LCB and I both took parental hits last week, during the winter storm that froze the alligators in North Carolina and left us considering a move to the equator.
LCB took his parental hit by deciding to pull out all his old winter clothes, circa The Early Chicago Years of Our Marriage. Early on in the week, he started stepping out of the bedroom wearing oversized, bright-colored-and-patterned sweaters or sweatshirts and corduroy or wool pants with pleats and cuffs, apparel often already on its way out of style as it made its way into his closet in the nineties. (The man loves him some eighties everything.)
LCB lives life as if the next Great Depression could hit at any half-second now; this means that while he would make a great MacGyver, he also hoards anything that might someday be useful in a pinch, a.k.a. everything he’s ever owned and many things friends and wives are in the process of discarding when he intercepts them.
(Did y’all just read anything into that last statement? Hmm.)
Anyhow, as my younger two kids were getting ready to leave for school one morning, LCB walked out of the bedroom wearing tan cords, a purple sweater with this weird, dotted pattern and a giant stripe at the bottom, and multi-toned bucks. The sweater may have been circa The Dating Years.
Both kids looked up from what they were doing and stared. For a second, their wide eyes were the only indication they thought their father stood before them dressed like a clown.
Then, my son laughed outright, and Baby-Girl gave incredulous voice to what the rest of us were thinking. “What are you wearing?”
“My winter clothes,” LCB answered.
“What?” She queried further, unsure how to proceed with her questioning.
“It’s so cold I have to pull out all of my old clothes from Chicago to keep warm this week.” Then he tried to mask madness as logic. “I mean, if I don’t wear them now, I’m never going to wear them again.”
His wife, who donated her winter Chicago wardrobe over a decade ago, said nothing, despite all the things she was thinking.
Baby-Girl tried further. “What is that belt-thing on your sweater? It looks weird.” LCB grasped at explanation and smiled weakly while the rest of us tried not to laugh too hard.
The coup de grace, however, came when Baby-Girl gave him one more once-over, and concluded, “Dad, you look like an alien.”
At that, LCB waved his white flag and ushered us out the door while I reflected on the idea of truth from the mouths of babes.
Halfway to school, however, my reflection came back to bite me as I recalled my conversation with Baby-Girl the afternoon before.
We were on our way home from school and were discussing her plans to have two friends over that weekend. I had told her I would take the three of them to a trampoline park as a special treat, so we were finalizing those details.
In the middle of trying to decide whether they’d need grip socks, she stopped mid-sentence and asked, “Mom, are you going to jump?”
Y’all. I’m in my forties. Jumping is just not something I do publicly. (Unless there are snakes. Last year, there was a snake sitting in front of my car door in a parking lot. Pretty sure I jumped then among the public.)
So, rather horrified at the thought, I gave a low laugh, said no, and, as I did, I looked back at her through my rearview mirror.
Y’all, my horror was no match for the horrified look her face held for that split second before it turned to unbridled relief as my answer sunk in.
I had taken her question as one of curiosity, or at least politeness.
It was neither. It was a safeguard question, and she’s not even in middle school yet.
LCB and I, then, each came to terms with the fact that our prime years happened sometime before 2018. At least to the younger generation, the clothes of our youth don’t make us look youthful, and jumping makes us look stupid.
Friday night I sat back on the couch, contemplating this. I suppose I might have grown melancholic left to my own devices, but LCB sat down next to me and handed me a glass of wine, one with great ratings, one I probably couldn’t have afforded or possibly begun to appreciate in my early wine-drinking years.
I took a sip and held it for a moment, thinking. It was a left bank Bordeaux that was complex and earthy, with mild tannins, and finished with a hint of currant. All of this would have escaped me twenty years ago. And by the second sip, I realized I was pretty much good with being a full-fledged adult after all.