1. UNCOMFORTABLE MAKEOVER. Since my oldest is ready to get her license, I made a serious mistake – deciding to share my car with her, given that I rarely use it during the week. Somehow she read “share” as own, so she gave the car’s interior a makeover. Now there are hot pink covers on the steering wheel and rearview mirror, and pink dice dangling from the mirror, which she hung because “they’re so tacky, they’re ironic.” On weekends when it’s my turn to “share” the car, I drive it wearing the same gear celebrities in disguise do — sunglasses and a baseball cap pulled as low as it can go — and I always keep a vigilant eye out for cars filled with my daughters’ friends. If I pulled up alongside one of those, it probably wouldn’t take long for a picture of me driving the teen-girl mobile to show up on some social media site. Those dreaded paparazzi are everywhere!
2. OBSCURE TRIVIA KING. Impressing a teenager is no easy task. Thank goodness my youngest has an appreciation for obscure bits of information. So in a conversation about acronyms I let her know an acronym isn’t just initials, but initials that spell out a word. That gave me an opportunity to ask if she knew that scuba and laser were acronyms. She didn’t, so I was able to ramble off “self-contained underwater breathing apparatus” and “light amplification by stimulated emission of radiation.” Her response: “Oh, my God, Dad, you’re blowing my mind.” That of course sent me to Google looking for more obscure facts. The opportunities for a parent to impress a teenaged child are so rare, you have to constantly be on the lookout for them.
3. PERILOUSLY PERMISSION-FREE. It may still be five months away, but as we approach my oldest daughter’s 18th birthday, I can break out into a cold sweat at the prospect of decisions about body piercings and tattoos no longer being in my and my wife’s hands.
4. SCARY EXPERTISE. Not having any sons, and being surrounded by women who like to talk clothes, jewelry and make-up on a fairly frequent basis, has caused me to absorb, simply by osmosis, a level of expertise that doesn’t always translate when I find myself in other social settings. An example of that played out recently when I met my guy friends for drinks and dinner at a sports bar. An attractive young woman happened to be our waitress. When she walked away, my friends naturally commented on her beauty and style, and I had to weigh in with, “Yeah, the dewy look makes her skin really glow.” That elicited a few arched eyebrows from my pals. I had to recover by pretending those words hadn’t just come out of my mouth and quickly offering an opinion on who the Red Sox could sign this offseason to bolster their pitching.
5. TIMES NOT GOTTEN. My brothers and sisters and I used to tease our mother for getting excited when she found a few coins in our couch. But as a child of the Depression, my mother has a deeply instilled appreciation for every penny. Now the instincts ingrained in my childhood get lampooned by my kids. When my daughters put on brand-new jeans with gaping holes and frayed threads, I can’t help but think we’re sending a message to the world that our family has fallen on hard times. My oldest daughter laughs at my objections to current styles and tells me, “Get with the times, Dad.” My wife even tried to help me transition gradually with a pair of jeans that weren’t torn or faded but had a pre-frayed hem. I couldn’t put them on. So call me an old fogie or whatever term the kids use today for someone who’s not hip. I’m perfectly comfortable knowing there are some times with which I will never get.