The Best Stage of Parenting

There’s a scene in Father of the Bride that I relate to these days, as a parent of two young adult daughters. In the scene, Steve Martin’s character gapes as his grown daughter morphs into a tiny girl in braids who pipes up at the dinner table to announce her upcoming nuptials. My girls aren’t getting married yet, I’m happy to say. But I get the spirit of the movie scene when I watch all the little ways my daughters behave like grownups when I clearly remember bringing them home as helpless infants and then muddling through years of thwarted attempts to train them in basic responsibility and focus. It has dawned on me that somewhere in the last few years, something took, and now I can only drink in each delicious moment as these kids confidently lead their lives and reveal their depth.

Several little ways they have of showing ownership and wisdom have me not gaping, but wondering warmly at where my reluctant, fairy-obsessed, teacher-vexing progeny of lax parentage went, and who replaced them with these delightful grownups. Moms and dads struggling through the frustration and fog of various childhood stages, take hope:... [Read More]

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The Super Secret Hideout Fort

If you were anything like me growing up, one of your main modes of play with friends was identifying your super secret hideout, or at least get busy building one. Some of these were out in plain sight—no one was duped as to where you were playing. But other times, you might have managed to find a nifty clearing under low-hanging branches of a tree, or a little wooded area, or an old structure. These hideouts were often unsafe, of course. And although you talked it up often with friends who weren’t in on the secret location, most people over the age of twelve didn’t care a fig where you were playing, as long as you were quiet and stayed out of their way. Hideouts were good for that.

When I was seven, we commonly referred to a special location, which we believed was known to only an initiated few, as a “secret hiding place.” We built ours along one side of our house, next to the swing set on top of a large cement platform that covered the septic tank. I know what you’re asking: where was the supervision? They were glad to stay cool indoors, absorbed in their own tasks. The children could climb trees, launch off swings, and build secret hiding places on the septic tank with panels of sharp tin roofing as long as they played outdoors. There might be a ruptured kidney here and there, but that came with the territory.... [Read More]

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