1. A DANGEROUS MIND. Last week, we dropped our oldest off at a two-week, pre-college session on fashion merchandising. While I am happy that our fashionista will have an opportunity to immerse herself in a subject matter she is so passionate about, I am worried about the impact this intensive training may have on me. She already gives me ruthless fashion critiques, although admittedly they are at times needed. (With regard to the now infamous — in our family — incident when I put on pink short pants with a red T-shirt, all I can say in my defense is that I had to get out of bed early to drive her somewhere, they were the nearest clothes I could grab, and I would never have had to get out of the car so no one but her would have seen me. But she refused to let me leave the house in that get-up.) So naturally I have some doubts about whether it was wise to arm her with more expert information. When I admitted this to her in the presence of her grandmother, my mother-in-law reassured me, “I am sure your charming daughter will find tactful ways to impart her new wisdom to all of us.” Hearing that, my daughter grinned mischievously and told me, “No, Dad, you should be afraid, very afraid.” Duly noted because I am, I really am.
Apparently, looking like a cult member in a rather monochromatic
pink/red combination is an even bigger offense than the “groutfits”
I was warned against, as noted in the March 15, 2014, Dad Flashes.
2. CAREFREE TIME. Our kids’ sleep-away camps overlapped last week, and my wife and I couldn’t remember the last time we’d been kid-free for such an extended period. After dinner each night, I could settle into a comfy chair to unwind from work without anyone immediately asking me, “Want to drive us to get fro-yo?” When I had one of those all-too-common, post-50 moments of not being able to summon the name of a common item, there was no one there to say, “It’s a fork, Dad, a simple word: F-O-R-K.” At night we were able to fall asleep at a reasonable hour without being awakened by a raucous group of teenagers in the basement. So do I miss the demands, teenage mockery, or boisterousness? Well, I’m a parent, so of course I do. Can’t wait to have them back!
3. LITTLE CONSOLATION. When you’ve made “progress” by losing to your wife in Ruzzle by a score of 84 to 22 instead of 81 to 14, it’s difficult to resist feeling patronized when she pats your hand and says, “You’re getting better, honey!”
4. EVERYONE’S A WINNER. This is why I’m devoted to my wife: When I told her I think people expect something on par with George Carlin’s Brain Droppings for these kinds of observations and that I fear my Dad Flashes are second rate by comparison, she assured me, “I don’t think you’re second rate, but what difference would it make if you were? The world is full of successful people who were second rate.” I never thought I could be so inspired by that rallying cry: “Go second raters!”
5. LIVING WITH COLUMBO. Before we delivered daughter number 1 to her camp this week, a letter arrived from already-camping daughter number 2. With it, she’d sent a photograph of herself surrounded by a pack of smiling girls, but her expression was sullen. That worried me, as I naturally concluded she wasn’t having a good time. But then our oldest studied the photo and said, “She’s having the time of her life.” Shocked that she could be so oblivious, I asked, “What are you crazy?” Without skipping a beat, she explained: “See what she’s doing with her hands?” [The tips of our yougest’s fingers were barely visible at the bottom of the picture.] “That’s a gesture one of her favorite YouTubers, Miranda Sings, makes, and her sideways frown is in imitation of Miranda’s signature expression. And look at her hair, it’s in a braid, which means the other girls did it for her.” A lightbulb went off above my head, and I was ready to prove I wasn’t a dimwit. “Wait a second, she braids her own hair all the time.” My daughter responded, “Yes, but never in a French braid. She can’t do a French braid. She must be really having a great time with the other girls if she’s comfortable enough to let them do her hair.” I was naturally relieved, but also felt a bit like the bumbling sidekick to the star detective of a TV cop show. If our exchange had been filmed for TV, I would have shaken my head in shame at my obtuseness, then watched with awed admiration as the brilliant interpreter of clues swaggered off, confident in the knowledge that I’d be lost without her. And that was exactly how the scene concluded in our living room.