember those. But the hair flip. Memorable moments of middle school with boys. I just left a middle school grand in Boise. The struggles. The things that produce hair flips and eye rolls and concern. Oh, my. But treasuring those moments—from hair flips to college days—hold dearly, sweet friend.❤️

  12. Image for Dee Dee

    If my stars, that's the cutest story! Hold on to each moment, they ship so quickly away. BTW, really great Mommy skills when he was sharing his angst!

  13. Image for Kris Kris

    Well, he's stinkin' adorable, so I'm sure there are lots of female hearts that go pitter-patter. What a fun story. And you are right ... the more nonchalant you are, the more info they spill (although I find that my girl is more likely to tell me juicy details like that than my son is).


    Thanks for the morning laugh and cry!!!!!!!!!!!!!He is adorable, especially those twinkly eyes!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!It is so great that you write these stories so that you will always have a way to remember these times!!!!!!!

  15. Image for Jenn Jenn

    I love this story! My two oldest are boys 16 and is so much fun! With a large family people always used to warn us about the teenage years..."oh just wait until they are teenagers", people would say ominously. The truth is, it's fun! Stinky socks and all! Sure there are new challenges, but as you keep listening to their stories and laughing at their jokes, you find a new level to the relationship and it is so good! Thank you for sharing optimism about the teen years!

  16. Image for Darlene Darlene

    Oh he sure is handsome, love that story. I have two grown sons and four grown in their twenties grandsons. They are the best things in life, just adore those boys. Have two granddaughters as well which hold a special heart corner that is different from theboys.. Love to sit and hear their stories. Just enjoy them as the time is fleeting.

  17. Image for Detra Coley Detra Coley

    Oh my gosh! KariAnne, I remember the hair flipping stage and the comment about his hair being lethal. I'm about to fall out of my chair. But this good looking man, where did he come from? You've only been gone what, two years? No traces of that hair-flipping boy left. Bless your heart!

  18. Image for Sandi from the Cape Sandi from the Cape

    Such a handsome young man, he's in serious trouble, and're going to be jealous! Good luck!

  19. Image for karen karen

    OH my word ! He is so handsome ! And I can tell from the smile he has a sweet heart, and to top it off , really good hair. I bet many girls like him now =)

  20. Image for Kathy Kathy

    I love your stories! I can so relate. Makes a little tear well up in my eyes remembering my own little boys who now stand so tall. Your son is darling. I'm sure he has a lot of girlies liking him. And I'll bet he feels a little different about that these days!

  21. Image for Michele M. Michele M.

    Oh he just so cute! What a great smile - sure gets that from his nonchalant mamma. : - ) My niece just finished her first year of college - we have many similarities with ages with my nieces and your children about the same ages - which is fun cuz then I can share. My two girls are old now, which makes me old as Moses, but hey, who is counting, right? Anyway, Zack is a doll and the Bieber years were certainly hair flipping days to be sure. ♥ (On that note I will say my nephew (bro of afore mentioned niece) did the Beebs style and once everyone was doing it he decided to just let it grow - and holy moley it grew really long and amazing - thick gorgeous auburn hair - got voted best hair senior year, haha - and just before he graduated and was interviewing for his dream job he cut it nice and tidy. His parents were elated - and he got the job of his dreams! So hair, the power of hair is not to be under estimated. Have a great weekend. Hugs.

  22. Image for Cheryl Cheryl

    What a wonderful story!! Made me laugh and what we thought back in our school days as drama! Have a great weekend and so glad your son is back for a while.

  23. Image for Carrie Carrie

    Love the stories you share. Thank you!!! My son does NOT have the hair your son does, but this momma loves his thin hair all the same....tell Zach that he is SO LUCKY with that hair!!! :)

  24. Image for Nita Nita

    He's such a handsome young man! I can hear the young ladies sighing right now! My grandsons, who are graduating this year (cousins), also do the hair flipping until one mother made hers get it cut! lol College in the fall for both.

  25. Image for Christiann Christiann

    I love this story and it brought back a memory that I forgot. When my youngest son was in middle school he went to a dance. After he came home he told me that when he and Cassie (a classmate) were dancing she told him she liked him.. and yes, nonchalantly I replied “What did you say to her?” His answer (and I can still his voice) was, “Oh” . In my head I just want to laugh but I only reply “oh” !

  26. Image for Kimberly Kimberly

    Who steals our boys and leaves us men? Mine is nineteen and out on his own. When I see him after months apart, there is a mixture of pride and confusion. *sigh*

  27. Image for Sandi from Wisconsin Sandi from Wisconsin

    Your son is beautiful on the outside, and I'm sure inside, also! But what does one expect, with two parents such as you and your husband. Congratulations on raising a wonderful son!

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