Sunday night we were sitting at dinner-if you call Jalapeno fries and Lagunitas IPA at Schooners “dinner”- when Rene’ came up with a very traditional and maternal idea (not); an idea that would build family unity and solidarity (not) while creating even stronger bonds among all our family members (not). You’ve probably guessed it by now – she requested that all of us get an Urbanovich family tattoo, a simple “U” inked on any body part of our choice. For those who know me or read my blogs, it is no surprise when I tell you that I am not a tattoo guy –I have never even been remotely tempted to do so. Why? There are quite a few reasons that you can read here, yet I can summarize most fittingly with the word, “change,” as in I change too much and too often to like anything I would ink on my body after, say, about 3 months, tops. But this tattoo idea intrigued me. Turning 51 has softened my outlook on tats. Hell, I am in the early fourth quarter in the game of life and this skin ain’t going with me to the locker room. Yet, still, there is no symbol, art, picture, or concept I would want permanently on my body. However, a simple U inked on any body part of my choice? I could potentially live with that. So I immediately went to the Urbanovich Family Text Zone –the UFTZ (that is a different blog for a different day) where the Urbs communicate on a somewhat daily basis about all kinds of bullshit, share funny pictures, whatever…and I sent the following: I forewarned Rene’ precisely what would happen. In short, there is no way in hell we would all agree to do this. “I disagree with you, Jimmy,“ responded Rene’, “I am their mother and it is a special request from me. Besides, they can put it anywhere on their body…it can be hidden.” I further explained that the reason they would not agree would be because we did an excellent job parenting (if I do say so myself). One of our family values we wanted to impart to our once young children growing up was that of individuality; the idea to be individually strong, develop powerful personal identities and to cultivate a very personal and unique voice in the world. And we accomplished that. Almost too well. Whether you are their mother or anyone else, my children will simply not do what they do not want to do and if they want to do something? Best just move aside and not risk getting injured. The UFTZ responses started pouring in. The first response was entirely expected: “Ok” That was easy. Yet it also comes from a family member in which “risk, adventure, challenge, and change” are some of his many middle names. The second response was not quite so agreeable, to say the least: “Absolutely not. Sorry.” What did I tell you? This family member has friends who are tatted up one side and down the other. As one who eventually wants to be a successful businessman, he realizes the downside of permanent markings. I must say I agree with him. The third response was somewhere in the middle, yet perhaps the most “collectivist” minded of all: “I’LL DO IT BECAUSE I LOVE YOU. And because external manifestations of the internal are powerful! I love it and I hope you change your mind ‘other family member.’” Hmmmm. That is sweet and what I would expect from this artistic and expressive child. Now on to the fourth response. And this was just the short introduction to her well thought, wonderfully crafted and quite reasonable dissertation on Society and Tattoos via UFTZ. We get it. Again, like the other disagreeing sibling, I tend to agree with her. So what is the Urb clan to do? It does not look like the fam will get unifying tattoos anytime soon yet it does teach an excellent lesson about life and choices: For every honorable trait there lurks a potential not-so-favorable consequence. For the one who is courageous, there is the danger of trying something courageously stupid and getting courageously hurt. For the person who perseveres through good times and bad, there is the chance of not getting out of something while one still can and cut the losses. For those who take full responsibility for their actions, there is chance of becoming a compulsive control freak and not roll with the ebbs and flows of the universe. All wonderful traits, all with unintended consequences. So it goes with our family value of individuality. It has a wonderful upside that I believe in strongly. Yet, often we individuals (and yes I am TOTALLY an individual) do not always make great team players and often value our own identity over the sake of the collective. And I would have it no other way. I love my family dearly…I embrace each one of my children’s strengths and flaws and I respect when their “yes” means “yes” and their “no” means “no.” So as mom and dad converse over their Jalapeno fries and Pale Ale while attempting to soothe their own personal transitions to an empty nest with some different ideas, we celebrate this disagreement concerning the Urb family tattoo -as it speaks volumes more about the character of the clan than any skin deep ink possibly could.