Category / Aging

Father working on computer while on train.

1. NOT SO HOSPITABLE. My youngest daughter recently took a train to New York city, and she described her process of deciding whom to sit next to if there were no row of seats she could have to herself. First, she looks for another teenaged girl, whom she assumes won’t mind having a kindred spirit by her side. Next, she looks for older women whose maternal instincts might prevent them from objecting to having a companion at their elbow for the journey. Finally, as a last resort, she’ll plop down next to a teenaged boy, as long as he looks like someone who won’t try to hit on her for the whole ride. I was shocked to learn that an older man in her father’s demographic wasn’t even in her consideration set. When I asked why, she explained, “Businessmen give you that annoyed look when you walk by their seat, like you’d better not dare to bother them while they work on their computers and phones.” I felt appalled that any man would glare so rejectingly at my daughter, until I remembered when I ride the train I probably use the same look to ward off other fathers’ teenagers.

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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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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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Family hanging ornaments on Christmas tree.

1. BULB CONFUSION. Every year, at this time of year, I remember that I forgot to follow through on the vow I made to myself the year before: take a quickie electronics course before Christmastime arrives so I won’t have to waste hours trying to figure out how to get all the bulbs on our tree to light up.

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Ice skating at a rink.

1. ROLLER DERBY ON ICE. From afar, the outdoor ice rink where my daughters and I go to skate can look like something out of a Currier and Ives card – people of all ages bundled up in coats, hats and mittens, having fun across the frozen surface, while onlookers lean on the walls of the rink, sipping steaming hot chocolates. Once you’re on the ice, though, it can feel like you’ve been dropped into a scene from the movie Slapshot …. (more)

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Family collage and celebrities who resemble each family member

1. APPROPRIATE CASTING. My family hasn’t done anything noteworthy enough for our lives to be made into a Hollywood movie (at least not yet!). Still, one afternoon, we decided to play the fun game of figuring out who would play each of us if we did. My kids decided the beautiful Ashley Judd could play their mom. We all agreed Jennifer Lawrence, with her sassiness and fun-loving spirit, was the ideal match for our oldest daughter, while the actress who plays the middle child on Modern Family would be perfectly suited for our beautiful and brilliant youngest. Surprisingly, my wife and daughters struggled to come up with a candidate for me, so I threw out a suggestion – George Clooney. That caused my eldest to let out a whooping laugh. When I asked why, she quickly recovered and told me, “He’s not handsome enough.” That one has a great future as a politician.

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Father misses when his daughters trick or treated.

1. TOUGH HOLIDAY TRANSITIONS. I’m not sure what was harder – Christmases after I stopped believing in Santa, or Halloweens after my kids’ stopped dressing up and trick-or-treating around the neighborhood. Probably the latter. And yes, it’s true, they still sometimes go to costume parties around this time of year, but when they head off to their friends’ homes for those, I don’t get to hold their hands leading them up to the house, reassure them if any other kids are wearing particularly scary get-ups, or most importantly (for me) get to steal any of the Reese’s peanut-butter cups or Butterfingers (my faves!), they might get as loot. But I realize my opportunities for such joy have not been completely lost. So yes, even though my daughters are still only in high school, I’m putting out the advance warning now to their future husbands, whoever they may be, so that they will have plenty of time to get used to the idea: Your kids’ maternal grandpa will be honing in on your chaperoning trick-or-treaters responsibilities!

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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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