Category / teenagers

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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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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Blogger with actors from Grumpy Old Men

1. TWO ROADS DIVERGING. As I proceed further into middle age, I now realize there are two paths you can take. The first is to remain young at heart and not resent the habits and tastes of the younger generations behind you as they gradually take over the world. My wife certainly seems to be traveling down this road. While others my age often complain about the young being so distracted by social media and their smartphones, they don’t know how to have real, look-you-in-the eye human interactions, she thinks it’s wonderful that technology has created new ways to connect that she believes don’t replace, but rather supplement, old forms of communicating. Of course, the other path one can take is to gradually transform into a crank, constantly lamenting about how far modern times fall short of the good old days. Yes, when I insist my oldest daughter has to turn off that “horrible” rap music she listens to or I wonder why some beautiful young person would cover their skin with tattoos, I realize I’m traveling on the path to grumpy old man-dom. I’m not sure whether I’ll ever be able to overhaul my opinions to the point that I could consider the “music” created by a rapper like Childish Gambino equal to the brilliance of Neil Young or Van Morrison, and as someone who grew up on George Carlin and Richard Pryor, I’ll probably never be able to muster more than a snarky, disapproving chuckle at the “humor” of YouTube sensations like Jake and Amir. But to avoid the risks of being perceived as nothing more than a disgruntled geezer, I have decided that when talking to my children I will no longer start sentences with phrases like, “In my day…” or “You kids today…” Baby steps.

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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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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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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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Photos of Cape vacation activities - beaches, hikes through marshes, fine restaurants

1. RESTORED AWARENESS. Beginning our traditional full week at a house on Cape Cod fills me with wonder at the breathtakingly clear blue skies, the warm temperatures complemented by balmy ocean breezes, the automatic de-stresser of lounging around in shorts and sandals – and the slow dawning remembrance of the fact that I’m really not that much of a beach guy.

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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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