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!)

2. CHILDREN ARE A TOUGH MIRROR. My oldest daughter is extremely observant (not always a good thing for me!). When I spend time with her, I learn a lot of things (not always flattering) about myself, such as: 1. I don’t chew gum right. “Dad, it’s weird. You chew gum like you chew food.” (Silly me, I didn’t realize the former required a separate and distinct masticating process!) 2. I complain a lot. After hearing me groan on errand runs about some minor mix-ups with a drugstore cashier and a dry-cleaning clerk, she started asking me at dinnertime, “Dad, who annoyed you today?” (And yes, there was more sarcasm than sympathy in her tone!) 3. She can never be as unhip as I am. She often teases me for using out-of-date expressions, like “jeepers,” but when I tried to get revenge by teasing her for saying to me,  “Get off your soapbox, Dad!”, she informed me that she can’t ever say anything unhip because of her age. “I’m young, so once I use an expression, it becomes hip.” 4. I can’t win. See all of the above!

3. QUICK REACTION. Whenever I trip going up the stairs in our house, I can’t stay sprawled out for long, not even to check for minor bumps or bruises. My youngest daughter’s first-floor bedroom is right by our staircase. I have to get up and right myself instantly before she gets a chance to whip out her phone and post a picture of me on Instagram. I already know I’m a klutz, I’d prefer not to have every eighth-grader in my hometown giggling about it.

4. WHO’S LAUGHING NOW? Remember how clever we Baby Boomers thought we were because our parents didn’t know how to change the clocks on their VCRs? Now when my 90-year-old father sees my daughter grab my smartphone out of my hands to show me how to use some highly advanced feature (okay, she insists turning off auto alert sounds is “totally basic”), my dad smiles, clearly enjoying the last laugh.

5. SIDELINE WARS. When my younger daughter is playing goalie in soccer and gets scored on, I find it difficult to not get angry if the opposing team’s parents become excessively boisterous in their celebration while my child’s head is hanging low. I find it harder to resist the urge — and so I don’t — to cheer even louder if my daughter scores a goal on one of their precious darlings. Even if the game ends in a tie score, which they often do, I march to the parking lot with my chest puffed out and head held high, knowing that in the competition for over-the-top parental celebrations, our team emerged as the victors for the day.

Father and two daughers at a campground
I don’t think any bribe I might offer could get them to do the same thing today.

Share your reactions or similar experiences.

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