My children treat me as though I’m part of their personal staff. And they don’t think I’m doing a particularly good job.
My daughter wants me to be her secretary, and screen her phone calls. “If it’s Kevin, tell him I already left. If it’s Janet tell her I’ll be over in a half-hour.”
“What if it’s just someone who wants to talk to you?” I ask.
“Well then, obviously, tell them to call my cell phone!”
My 10-year-old son wants me to wash his laundry, and then fold it and put it away in his drawers. “And I need new socks. Buy me some more when you go to the store.”
“I don’t really know what kind you want.”
“Get me the ones that go up to the ankles, not high up on the calf, or low down at the heel. And make sure they have red stripes.”
“Maybe you’d like to come with me and pick them out yourself?”
“Don’t be silly, Dad, I’ve got to go to camp all day, and then I have a game tonight. That reminds me, I think it’s your turn to bring treats for the whole team. And please don’t get those crummy potato chips like last time. Everybody hated that. Get popsicles or ice-cream bars.”
“Those things melt, unless you bring them right at the end of the game,” I say.
“None of the other parents seem to have any problem doing that. Why can’t you?”
Meanwhile, my older son is looking for an apartment with his buddies at college. He keeps faxing me application forms to fill out. “Why do you keep sending these to me?” I ask him.
“The landlord wants the person who’s financially responsible to fill them out. And make sure you sign this one. You forgot to sign the last one, and the landlord rented it to someone else who had all their paperwork filled out correctly.”
“Ari, this is the tenth of these applications you’ve had me fill out this week. How many apartments are you renting?”
“Dad, you don’t seem to realize how tight the rental market is in this town. I need you to fill this out and fax it back right away, or we won’t have a chance to rent this apartment, either. Oh, and by the way, you said you were going to rip me a copy of that Miles Davis CD. Have you sent it yet?”
When I became a parent, I realized it was going to be a lot of hard work. But I had the na