1. SERENDIPITOUS TRENDSETTING. Having a fashionista in the house helps me gain all kinds of insights I never would have discovered on my own. Recently when my oldest daughter was sitting next to me, she pointed at my left hand and asked, “Why did you get a silver watch?” I didn’t, of course. My wife picked it out for me, based on my two criteria – that it be light-weighted and have a large day indicator (since I hate heavy accessories, can’t ever remember the date and can hardly see). Of course, I had no idea why my daughter would have any objection to this handsome new watch, so she had to explain, “It’s silver and your wedding band is gold. That’s mixing metals. I know that’s become a trend where some people think it’s okay, but I personally don’t like it.” Of course, pure laziness would prevent me from ever dealing with the hassle of returning my watch for a gold one. But I didn’t tell her that. No, I confidently insisted I was willing to stay on the cutting edge of fashion trends, which, I’ve now learned, is quite easy to do when you don’t have a clue what they are.
2. HEAVY LOAD. I threw my back out this week trying to lift something I should have known would have been too heavy for me to handle – my high-school daughter’s bookbag.
3. ADJUSTORS NEEDED. Given that I won’t let my kids protest when I walk into our den and lower the TV or sound system volume if they’ve had it too loud, I know I can’t complain when I’m cooking something on our gas stove, and my wife comes over to silently adjust the flame. After all, couldn’t we all benefit if wise souls came along more often in our lives to adjust our levels?
4. LIVING HISTORY. I thought when my daughter took American history, I’d have to rely on my memory of what I’d learned in textbooks thirty years ago to help her with her homework. And that is what I did when she studied the Revolutionary and Civil Wars. But then her class progressed to the second half of the 20th century. It was both rewarding and a little unsettling to find, when she started asking me questions like “Why were the Beatles so important in the 1960s?” and “Why did Nixon resign?”, that it was actually lived experiences, not my memory of textbooks, that I called on to help her understand HISTORY!*
5. LABEL ANXIETY. My health-conscious wife, whose mantra is “It’s good to know what you eat,” can’t appreciate that food labels are worse killjoys than the warnings on cigarette packs. I long for the days when I didn’t know my favorite BBQ sauce was loaded with high-fructose corn syrup. Can all this stuff really be that bad? I’m still around even though the chocolate chip cookies I ate for years had six grams of saturated fat. (You know, I think I’d better sign off now and go schedule that appointment to have my cholesterol checked.)
* Of course, if I knew the answers just from a textbook, I might have supplied quicker responses, like “Nixon resigned because of the Watergate scandal.” When you’ve lived through it, the answers tend to go on longer: “I remember sitting in the living room of the house my family had the year that we lived in Florida. I was just 14 and was so shocked to see the live news broadcast of him walking up the stairs to the helicopter that had landed on the White House lawn. He turned to the crowd and flashed the victory signs that were his trademark, while his wife, Pat, stood beside him, crying.” Fortunately, my daughter, who usually is eager to get her homework done, doesn’t mind when I meander!