As our children become older so do their perceptions of us. When she was young I clearly knew my place when I came home from work. It was plaything for my daughter. A role I very much enjoyed. She really liked my company, then, and would run laughing as I chased her or seek everywhere as I hid. I remember reading to her every night and making up silly stories about underground creatures called Schnorgles. Karen and I would ask after her imaginary mouse ‘Mouse’ which, thinking on the century home we used to live in when we were in rural Nova Scotia, may not have been so imaginary as we thought. But something happened to all that. Was is gradual? I think it must have been.
Whatever it was, I became something different for my daughter. We have both become silent when we are alone together these days. That ‘nothing’ between us can be an angry thing if I’ve just told her to get to bed or some other ‘parent’ thing but usually it’s an empty no-man’s land that neither of us are willing to test. My wife says we are too alike but there is so much that differentiates us I don’t know. We can certainly both be rebellious and stubbornly stupid but that may be where it ends.
The other day I drove her to the library and as I walked in I noticed that she was walking several strides behind me. Then, at 1 AM that night, when I was picking her up after a party she greeted me but seemed to want to get out of there quick. She certainly didn’t introduce me to the guys she was hanging out with.
It was only later, after I was thinking about it, that I realized something.
Now this bears a little explanation since you likely don’t know me. I have always been ambivalent to or even hostile with fashion and ‘looking great’. I prefer ‘not bad’ or ‘could be worse’. Comfort is king for me. My ideal outfit is what I wear at home. Track pants with the bottoms tucked into thick work socks (prepared to take an emergency bike ride at any moment). A cotton shirt, a thick fleece jacket and a fanny pack (if I’m going out and need my keys or wallet or notepad) complete the stunning ensemble. Well that’s not completely true. Sometimes I top it all off with my faithful black fedora that my wife bought me almost 25 years ago now.
That’s me. It’s what I like to wear. But I brought my daughter to the Public Library wearing that. And she was dressed to the nines with high heel shoes click-clacking behind me. No wonder she kept her distance. And no wonder she wanted to leave quickly after the party. I looked like a bum.
Older but wiser? Perhaps…
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