Category / Technology

Fancy restaurant vs. a hot weiner joint.

1. THE FULL SPECTRUM. My children have been exposed to a full range of culinary experiences. They’ve dined in gourmet restaurants and adventurously tried foods I wanted no part of, like octopus. Thanks to their mother’s influence, they know how to use all of the many utensils at their settings and can pronounce any dish with a foreign language twist, like duck a l’orange, with the proper accent. Thanks to their dad, they’ve also visited dining venues at the opposite end of the spectrum. They’ve stood in long lines to order clamcakes and clear-broth, Rhode-Island-style chowder from windows of seaside take-out restaurants, and they’ve marveled at the skills of short-order cooks who can line buns up the full length of their usually tattooed arms to put together our order of hot wieners in assembly-line fashion. To their credit, our kids are entirely comfortable in both types of establishments. To me, that’s clear evidence we’ve raised them right!

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Collage of video stills.

1. RANDOM CULTURAL REFERENCE GENERATOR. When I’m riding in the car with my youngest, I never know what pop culture reference will suddenly enter her mind and send her into a fit of laughter. On a recent drive, within the space of 10 minutes, I heard her shout out, “Dee Dee, what are you doing in my la-bor-a-tory?” in the exaggerated, formal tone of Dexter from the cartoon series, Dexter’s Laboratory. A minute later, when we passed a former International House of Pancakes restaurant that now housed another business, she declared, “Nice try, IHOP,” in imitation of a College Humor video that features an actor from The Wire pretending to expose the scam behind the restaurant chain disguising its distinctive, gable-roofed buildings as anything but a pancake house. Minutes later, she began singing a snippet from a Vine video in which a little girl hilariously misinterprets the line from a Frank Ocean song, “a potato [apparently, it’s supposed to be a tornado] flew around my room before you came.” While I didn’t get any of these references until she explained them to me, I must say it was still a highly enjoyable ride. Being with her when she gets in one of these silly streaks is a bit like keeping company with a Magic Eight Ball. You never know want funny line you might get next, but each of them is curiously entertaining.

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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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Yes, I know having a child with a curious mind is a gift, and not just a responsibility, yes, I know, a gift!!

1. SORTA PERFECT. Our youngest daughter is one of those rare kids who, after asking for a telescope for Christmas, regularly used it as more than a coat rack. On a recent night, she asked me and my wife to join her on one of her astronomy expeditions. I thought it was a little nippy for stargazing but she and my wife convinced me to “have some fun,” so we ventured away from our-tree lined yard to the hill of a nearby cemetery for a better, unobstructed view of the sky. While my daughter fiddled for quite a long while, adjusting her focus, I kicked my feet to keep warm, and worried about our decision to bring our Yorkie past the “no dogs allowed” sign at the cemetery’s gate. Once she had her equipment focused, my daughter asked me to take a quick look. She had the scope trained on the moon, and all I saw was a slightly magnified version of the gray and white swirls I could see with the naked eye, but of course I told her, “Wow, cool.” When she took over, she exclaimed, “The Langrenus Crater and the Sea of Fertility are so clear, it’s amazing.” She looked ready to boil over, she was so excited. My wife, who had wisely wrapped much warmer than I, grinned to let me know this was one of those rare moments of parenting perfection that you had to fully savor, so I did, I really did for a full 10 seconds before another cool breeze made my shoulders shudder. Then I made what seemed a perfectly reasonable suggestion, “Hey, maybe it’s time to pack up and head back to where it’s warm.”

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Father and daughter talking with no electronics.

1. TOTAL ATTENTION. Nothing equals the joy that comes when you can have an uninterrupted conversation with your daughters at dinner because they forgot to recharge their smartphones.

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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 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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