1. NOT SO SECRET WEAPONS. Like most fathers, I operate under the illusion that I could serve as my daughters’ protector if anyone gave us any sort of trouble when we’re out together. But when our family recently went out to see a play, and my girls were dressed to the nines, I noticed nearly every one of their fingers were adorned with metal rings of intimidating density, adorned with stones of daunting size. Of course, if I carried around that much hardware, my hands would ache, but my daughters didn’t seem to mind having their fingers weighed down. And as we walked the streets of Boston, my 15- and 17-year-old girls left me feeling as secure as a Mafia don whose henchmen carry brass knuckles in their pockets.
2. DAILY CHECKLIST NEEDED. In my younger days, I would occasionally leave the house forgetting something, but now those situations occur far more often. Until I took action to remedy the situation, it seemed like at least once a week I was heading out to work leaving one essential item behind — my corporate badge, watch, or cell phone. Recently I installed a whiteboard by the door that I run through before I exit the house every morning. It has 11 items ranging from the must-haves, like wallet and keys, to good-to-haves, like eyeglass wipes and Kindle. This morning, I realized I needed to add another item — umbrella. Of course, I will happily keep adding to the list until I get to things like “shoes” and “pants.” By the time I need that much help, one thing will be perfectly obvious — I shouldn’t leave the house at all.
3. GOOD GENES. In a previous Dad Flash (January 3, 2015′s “Prone to Panic”), I wrote about how much cooler under pressure my wife is than I am (the horrible lost car keys on a ski slope incident!). I recently had a similar experience with my youngest. We were staying in a hotel but had to vacate the room for an hour while my wife was being interviewed by a radio show. My daughter and I decided to get some exercise — she in the pool and I at the health club. But we then discovered both areas required a room key for access, and I had forgotten our key cards back in the room. I immediately shouted in alarm “That stinks” and groaned, anticipating that we’d have to waste what could have been a productive hour with nothing to do. My daughter said “Daaaaad,” as If I were the silliest man on earth, “all we have to do is go to the front desk and ask for another one.” Oh yeah, right. Thank goodness for her that she got the equanimity and intelligence genes from her mother.
4. TIME & PLACE FOR EVERYTHING. When I’m away on business and I Skype with my kids in the evening, they don’t seem all that intrigued with my video image. They have far more fun watching the inset camera shot of themselves, as they cross their eyes and contort their faces into all sorts of silly expressions. Of course, it’s all good fun and gives me a good laugh. But it seemed ironic that the very next morning after our most recent Skype session, I sat next to an adult on the subway, who was contorting his face in exactly the same way. And what was my reaction? I pulled my briefcase in a little closer to my side and scooted down on my seat to get further away from him. Ah yes, so much about life is about setting and context, isn’t it?
5. OLD AS MY TEEN MAKES ME FEEL. Many previous Dad Flashes make reference to how old I am, which I know may seem silly to anyone who is north of my age and in their 60s, 70, 80s, or even (God bless you!) their 90s. But perhaps my complex about being over the hill is fostered by living with two teens and comments I regularly get from my eldest like this one, when I revealed I only use shampoo, not conditioner, on my hair: “Really, dad, that’s crazy. Why wouldn’t you take better care of your hair? Oh, but right, you’re old, so I guess it doesn’t really matter if you let yourself go.” Or this one: “Wait, the drinking age was 18 when you were a kid? God, you’re old. Did that got into effect when they lifted Prohibition. Were you alive then?” Of course, I probably shouldn’t take remarks like these too close to heart because she enjoys teasing and is a pretty good student of history, so I think (okay, hope) she knows that Prohibition was repealed 30 years before I was born. So that’s the conclusion I am going to live with: My daughter doesn’t really think I’m ancient, she’s just a good kidder! (Fingers crossed.)