Category / Fathers

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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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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Kids on school bus are scarier than a drill sergeant

1. SHARPER TONGUES. Now that the school year has commenced again, it is time to confront once more the startling reality: The kids on your children’s school buses could make the drill sergeant in Full Metal Jacket cry.

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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 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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Daughters in big-occasion dresses

1. NO REPEATS. Dresses my daughters select for formal dances may come into their lives with a bang, but they go out with a whimper. So these unsuspecting dresses should be forewarned: Just because you will help these girls earn all kinds of accolades, like “You look TOTALLY AMAZING!” and “You’re INCREDIBLY GORGEOUS,” doesn’t mean you won’t spend months at the bottom of their closets in a wrinkled heap. And when my eldest tossed a past prom dress into the bin we set aside for goodwill donations, she was dumbfounded when her cost-conscious father tried to rescue the poor thing. “Dad, what are you doing?” she asked. “Don’t you get that a big-occasion dress can’t be ever be repeated?!” (Trust me: she did not provide that information when I balked at the price tag.)

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Two girls with paternal and maternal grandfather.

1. TOUGH ACTS TO FOLLOW. Throughout our lives, my wife, kids and I have continually marveled at how loving, gentle, patient and devoted my father and father-in-law are. So on this Father’s Day, I have three things to say to my children’s grandfathers: 1. I love you both. 2. Thank you. 3. Why do you always set the bar for fathering so high? (Seriously, try to remember that I, unlike you, am not a member of “The Greatest Generation”!)

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Father and two daughers at a campground

1. S’MORES NO MORE. The days when my now teenaged daughters were willing to spend an entire weekend camping with their dad are long gone. As much attraction as fishing, canoeing and making S’mores by the campfire might have held, I’ve resigned myself to the fact that I can no longer compete with malls and the endless supply they provide of clothing stores, ice cream shops and boys. (So now the tent is stored deep in the garage — it and me hoping it can come out of mothballs when they have kids!)

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Yearbook photographs

1. YESTERYEAR YUKS. To counter my bathroom mirror’s sad daily evidence of how much I’ve aged, I try to take comfort in remembering what a handsome young lad (at least I imagined!) I used to be. Too bad the only support I have for that contention are my high school and college yearbooks. And breaking those out sends my teenaged daughters into fits of hysterical laughter. I have to believe when they look at my graduation photos, it’s just the high school leisure suit and big glasses that they find so ridiculous. But I don’t test that assumption. Age has brought me one good thing – the wisdom to know when not to ask questions.

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A daughter's wall posters evolve from boy musicians to beefcake.

1. SCARY HUNKS. Who knew pictures on a bedroom wall could be so intimidating? But I sure started to worry (okay, panic) when the posters in my daughters’ bedroom of fresh-faced prepubescent boy singers were taken down and replaced with square-jawed, manly actors with five o’clock shadows and scarily suggestive twinkles in their eyes. For my own peace of mind, I probably should have recognized that teasing sign on the door – “No parents allowed” – as wise advice.

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