Okay, I am not going to panic. I am going to stay cool and rational, because there is no need to get alarmed, just because my own son, who is only 6 years old and has no prior criminal record, came home the other day with a "punk"-style haircut featuring "spikes" of hair shooting straight up so that his head looks like some kind of reef creature striking a defensive posture.

This is what happens when you let your wife take your son to get a haircut. When I take him, I always stress to the barber that what my son wants is a "regular" haircut, which is defined as: "a haircut exactly like mine." I wear my hair in the classic, timeless style worn by the Monkees in their classic, timeless TV show, "The Monkees," still sometimes visible on cable TV. It is the kind of casual '60s hair style where all you need to do to get it ready to face the day is stick your head out the car window on the way to work. For many years this hair style has been good enough for me, and, after my son outgrew the Dwight Eisenhower style so popular with babies, it was good enough for him.

These were the Golden Years, when he was willing to let his parents make the major fashion decisions in his life. He was not what you would call style-conscious. His idea of really Decked Out was to go around in only a pair of Skeletor underpants and a visor with flashing colored lights powered by a nine-volt battery. (Skeletor is an individual with blue skin and red eyeballs who is always trying to get Castle Greyskull away from He-Man, who is an action figure built like Sylvester Stallone, only with more acting ability.)

But then came kindergarten, and our son was exposed to Peer Pressure. I first noticed it when I took him to the mall to get a pair of sneakers, assuming we'd get his usual style, the kind you close up with Velcro, a product that I think we can all agree ranks, in the hierarchy of Human Achievement, way up over the Sistine Chapel. But no. My son insisted that he had to have some fashionable high-top jobs that cost more than many of your smaller nations spend on defense, not to mention which they (the sneakers) have laces. This means my son has learned to tie his shoes All By Himself, which he does by creating an elaborate series of random unidentifiable knots throughout the course of the day, taking care to pull each one as tight as possible, so that by nightfall the only way you can remove the sneakers is with your GE Home Laser Appliance.

But I was not complaining, until my son came home one day and said he wanted a punk haircut. Fortunately, I am a liberal and sensitive and caring former space-cadet hippie, so I knew how to handle this. I sat him down and thoughtfully explained to him that although I personally did not care for the punk style of haircut, the real issue here was personal freedom of choice, and since it was, after all, his hair, then by golly, if he really, really wanted to, he could get a punk haircut just as soon as I have been dead for 45 years minimum.

I thought this honest sharing of feelings had settled the matter, so you can imagine my surprise when, about a week later, my son came bounding through the front door looking like Sid Vicious, followed by my wife, who was not the least bit apologetic, who in fact had bought my son a large tube of hair gel, which is the substance that gives punk hair styles that certain special "look" that says: "I just stuck my head in a barrel of transmission fluid."

My son is deeply into his haircut. He is constantly checking himself out in the mirror, feeling his spikes, re-gelling his hair. I'll say: "It's time for your bedtime story!" And he'll say: "Not now! I'm gelling my hair!"

And here is another disturbing thing. The gel tube has the following words printed on it:

"With Awapuhi"

I don't know what "awapuhi" means, but I don't like the sound of it one bit. It sounds like a primitive tribal word for you-know-what. ("Look, Womba! Tiger make awapuhi on trail!")

So that is the situation in my household. I am sitting alone in the bedroom, holding a copy of "Horton Hears a Who," and my son, the fruit of my looms, is in the bathroom smearing tiger droppings in his hair. The other day he told me he likes the Beastie Boys. I am looking forward to Old Age.