Dad?

We become our parents.

It’s a fact of life and one that makes me want to chew on rocks when I think about it too much. This point was driven home the other day when I was pointing a finger at one of my boys and telling him to “sit up straight, I’m not raising boneless chickens here”. Karma, revenge, God’s Master Plan To Mock Us, whatever you may call it, it’s seemingly inevitable and heartbreaking all at once. Here are the signs that I’m sliding down that slope; you may well be joining me. Let’s get together and complain of our health woes in the near future, shall we?

5 Signs I’ve Become My Parents

  1. Hey! Your hat’s on backwards. When I was a kid, I was told the only two reasons my stepfather would accept for someone wearing their hat backwards were if they were playing catcher in baseball or they were¬†welding. The lame excuse I concocted of not wanting the wind to blow it off as I rode my BMX bike at a blistering 4mph was met with the cold stare of intolerant incredulity. Now? I think anyone wearing a baseball hat on backwards is telling the world “I’m still being financially supported by my parents.” I actually told my son in my big outdoor voice the other day that “no, as long as you’re riding in MY car, you’re not wearing that hat backwards and sideways. I’m not chauffeuring Justin Beiber here, dammit.” While my stepdad might be proud, I can’t believe I’m actually saying this. Pass the throat lozenges and hot coffee, please.
  2. Don’t call me after 9pm. This was a hard and fast rule in our house growing up. It was also The Great Paradox Of The Teenager – if you wanted to stay out past your 10pm curfew, how could you call and make that request if it was 9:08pm? Inevitably, I’d make the bad choice of just skipping the call and the usual response of “do you have any idea what time it is? SOME of us have to work tomorrow, you know” and just enjoy some risky freedom, only to be met at the door at 11pm by crossed arms, a glare and a grounding. And now? I’ll actually fake sounding all sleepy if someone calls after 9. I have no idea why – we’re always up later than that, but that somehow crept up on me, made it’s way into my Standards of Acceptable Behavior. Go ahead and call, I’m not really asleep, I’m just being grouchy.
  3. Shut up, the weather’s about to come on. Concerning oneself about the weather really is just a pastime in frustrated gambling, and yet if it’s 5pm and I’m watching the news like a responsible senior citizen, I’m addicted to the weather report. I really think that Missouri has one month of good weather – two weeks in the Spring and two weeks in the Fall. The rest of the time is spent either melting in humidity or chattering your teeth out in the icy gray of winter. So why the hell do I care about the weather? It’s gonna rain, or it won’t and yet I stay glued to the weather portion of the news like I’m responsible for delivering life-saving serum across the Midwest, and my journey hinges on mold-spore counts and potential rainfall totals.
  4. Volume. No matter what channel, no matter what song, if my kids are playing it, it’s too damn loud. My music? Can’t get loud enough. Sorry boys, you’re not living in a democracy here, and there’s no way I can tolerate iCarly at volume level “4” when we could be cranking Credence Clearwater Revival at “11”. My own father and I went through this in 1982, when he was determined to blast Pink Floyd on the Hi-Fi while dancing in his striped bikini underwear and all I wanted to listen to was Dexy’s Midnight Runner’s awesome sonic effort “Come On, Eileen”. He won, every time.
  5. Comfortably weird. Reference the above statement; it’s no exaggeration – my father would wear speedo-style underwear and little else the moment he was freed from the shackles of the working world. It was horrifying for a kid trying to have friends or anything resembling a social life. And now? If our boys have a friend over to spend the night, I’ll try and convince them at the dinner table that I know how to use The Force. I’ll drink scalding coffee on hot days and late into the night. Three showers a day seems to be a reasonable number. I’ll drag the garbage can to the end of the driveway in a robe…in the snow. And when I found out a co-worker picked up a set of bagpipes for $25? I fumed with jealousy for a week. Yeah. I’m there.

Now you’ll have to excuse me…I need to go organize my sock drawer before bed time.