After the football game my wife and I took our older daughter out to dinner as we usually do on these Saturday evenings. A celebratory meal, certainly not for the prowess of our team, these after-game dinners reinforce the connections we have with our very independent children. With one in college and the other soon to be, we hardly ever see them. We are pre-empty nesters trying to get the hang of our new reality. This time, our younger daughter was entertaining friends at home. We decided on Ethiopian.
After dinner, we headed back to the dorm. As we inched our way down Main Street, the inebriated crowds of Homecoming alums slowed our trajectory. Suddenly from the back seat, “Shoot, my phone died.” Our eldest was totally disconnected from the outside. Now she was all ours. “So,” I said, do you talk to your sister much?” “A little.” “What do you guys talk about?” “That’s private Dad,” she said. I knew that even before I crossed the line. But, sometimes a father has to try. My wife, chimed in: “Well, I know when I talked to my sisters, we’d mostly talk about how crazy our parents were.” “Yeah, sorta,” my daughter replied. This was no surprise to me either.
We are evolved parents, definitely more together than our parents were. But, often I marvel at our family’s typical dysfunctions. I always wanted to be the parent of an atypical family.
“Dad, can I borrow your phone?” She wanted to text her sister. Handing it to her, it’s now just my wife and I. We chitchatted about the crowds, while I tried to direct her into the right lane. Backseat driving is one of our typical foibles. My wife knew what she’s doing. My daughter handed the phone back to me.
Of course I looked! Nothing much to see. Just a text to her sister saying we’re done with dinner and heading back. Sometimes I think these texts are warnings. Clean up the house and get everyone out. Mom and Dad are coming home. The house always looks nice and tidy upon our return.
My youngest responded with “Kk,” short for “okay.” We arrived at the dorm; we said our goodbyes and watched her walk to her room. While she was walking, it suddenly occurred to me, I had been given an opportunity to smooth over our familial dysfunction just a teensy-weensy. You know, soften it just a bit. I had the text convo between my daughters in my hand. So, I typed, “Oh, and dad was great tonight.” Yes, I know. In the spur of the moment, with great power beckoning, I forgot to add my wife.
Dysfunctional? Yes. Typical? No way.