Tag Archives: age

10 page essay on global warming

What follows is the tale of my inspiring, gripping, and emotional journey from fretful Older Dad to just plain old Dad. The subtitle should read “How I stopped Worrying and Started Being There for my Kids”

Okay, the story isn’t really all that gripping, and it isn’t very emotional either, but I do indulge in way more “prosaic introspection” than the author of this Wall Street Journal article—despite what the reader comments claim.

That being said, I believe my adventures in middle-age parenting might just lean towards the inspiring side.

I fall squarely into the “Older Dad” category having waited until the chronological age of 42 to make my wife large with child. I was, again chronologically, 46 years old when my spouse informed me I should start getting those diaper changing muscles loosened up again.

By the way, I stress “chronological” because if you ask any of my ex-wives or former girlfriends, they’ll argue that emotionally and intellectually I’ve yet to make it past my awkward teen years.

But never mind all that, let’s get back to the inspirational.

My guess is that there’s at least a full 15-year age difference between me and most of the other dads at the neighborhood playground. It doesn’t bother me much anymore but it was a constant concern when my daughter was a toddler.

There was more than a little self-consciousness about being a graybeard among all the young bucks and I was convinced all eyes were on the old geezer as he watched after his rambunctious daughter.

Maybe all those youthful poppas with their youth and their youthfulness secretly hoped I wouldn’t fall down and break a hip. I imagined they fervently wished to be spared the awkwardness of having to explain to their little ones why that old man was being carted away by the FDNY.

More and more, I found myself parking my butt on a bench and shooing my little girl away, insisting that she play with her new toddler friends.

It killed me every time my shmoopee hid her obvious disappointment and shuffled off to find a new playmate. My beautiful little daughter didn’t see a middle-aged man struggling with his insecurities, all she wanted to do was hang out with her poppa.

The transformation into a hesitant putz that worried about what others would think was complete. Where was the confident and ballsy Bronx kid who insisted on playing by his own rules?

Thankfully, that kid showed up again just when I needed him most.

Like_Bosses

It was a huge disservice to me and to my daughter. By creating imaginary slights and not experiencing the total joy of daddyhood with my baby girl while she still thought her grumpy old dad was the coolest guy in the world, I was losing out on a once-in-a-lifetime experience.

I got my ass off that park bench and started playing with my sweet little Miss. I wore the pink boas and the princess crowns. I attended the pretend tea parties and unfailingly extended my pinky. I ran after her and paid little attention to how foolish or how silly I may have looked. I was a goofy dad and it was a blast.

Turns out those young fathers I was so concerned about could not have cared less.

The decision to wait until I was mature enough to raise a family was the right one. Oats were sown and challenges were undertaken and ya-ya’s were gotten out. That could not, and would not, have happened if there were mouths to feed at home in my younger days.

That’s not to say I don’t suffer the occasional flash of panic when the realization sets in that I’ll be close to 70 years old when my kids are in college. I’m keeping myself healthy and fiscally responsible for their future so there’s no use wasting time on worrying about things I can’t control.

What I can control is how much quality time I spend with them. I listen to their stories, tell them a few of my own, and act the fool.

When it’s my turn to kick it, I’ll kick it hard and with full-confidence knowing that I did all I could for my family.

Well, this was my inspirational story. The story of a family man with two young kids who is past the half-century mark, has no regrets, and will never suffer from the “what ifs”. He just took awhile to get there.

As the old neighborhood saying goes: I ain’t even sorry about it.

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Will You Still Need Me? Will You Still Feed me?!?!

Two of the world’s great philosophers have weighed in about getting old.

“Aging is for people who don’t know any better.” — Exercise guru Tony Horton, creator of the P90X workouts

“Getting old sucks. I don’t recommend it.” — My old man

I am rapidly moving toward being a man of a certain age *cough cough* (or should that be *wheeze wheeze*?). That is to say, I am turning 50 in a few months.

Certainly millions of other men have crossed this threshold before me and millions more will after. But there’s something mystical and captivating about 50.

For one thing, at this stage of half a century, you are forced to slow down.

The conversation I sometimes have with my body goes like this: “What do you mean my knee is giving me trouble?” “What the hell? My bedtime is now 10 p.m.?” And, standing in the bathroom at 2 a.m.: “Why is it taking me so damn long to start peeing?”

And with slowing down, comes reflection. I look back at my mistakes (mostly) and then I look forward and start saying: Gee, what DO I want to be when (if) I grow up?

That’s the thing: There is your biological/chronological age and then there’s your emotional age. And in the case of the latter, I’m 17.

I’m 17 and in the hallway at my friend Silvio’s house, celebrating his birthday with my chums, raising glasses of Tom Collins (long before I embraced the virtues of vodka-and-tonics) and pledging to each other that, like Peter Pan, we would never grow up. We promised to never, ever abandon the essence of our 17-year-old selves.

Mission accomplished.

I still celebrate burping with the gusto of a teen, guffaw at stupid jokes and recite random pieces of dialogue from “Airplane!” as if it was from a Shakespearean play.

Still, it’s hard to keep up that kind of frozen-in-Neverland fantasy when you face an uncertain economic future because of the challenges of your career, the certainty that your kids will soon be leaving your daily protective care and the crapshoot of what your health will be like in your even-more advanced years.

And if that dose of reality were not enough, there are these recurring questions: What is my next act? Have I peaked? Is there anything left for me to wring from my professional career or is it all one slow slide from here?

I was recently looking at a CNN.com slide show of celebrities who this year are turning 50. Among them, Russell Crowe. I’m not sure how I feel about that. Does that put me in good company? Do I look younger than Russell Crowe? Does he look older than 50?

True story: I recently visited my old high school for a Career Day presentation. I ran into a classmate who I had not seen since we graduated in 1982. As I looked into his face, I was like: Holy smokes! His hair is white and he’s got these creases in his face. Boy HAS he aged! I suddenly started to feel very smug and better about myself. Until….Wait just a minute here! He’s MY age!

This is the kind of crap that goes through your mind as a man. How do I stack up compared to my peers? How do I stack up against my own benchmarks of success?

Comics have an expression that speaks to the challenge of slaying an audience with your performance vs. bombing on stage: Dying is easy, killing is harder.

In a similar way, I don’t fear my mortality. Dying is easy.

It’s the living between now and my mortality that, dear 50, is a lot harder.