Sunday, November 7, 2010

How I fit my teenager for a GPS without her knowledge

This cool dad thing is starting to wear off.

My wife and I are always encouraging our fifteen-year-old daughter to invite her friends over to the house. It's nice to meet the people she hangs out with during these pivotal years, and if they're here, they're not somewhere else (obviously, but you know what I mean).

These kids hang out in large social clusters, quite similar to gorillas and elephants with expanded vocabulary, but only recently have these groups become co-ed. Crushes do exist within their ever-morphing amoeba, but very little pairing up actually occurs—fine with me.

A few weeks ago, a group of twelve boys and girls assembled at our house to eat frozen pizza, drink high fructose corn syrup and get ready for the high school's fall homecoming dance. The girl faction had gathered earlier, and were ready to go when the males arrived. As they entered, the aroma of "Pink Sugar" perfume, the latest incarnation of adolescent female essence, hung thickly in the air, melding with the slightly burnt odor of ten Red Baron combo pizzas.

Since I'd not met most of the dudes, I tried to kick things off on a cool note. You know, make sure they noticed my ear piercings, maybe try a nonconventional handshake on one or two of them.

"Hey, guys, I'm Zoe's dad." Obviously. What other middle-aged man would be plodding around the house in shorts, slippers and a torn UW hoody with no drawstrings.

I continued, "You can call me Tim." Okay, that was kind of stupid. Chances are very slight that they'll ever call me anything. But at least I haven't messed up too badly yet.

But I didn't stop there. "I won't make you call me Dr. Haywood, even though that's how most people refer to me, since I'm a neurosurgeon."

Sparse, uncomfortable teen chuckles sprinkled the room. as my daughter's glare tore into me.  "He's not a doctor. He's a graphic designer. Bye, Dad,"

Well, that sure went well, I thought. It used to be so much easier to win these kids over. A solid knock-knock joke, followed by their favorite flavor of frozen Gogurt and a Capri Sun, and I was golden. Now the only golden object was my silence.

I retreated into another room and didn't emerge until I could hear them preparing to head out for the evening. I re-entered their domain, planning on saying as little as possible, but lost my game plan at the sight of three shirtless sixteen-year-old boys. Apparently, they decided to change into their dance shirts just prior to leaving, and my living room looked like the Chippendale's Apprentice Academy.

It was easy to stick to my no-speaking strategy, since my mouth and the mouth's of the girls in the room stood agape at the display of muscles I haven't seen on my own body since the Carter administration.

The wardrobe change took all of two minutes and everyone was out the door before I realized that my daughter had entered a new realm in her dealings with the opposite sex. And next time everyone comes over, I'll be much more prepared.

I won't be there.


  1. This is pandemic! My girls are quite a bit younger as you know, and they came home from a playdate/groupdate with some of the neighborhood boys and said the boys all took their shirts off at one point! What the...? And they don't even have muscles yet!

  2. I can't stop laughing. Especially since I know you to be one awesomely cool neuro graphic designer surgeon. Another hilarious post.