Distracting dad on Mother’s Day
MAMARONECK, N.Y., May 12 – Whenever I visit my parents, my skill set incontrovertibly reverts back to that of my formative years, or roughly those of a one-eyed, three-legged deaf horse.For a reason beyond my comprehension, even the smallest tasks – those that I’ve administered on my own for all the years that I’ve been living independently – become wholly unmanageable as soon as my stay begins.When I landed in New York on Tuesday, my dad met me at baggage check and, as always, I immediately ceded responsibility for the very same suitcase that only hours earlier I had packed all by myself, lugged down two flights of stairs, hurled into and then out of the car, through the airport and over the airline check-in counter. Somewhere over Kansas, or perhaps between Ohio and Pennsylvania, the suitcase without exception transitions into my dad’s charge. It’s not as though he necessarily insists on lifting, wheeling and hauling it for me, or that I ask or hint that I expect him to. It’s just the way it goes.Until I started college, I never once used a traditional alarm clock. My dad was my official bugle for 18 years. Every morning he’d come in and sing the same little ditty (“Good morning/Good morning/You slept the whole night through/Good morning/Good morning to you”). I think there was some secret universal fear in my family when I left that he might have to come with me if not to wake me up in the dorm every morning, then to set the clock each night. Which, frankly, is just plain silly. I learned how to use the clock before the fall semester was halfway over (and he knows that firsthand because he called nearly every morning for about a month to make sure I was awake). I actually still use on a daily basis the very same clock he got me in 1991. Really. Which may explain why, when I’m at my parent’s house, I kind of still need my dad to make sure I get up each morning. You know, in case the alien clock they’ve put next to the bed doesn’t work. After all, how am I supposed to know how to work it? Which brings me to the shades. In my house in Aspen, we have blinds. They open from the top and/or bottom, which, as far as shades go, is sort of on the more complicated side. When I was a kid, I never could open the shades in my room, even though they were of the simple, just tug slightly and they’ll fly up-variety. My dad would have to raise them when he came in to wake me up each morning. The few times I tried to open them, they inexplicably lost all elasticity and hung lower than before I started. As I got older and stayed up later than my parents advised, my dad still didn’t seem to mind raising the shades. In fact, I think he took some wicked delight in forcing sunshine on me when he knew I wanted to continue sleeping. And now I’m scared to try and open most of the shades in their house. I don’t want to break them and get in trouble. Although I’m pretty sure they can’t ground me anymore. (At least I hope not.)I have a mortgage, a car loan, utility bills, grocery bills and more bills galore – all of which I pay on time every month. Yet when I go home to my parents, they pay for pretty much everything I do or acquire during my tenure. They actually get kind of angry with me when I try to pay for anything. (Note to self: Insert no jokes or complaints here.) Fortunately in my house out west the toilet paper rolls just slide on and off the holder. When I was younger I had to summon my dad every time the roll needed changing, as I never mastered the art of clicking it off, inserting a new roll and getting it to stay back on in its place. And when there were no spare rolls under the sink, it was dad to the rescue to replenish the bathroom’s TP supply from the laundry room downstairs. That ritual remains unchanged.When I got my first apartment in Manhattan after graduating from college, I took up cooking eggs and preparing toast on most mornings. But even though I’ve been buying the same brand of bread as my dad and regularly employing the egg-scrambling techniques he’s demonstrated for years, his finished product always tastes better than mine. Which is why it only makes sense for him to make my breakfast when I’m at the house.And although I’ve been driving ever since I passed my (second) driving test when I was 16, and even drove three and half-hours from Aspen to Denver International Airport this week (and didn’t get a ticket or into an accident), he wouldn’t let me drive 19 miles from LaGuardia Airport to the house. Or five miles to the store. Or even re-park the car in the garage. But despite all the work I create for my dad when I come to town, I consider my presence a present for him. In fact, although I am here for Mother’s Day, my being here is also meant as an early Father’s Day gift for my dad. See, this way, my dad gets left alone on Father’s Day, giving him the peace and quiet he always claims to long for whenever I’m in town. And for my mom, my visit over Mother’s Day is a gift for her since I seem to keep my dad endlessly occupied, which means he almost completely refrains from bugging her, thereby giving her some well-deserved peace and quiet. Really, it’s my way of giving back to them both. It’s a wonder they don’t clamor for me to visit more often.Happy Mother’s Day, Mom. Happy Father’s Day, Dad. And, to both of you – you’re welcome.Email questions or comments to email@example.com.
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