I know that at times I embarrass my children, but usually it’s intentional. Nothing makes me happier than to walk out of the house with a teenaged daughter wearing black socks with my tennis shoes. Yeah, in some circles that’s in…but only if the socks have the Nike swoosh on the side. I got my swooshless socks from Walmart.
I revel in their pleas for parental normalness. My office elevator has had rails on the back wall and mirrors from ceiling to floor. When a kid and I enter, I prop both feet on the rail and break out in song! “Dad, you’re so weird! Stop singing Prince in the elevator! Someone’s gonna come in here!”
It’s actually very cool. You can see your performance from a bird’s eye view if you keep your eyes lifted up.
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But the embarrassment is on my terms. Not theirs.
On Halloween, I worked to get home at a decent hour. DJ and Stephanie had an event at their school so I was prepared to trick or treat with Michelle. I knew that my door to door days were waning, but I thought I had at least one more year.
As she put on her costume, I readied myself. I put on a sweater, jeans and made a sign for our candy dish on an index card: Please take one or two, we’ll be home shortly. I taped it to a long pencil and stuck it in the middle of the M&Ms and Starburst Fruit Chews.
I put a can of beer in a koozie and called up to my 12-year-old Oreo, “You ready to go?”
She came downstairs and eyeballed the situation. She was clear in her words, “It’s a little embarrassing to have your dad trick or treat with you. I mean, I’m old enough to go by myself. Ellen is only 11, and her Mr. Young said she could go with me – alone.”
Unfortunately there was no one around to remove the dagger that had been pierced through my heart. I stood there, bleeding, pondering my options. I knew it was time to let go.
“You got your cell phone?”
“Dellwood Drive and Elvin Court ONLY. If you want to go further, I’ll come meet you.”
“Thanks dad!” She gave me a hug.
As she walked away, I yelled, “Be home by 8.”
I slowly walked into the kitchen and removed the help yourself sign.
I don’t really wallow in grief any longer. The years have gone by, and we’ve all adjusted well. But there are occasions, seemingly little adjustments, that bring out the glaring realization that the lack of Lisa makes life harder. Watching your kids grow up is one of them.