Category / Marriage

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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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 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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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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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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Babies not allowed to sleep in parent's bed, dog was.

1. CANINE SUPERIORITY. Our kids never slept in our bed. Not sure why the dog has to.

2. FLEXIBLE FEATURES. At the dinner table, my wife and daughters can entertain each other by arching one eyebrow, making their earlobes wiggle and flaring their nostrils. I feel horribly deficient for being capable of only one such trick – curling my tongue. No one is impressed.

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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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Father is trendy too

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…

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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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