Typical dad relaxing in recliner.

1. REMAIN BLISSFULLY IGNORANT. When you catch your wife watching you and then nodding to herself as if she’s just resolved something, if her response to your question of “Watcha thinking?” is “Nothing much,” you will undoubtedly be better off if you decline to probe any further.

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Dad has to be careful driving to protect daughter's make-up kit

1. CRITICAL SUITCASE. From movies, I know how carefully a military aide to the President guards the briefcase known as “the football,” which contains the codes to launch nuclear weapons. In our family, we have a case that is just as vigilantly protected – my eldest’s make-up kit. On a recent trip, it had its own seat in our car, and before we hit the road, she carefully strapped it in with a seat belt to make sure we would not jostle its precious contents – which she spends a fortune replenishing. At least our case can release good into the world – enabling my daughter to feel great about how she looks. (Of course, as her father, I believe she’s so beautiful she does not need any cosmetic embellishments, but I’ve come to accept the make-up-free look is not how her particular friend group rolls.) As instructed, I drove cautiously with that precious cargo in the back, feeling reassured that the only thing the contents of that important case have the capability to destroy is our family budget.

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Father and daughter touring college campuses

1. DIFFERENT MINDSETS. We squeezed in a couple more college tours this summer, and on every one it becomes immediately apparent that parents and prospective students approach these campus visits with distinctly different mindsets. Parents ask lots of questions: “Do graduates find jobs?”, “Do I have to pay tuition during co-ops?”, “Is the campus safe?” Kids rely more on their eyes to take everything in, assessing if the campus matches what they’ve come to expect from college movies, how far they’ll have to walk from dorm to class, and whether the other kids interested in the school seem “normal” or “weird” to them. With the adults present, they don’t pose many questions, except for that one kid who asks 20. That level of eagerness and the audacity to put it on display makes my daughter furtively roll her eyes at me. I shake my head in quiet commiseration, knowing better than to admit to her that at 18 I was that kid!

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Photos of Cape vacation activities - beaches, hikes through marshes, fine restaurants

1. RESTORED AWARENESS. Beginning our traditional full week at a house on Cape Cod fills me with wonder at the breathtakingly clear blue skies, the warm temperatures complemented by balmy ocean breezes, the automatic de-stresser of lounging around in shorts and sandals – and the slow dawning remembrance of the fact that I’m really not that much of a beach guy.

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Father trying to hurdle the messes kids leave around the house.

1. OBSTACLES EVERYWHERE. Clothes and books deposited on the stairs, apparently destined for the upstairs bedrooms. Nearly full juice boxes placed on the floor beside chairs. The doors of nearly every major appliance – dishwasher, washing machine, dryer – routinely left open. Mugs of forgotten cocoa perched precariously at the edges of tables. Instrument cases left smack dab in the middle of the living room floor. Sometimes I suspect my daughters are deliberately setting up an obstacle course around our house to see if I can make my way through it without spilling liquids or tripping over something. So far, my scores on the course are shockingly low.

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Pictures of blogger's mother, wife, mother-in-law and two daughters.

1. NOT SO PREPARED. All my life I have been surrounded by brilliant women. My mother’s prodigious memory enabled her to recall every detail of moments from our family’s past that I could barely recall. My big sisters share the same razor-sharp intelligence, and in my school days I benefited from their tutoring. My wife’s profound insights into what makes people tick helps me navigate every relationship in my life. My mother-in-law’s encyclopedic knowledge of an array of topics makes her as valuable a resource as Google. So did being surrounded by so much female brainpower prepare me for the next generation of women in my life — one quick-witted daughter and another scientifically inclined one who outsmart me at every turn? Simply put: IT ABSOLUTELY DID NOT!!!

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Father wearing red shirt, pink shorts

1. A DANGEROUS MIND. Last week, we dropped our oldest off at a two-week, pre-college session on fashion merchandising. While I am happy that our fashionista will have an opportunity to immerse herself in a subject matter she is so passionate about, I am worried about the impact this intensive training may have on me. She already gives me ruthless fashion critiques, although admittedly they are at times needed. . .

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father and daughter before lake at

1. NOT READY FOR THIS. We dropped our youngest off at camp last weekend. On the drive up to the middle of New Hampshire, I kept asking if she was nervous, but she assured me, “No, I’m just excited.” Except for a momentary look of hesitation when she had to step into a cabin full of unknown girls, she did seem perfectly fine. She is very independent and self-confident, so I’m sure she won’t get too homesick. But we did follow all the tips for forestalling homesickness – she packed a few familiar items from home and we had her list all the things she wanted us to send her in care packages. While it was easy to find those tips online, I didn’t find any for helping parents deal with kid-away sickness. Mine kicked in right about when we pulled out of the parking lot.

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father in the scale of human evolution

1. PREHISTORIC TERMS. Every time I say “junior high” instead of “middle school” or “stereo” instead of “sound system,” my daughters look at me as if I’m so ancient I belong somewhere between Neanderthal and Cro-Magnan man in that scale of human evolution.

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Babies not allowed to sleep in parent's bed, dog was.

1. CANINE SUPERIORITY. Our kids never slept in our bed. Not sure why the dog has to.

2. FLEXIBLE FEATURES. At the dinner table, my wife and daughters can entertain each other by arching one eyebrow, making their earlobes wiggle and flaring their nostrils. I feel horribly deficient for being capable of only one such trick – curling my tongue. No one is impressed.

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