1. UNNEEDED PRESENCE. It could not be possible that I spent only five minutes with my eldest on her 17th birthday. My sole responsibility on this big occasion was to drive her to a hotel where she spent the night celebrating with her friends. It made me long for the days when I had to contend with 25 screaming girls at a roller-skating rink or Build-A-Bear store. Did I really feel that I had to “endure” those 90-minute squealfests? Did I not see this day coming?

2. PARED DOWN. I know some of my favorite stuff will have to go soon when my wife comes home from Barnes & Noble with a stack of coffee-table books on minimalist lifestyles.

3. UNKNOWN LANGUAGES. When my daughters do homework with each other, they speak two languages that are completely foreign to me – Spanish and math. Given that my own education comprised 12 years of math and zero of Spanish, it is both surprising – and more than a little sad – that phrases like, “Tengo hambre y quiero comer más,” are just as impenetrable to me as, “You can’t use factoring to solve a quadratic equation that’s not rational.” Too bad they don’t sell Math-to-English dictionaries.

4. BUTTERING UP. Eating movie popcorn without butter is no fun unless you remember to earn points by telling your wife how grateful you are that she watches your cholesterol.

5. ERA NOMENCLATURE. My buddies since high school and I divide our now nearly four-decades-long friendship into phases based on the music we were obsessed with at the time. There was the Jethro Tull period, followed by early Springsteen, succeeded by the long-running Frank Zappa reign. Overhearing my oldest daughter’s conversation with her friends, I discovered they do the same according to their make-up application strategy. The inaugural all-pink period was followed by a minimalist bottom-eyeliner-only approach, that was then supplanted by a pink and purple eye shadow era. The obvious current approach is to clear Sephora of every available product line. Just as we men had phases we’d prefer to have everyone forget (the short-lived fondness for mid-80s hair bands did none of us proud), the girls also have regrettable epochs. Apparently, the seventh-grade, bottom-eyeliner-only choice was not a good look for anyone.

Daughter's independent birthday celebration.
I was once a critical part of my daughter’s birthday celebrations. Now, not so much.

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