A lot of kids go through a vain stage. You know, when they can’t quite pass up the opportunity to surreptitiously check themselves out in the mirror? Where they spend ages on hair and clothes? It wasn’t terribly surprising then when Vanity entered this stage. He’s a good enough looking kid and naturally muscular. It was a little unexpected that he would take to this stage so hard though! I often joke, if I want to trap him in a room, I’ll put a mirror at either end.
How Vanity became Vanity
Vanity wasn’t always vain, though. Like most of the tribe at Zion Family Homestead, he grew up in the backwoods of Washington state. His Mom, Hurricane, moved a lot during his early years, and so he bounced from house to apartment for a good long while. He didn’t have to build any of them, though. Although he is his Mom’s only child, Hurricane is, as I have mentioned before, one of the most generous and charitable people I know, and took another under her wings that became, to one extent or another, Vanity’s “brother”.
His brother picked on him mercilessly, from all the stories I’ve heard. It certainly toughened him up, though it also taught him some lessons he could have done without.
As for his Vanity? A good Sister in our ward didn’t help that any when she approached him to model for her artwork. Artwork that was intended for, and now is, the cover of a book.
What Vanity likes
He’s in his later teen years, so you can probably guess a good deal of his likes: Cars, girls, muscles. Not necessarily in that order. Vanity likes to play up the redneck country thing at times, though he also enjoys dressing nice, and sometimes goes through horrible stages of dressing “thug”. It’s not a good look. He really likes to work out and usually doesn’t let a week go by without beating some personal record and telling everyone who will listen about it. He enjoys sports, though he hasn’t played any competitively outside of Church since he was little. Church basketball, however, has been fair game. He is a natural athlete and takes great pride in his “white-boy hops” (often leaping close to 2 feet vertically). He played Dungeons and Dragons with me and some friends for over a year and loved it. He’s definitely not as one sided as his name might suggest.
Vanity and the Gospel
Vanity joined the Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-day Saints through the waters of baptism in 2011. He was such a sweet kid, wanting to please and be a part of what was fast becoming so important in our lives and in the life of his favorite (only, though they were REALLY close) Aunt, Perfection. He really came into his own as a member of the Church once we moved out to the homestead, however. Once there, I was called into the young men’s program, and so could easily take Vanity to church events, mutual, and the like. He made a great group of friends who still love and look out for him now. I’m not entirely sure he knows how lucky he is to have them.
Vanity talks a big game, and he can be a real… teenager. Yet, at the same time, he can be truly soft-hearted. I especially like to watch him interact with small children (other than his cousins) as he treats them with a respect and tenderness that shows where his heart truly belongs.
Vanity on the Homestead
Vanity likes to chop firewood. All those work details for the young men’s organization seems to have rubbed off on him. Whenever he has to get back in Hurricane’s good graces, he gathers or chops firewood. Sometimes he does it for fun, sometimes to blow off steam. It’s one of his main contributions on the homestead because we do run through a fair bit of wood in the winter. He has other chores, too, which he dodges when he can. Teenager.
Nevertheless, he’s got a strong set of arms and when he can be convinced to put them to use in the family’s service (asking nicely works well, sometimes) he is a great asset.
He also enjoys terrorizing his cousins and their dog.
Vanity and Papa
To be honest, my relationship with Vanity wasn’t that great for much of his early childhood. It wasn’t that we didn’t like or care for one another but we hardly saw each other. Lala and I lived up in Tacoma, and Hurricane and Vanity down south. We saw each other for holidays and the like. One of the greatest blessings the gospel has given me is my relationship with Vanity. Things improved for us once we found the gospel and our family started slowly coming closer to roost. Things really improved when I was called into the young men’s organization in our current ward. Having that “reason” to spend time with Vanity allowed us to develop much more of a bond. Now, I’m his Seminary teacher, which is a lot harder on us both, but we still have that core of respect to lean back on that we so greatly need.
He is an amazing young man with the potential to become a great man and leader someday. I worry about him, as I suspect most grandfather’s worry about their grandchildren in today’s world. Sometimes I despair about the choices he makes, while other times I see the softer, more real, side of him that makes me smile proudly. He’s got a long way to grow, yet, but don’t we all? I look forward to one day to being able to tell everyone how much better than me my oldest grandson is.