1. NOT SO TOUGH. My daughters and I have decidedly different responses to single-digit temperatures. They leave the house with whole patches of skin exposed to the elements, while I wrap myself from head to toe in double layers. I don’t know if it’s because I’m not as tough as they are, or just a whole lot wiser. For my ego’s sake, I’ll go with wiser.
2. DEPENDENT DOTAGE. I often joke with my oldest that she shouldn’t make too ambitious plans for her future because she’ll need to take care of me when I’m very old and infirm. Her response – which she intends only in jest (I hope!) – is usually, “Don’t count on me, old man. I’ll be so busy running my fashion boutique on Fifth Avenue, you’ll be on your own.” But I’ve discovered my dependence on my children may have already arrived. On a recent morning, I woke up with such a stiff lower back I could barely move. The girls and I went to the gym, where I hoped some stretching would loosen me up. It didn’t and when I visited the locker room to switch back into street clothes, I couldn’t bend down to tie my shoes. When I met the girls in the lobby, I had to ask my eldest to tie them for me – which was a reversal of roles I wasn’t quite prepared for. But I have a plan to deal with this. Please don’t tell either of them yet, but I have decided to keep them close by and not let either of them go off to college.
3. WHOSE OLDEN DAYS? My youngest and I recently had a conversation about the caste system in India, and she was fascinated – and appropriately appalled — by the way untouchables were treated and all the restrictions on their behavior. When in the presence of a higher caste member, they had to remove their footwear and couldn’t even use an umbrella for shelter from the rain. When I asked if they were still treated that way, she said, “No, that was only in the olden days.” When I asked when that was, she said, “the ’80s or ’90s,” and yes she meant the 1980s and 1990s. For the record, India’s constitution banned discrimination against untouchables in 1950, 10 years before her father was born, which for a 15-year-old, I suppose, is close to prehistoric times!
4. HINT OF WHAT? I was in driving in the car recently with my oldest, when she made this comment about an acquaintance whose style offended her sensibilities: “She dresses all T.J. Maxx with a hint of Vineyard Vines.” It reminded me of when my friends analyze wines with observations like, “The tannins threaten to overpower but the oakiness starts to come through with a hint of toasted marshmallows.” In both cases, I do not have the faintest clue what they’re talking about. Most wines taste exactly the same to me, and I had to Google Vineyard Vines to figure out what it was. But do I publicly confess my ignorance in these situations? No, of course not. Instead, I nod ardently to let my oenophile friends and fashionista daughter know I both fully comprehend and wholeheartedly agree with their nuanced analysis.
5. TRACK-STAR TALENT. After days of unsuccessfully begging my youngest to clean up the books, school supplies, and clothes she leaves scattered around the house, I finally decided to collect everything myself and leave it on the threshold of her bedroom door. The pile was so high it blocked access to her room, so I was sure she’d finally have to sort through it all and put everything back in its proper place. So what did she do when she discovered what I’d done? She paused for only a second, then backed up to get a running start and accelerated forward, clearing the pile without dislodging a single item on it. I didn’t know whether to scream or call the high-school track coach and let her know I’d just discovered her team’s next star hurdler.