Yorkshire Terrier who obeys wife better than husband.

1. LOSING BATTLE. At times, I simply cannot stop myself from being jealous about the other man in my wife’s life — our Yorkshire Terrier, Jake. When I teased her this week about how much affection she showers upon the dog, she tousled his hair and explained, “How could you not love this little guy? He’s always in a good mood, doesn’t ask for much from me and always obeys my commands.” Okay, Jake, you win. There’s no way I can compete with all of that.

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Teens girls wear lots of rings.

1. NOT SO SECRET WEAPONS. Like most fathers, I operate under the illusion that I could serve as my daughters’ protector if anyone gave us any sort of trouble when we’re out together. But when our family recently went out to see a play, and my girls were dressed to the nines, I noticed nearly every one of their fingers were adorned with metal rings of intimidating density, adorned with stones of daunting size. Of course, if I carried around that much hardware, my hands would ache, but my daughters didn’t seem to mind having their fingers weighed down. And as we walked the streets of Boston, my 15- and 17-year-old girls left me feeling as secure as a Mafia don whose henchmen carry brass knuckles in their pockets.

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Fancy restaurant vs. a hot weiner joint.

1. THE FULL SPECTRUM. My children have been exposed to a full range of culinary experiences. They’ve dined in gourmet restaurants and adventurously tried foods I wanted no part of, like octopus. Thanks to their mother’s influence, they know how to use all of the many utensils at their settings and can pronounce any dish with a foreign language twist, like duck a l’orange, with the proper accent. Thanks to their dad, they’ve also visited dining venues at the opposite end of the spectrum. They’ve stood in long lines to order clamcakes and clear-broth, Rhode-Island-style chowder from windows of seaside take-out restaurants, and they’ve marveled at the skills of short-order cooks who can line buns up the full length of their usually tattooed arms to put together our order of hot wieners in assembly-line fashion. To their credit, our kids are entirely comfortable in both types of establishments. To me, that’s clear evidence we’ve raised them right!

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The Persuader superhero along with collage of family.

1. REVEALING SUPERPOWERS. One evening over dinner, my daughters and I discussed what superpower we each would want if we were only allowed one. My youngest wanted the power of telekinesis, as she explained because, “That way, I wouldn’t have to get out at bed at night to turn off the light or brush my teeth, I could just command the light-switch to flip to off or the toothbrush to come into my room and brush my teeth without me even having to get up.” That decision made me wonder if her current schedule of school, piano and trumpet lessons, and debate team might be taxing her a little too much. I said I’d like the power to tele-transport the way the characters in Star Trek did, a desire that surprised no one given how much I complain about how expensive airline tickets are. My oldest said she would like the powers of the Persuader, so she could talk people into doing whatever she wanted them to. That seemed like a wasted wish because it would be entirely superfluous. With her father at least, she seems to be in full possession of that skill already.

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Collage of video stills.

1. RANDOM CULTURAL REFERENCE GENERATOR. When I’m riding in the car with my youngest, I never know what pop culture reference will suddenly enter her mind and send her into a fit of laughter. On a recent drive, within the space of 10 minutes, I heard her shout out, “Dee Dee, what are you doing in my la-bor-a-tory?” in the exaggerated, formal tone of Dexter from the cartoon series, Dexter’s Laboratory. A minute later, when we passed a former International House of Pancakes restaurant that now housed another business, she declared, “Nice try, IHOP,” in imitation of a College Humor video that features an actor from The Wire pretending to expose the scam behind the restaurant chain disguising its distinctive, gable-roofed buildings as anything but a pancake house. Minutes later, she began singing a snippet from a Vine video in which a little girl hilariously misinterprets the line from a Frank Ocean song, “a potato [apparently, it’s supposed to be a tornado] flew around my room before you came.” While I didn’t get any of these references until she explained them to me, I must say it was still a highly enjoyable ride. Being with her when she gets in one of these silly streaks is a bit like keeping company with a Magic Eight Ball. You never know want funny line you might get next, but each of them is curiously entertaining.

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Father bundles up in winter, daughter wears summer clothes.

1. NOT SO TOUGH. My daughters and I have decidedly different responses to single-digit temperatures. They leave the house with whole patches of skin exposed to the elements, while I wrap myself from head to toe in double layers. I don’t know if it’s because I’m not as tough as they are, or just a whole lost wiser. For my ego’s sake, I’ll go with wiser.

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Collage of man and dog resemblance.

1. PET TWIN. I know it’s a common observation that people look like their pets, but it was still a shock to me when my daughters saw a recent picture my wife had taken of our dog and said, “That looks just like Dad!” Of course I don’t see any resemblance between my physiognomy and a Yorkshire Terrier’s, but I am a little worried that others might draw the same conclusion my daughters did. At 54, I’m too settled with my looks to consider any extreme makeovers that might make me appear less canine-like, but I have made one important change. I no longer complain about the expense when my wife takes our dog to a professional groomer. I am suddenly very invested in making sure our little Yorkie always looks his best.

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Blogger with actors from Grumpy Old Men

1. TWO ROADS DIVERGING. As I proceed further into middle age, I now realize there are two paths you can take. The first is to remain young at heart and not resent the habits and tastes of the younger generations behind you as they gradually take over the world. My wife certainly seems to be traveling down this road. While others my age often complain about the young being so distracted by social media and their smartphones, they don’t know how to have real, look-you-in-the eye human interactions, she thinks it’s wonderful that technology has created new ways to connect that she believes don’t replace, but rather supplement, old forms of communicating. Of course, the other path one can take is to gradually transform into a crank, constantly lamenting about how far modern times fall short of the good old days. Yes, when I insist my oldest daughter has to turn off that “horrible” rap music she listens to or I wonder why some beautiful young person would cover their skin with tattoos, I realize I’m traveling on the path to grumpy old man-dom. I’m not sure whether I’ll ever be able to overhaul my opinions to the point that I could consider the “music” created by a rapper like Childish Gambino equal to the brilliance of Neil Young or Van Morrison, and as someone who grew up on George Carlin and Richard Pryor, I’ll probably never be able to muster more than a snarky, disapproving chuckle at the “humor” of YouTube sensations like Jake and Amir. But to avoid the risks of being perceived as nothing more than a disgruntled geezer, I have decided that when talking to my children I will no longer start sentences with phrases like, “In my day…” or “You kids today…” Baby steps.

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Family sharing a dessert.

1. SHORT RESOLUTIONS. Okay, one of my New Year’s resolutions is already broken. To work on getting my body mass index into the healthily fit and not just acceptable range, I had vowed to cut out all desserts. But last night, my family and I shared a slice of tiramisu at an Italian restaurant. I suppose I could kid myself into believing that eating just a quarter of a dessert doesn’t constitute a real breaking of a vow. But rather than cling to any false victory, I will take full pride in this year’s honestly gained achievement. I went a full 42 hours before breaking a resolution. So for me 2015 sets a record for determination and self-discipline that I’ve never reached before!

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Collage of mother and father with two daughters

1. STATISTICS MUST LIE. For years, I have kept a daily exercise journal. For me, doing so has been a great source of motivation to help me get off the couch. And at this time of year, I get to see if I’ve made my goal of running or walking at least 1,000 miles for the year. Sadly, for 2014, I didn’t reach that mark, and in looking back at my records for the past few years, I’ve noticed a steadily sloping decline in the miles that I’ve been able to get in each year. So all that telling data has helped me reach one of my resolutions for next year. I’m going to stop keeping records!

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