We are just entering this phase-- the one where we embarrass our children. Mostly, it's the daughter who you can hear say this in the way only pre-teen girls can. "Da-aaad!" It makes me remember when my own dad just would not tone it down in the name of my own hoped-for coolness. Despite my repeated admonishments and requests to not do this or not wear that, dad would just grin and forge on. I remember walking through the local mall with a friend, my dad, and her grandfather. Both men were sights to behold. Her grandpa's pants drooped a little too low- way before drooping pants were cool. To be clear, no sporty Joe Boxers were peeking out. My dad had a five inch single cuff on his dark blue Wrangler jeans (of course they weren't cool Levi's). If he moved just right or turned too quickly, you might notice a kernel or two of corn flying out from this elegant cuff. Neither man could hear well so the shouting that ensewed would have been comical had my friend and I not been so hyper-aware of how completely un-cool these two guys were. If memory serves correctly, both men also sported tootpicks just to the left of their front teeth. My friend and I were trying to walk far ahead or behind them and we may have even appeared to be mocking them. Her grandma caught us and gave us a lecture that surely had the, "These are good men. They take care of you girls. Show them some respect. Kids these days...blah blah blah" in it. Dad just grinned. Again.
As I grew older, more embarassment would ensue. The big grin on my dad's face when he brought home a 1972 two-door, sky blue Oldsmobile mystified me. That car was larger than my first dorm room. Later I would concede that despite it's 40 gallon gas tank, I could haul 6 extra people and that was great-- even if parking caused me problems. This same dad had the gall to teach me how to change oil (none of my other friends had to do that), ask me to bottle-feed calves BEFORE school, and expect me to help walk beans, sow oats, and pick rocks out of a field. I was just slave labor, apparently. But I lived through it all and what I thought was so embarrassing now just makes me smile. Because now I hear my own daughter echoing the same tone which will be the music in our lives for the next few years and I kind of think this will be fun. No wonder my dad was always grinning.