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!”
2. SPIRITS EVERYWHERE. I’ve decided to stop scoffing at people who believe in ghosts. The goblins that come out when I wake up before everyone else and try to move about the house quietly exact their revenge by making every door slam shut, the stairs creak louder than ever and every coffee cup and vase I pass by to crash to the floor.
3. FLUID PERCEPTIONS. Don’t ask your kids what their friends think of you unless you’re ready to be humbled. But at least your “rep” is transmutable. Over the past six months, I’ve gone from being “The Fun Dad” to the “The Grouchy Dad” to “The Reliable Dad,” and then sadly — after one annoyed pronouncement to all of them, “If I text you that I’m outside the rink, ready to pick you up, I don’t expect to have to sit out here waiting for another half hour” — back to “The Scary Dad.”
4. BACK-UP SUPPORT. Considering how easily a father can provoke a teenaged daughter into telling him “You’re impossible!” before she races off and slams a bedroom door, it can be quite reassuring to have a spouse who is willing, at such moments, to offer a pat on the back and the calm reassurance, “It’s okay, I still like you.”
5. UNLIMITED MINUTES. Since the dawn of smart phones, I haven’t heard any more from those parents’ who use to brag about how effectively they managed to limit their kids’ screen time.