Category / Fashion

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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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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Daughter decorated her dad's car in pink.

1. UNCOMFORTABLE MAKEOVER. Since my oldest is ready to get her license, I made a serious mistake – deciding to share my car with her, given that I rarely use it during the week. Somehow she read “share” as own, so she gave the car’s interior a makeover. Now there are hot pink covers on the steering wheel and rearview mirror, and pink dice dangling from the mirror, which she hung because “they’re so tacky, they’re ironic.” On weekends when it’s my turn to “share” the car, I drive it wearing the same gear celebrities in disguise do — sunglasses and a baseball cap pulled as low as it can go — and I always keep a vigilant eye out for cars filled with my daughters’ friends. If I pulled up alongside one of those, it probably wouldn’t take long for a picture of me driving the teen-girl mobile to show up on some social media site. Those dreaded paparazzi are everywhere!

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Father in cargo shorts with a fanny pack.

1. KANGAROO WEAR. Sometimes I carry a lot more gear than my pants have pockets for — not just the standards of keys, wallet and cell phone, but also prescription sunglasses, the current book that I might be reading, and an old iPod now that my iPhone storage has all been used up (amazing how quickly 16 gigabytes goes, isn’t it?) I have not yet found the perfect solution for transporting all this equipment “on my person” — though the search is critical given how costly it is to replace most of those items. My wife bought me a man purse, which I felt confidently metrosexual enough to try for a while, but it felt too cumbersome and too susceptible to the same risk we’ve faced with my wife’s (leaving it on the back of a restaurant chair). On a recent Saturday, when my family planned to head off for a day trip to Newport, Rhode Island, I came up with what I thought was a brilliant, multi-pocket solution — cargo pants and a fanny pack. But when my fashion-conscious oldest saw me in that get up, she was aghast and told me, “Dad, if you leave the house looking like that, I refuse to be seen with you.” Of course, I didn’t heed that warning. So that afternoon as we strolled the shops on Thames Street, she kept 10 paces behind me, which spared me from hearing requests like, “Dad, can I have 10 bucks to get one of those specialty cupcakes?” or “Dad, can I have 20 bucks because I just saw the most amazing earrings in that shop window?” So, all in all, donning my fashionista-repellent wear worked out perfectly for one of us.

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PicFrame (52)

1. PITY APPRECIATED. My youngest is such a gentle soul, I can never tell if she takes walks with me because she genuinely enjoys spending time with her old man or if she simply recognizes when her father is in desperate need of some filial attention. (My wise wife’s advice at such times: Why question her motives? Just enjoy the walk!)

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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, she’s so beautiful she does not need any cosmetic embellishments, but I’ve accepted 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 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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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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