Category / Daughters

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 family opening presents.

1. CHANNEL SANTA CLAUS. Even though my kids have long since stopped believing in the man in the red suit, they still insist we can’t put any presents under the tree until after they go to bed on Christmas Eve. When I tell them it would be easier on their mother and me if we did, they protest, “But it wouldn’t feel like Christmas.” I guess it’s a testament to my wife’s and my dedication to being good parents that we oblige them, even though our middle-aged backs don’t relish the prospects of carrying loads of boxes up from the basement at midnight. My one demand for granting this wish is that the kids put out some milk and cookies for Santa. My always health-conscious wife advises the girls that “Santa only needs one cookie,” but I insist the girls put more than a few on the plate. Santa’s reindeer need a few treats to reward them for their efforts, too!

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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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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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Dad uses one shampoo, daughters many.

1. NARROWER PRODUCT SET. To wash my hair every morning, all I need is one brand of shampoo. But the shower rack my daughters use is stocked with one that promises “radiant color,” another that delivers “nutritive solutions,” and yet another that produces “luscious volume.” And that’s just the shampoos. Right alongside them are an equal variety of conditioners that provide “hair therapy,” “daily moisture,” and “multi-task repairs.” The females in my house clearly don’t use all of them at once, but I don’t know how they choose which ones to one apply on any given day. Maybe they like being able to go wherever their moods take them on a particular morning, or perhaps they have a defined system for cycling through all those options over the course of a week. All I know is that I’d be overwhelmed by that many choices. But perhaps I should be more open-minded and stock my medicine cabinet with a variety of shaving creams and gels that so I could have the option for “sensitive skin treatment” on one day,” “soothing aloe” on the next, and on the day after that, “extra moisturizing.” Sounds like a whole world of possibility opening up, followed immediately by the “whoosh” of a door shutting. Why? Because I know that is never going to happen.

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Blinders seem better than Google glasses.

1. ONE THING AT A TIME. I have never bragged about being a multi-tasker because I know I am wholly incapable of doing more than one thing at a time. If I’m reading or doing work at home, I need complete silence. Much to my kids’ disappointment, I can’t have music on in a room where I am trying to think because it’s too distracting. If someone tries to talk to me when I am concentrating, I inevitably respond with an annoyed look and tone. To send the appropriate signal when I am deep into single-tasking, I am seriously considering wearing the same kind of blinders that racehorses do. That’s why I am so excited that Google glasses might become a thing. If all the multi-taskers start wearing that ridiculous contraption, I am sure my wearing blinders won’t look so preposterous!

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Scene from A Few Good Men.

1. BETTER LEFT UNSAID. When it comes to finding out what goes on at high school parties today, Jack Nicholson on the stand in A Few Good Men might as well have been talking to me: “You want the truth. You can’t handle the truth!”

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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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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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