My son and I are getting on one another's nerves. It's happening more and more lately, enough to the point where my wife has declared that the boy and I require some male-bonding alone-type time over the holiday weekend, while she and the girls stay in and presumably gossip about how annoying the two of us have been lately. This is a common parent's lament: my child is so different from me, we don't think alike, we don't understand one another. I've never held any pretension that I was going to be a "cool" dad. Since becoming a father over a decade ago, I've learned to embrace my inner uncool, connect with the Geek Within. So what's a parent to do when their kid turns out to have all the signs and symptoms of coolness?
The differences are striking: he's athletic and tan and lean, proudly showing off his skatepark-earned scrapes as he sits in his room picking out Nirvana and Hendrix on his electric guitar. I was the opposite: pasty and chubby and uncoordinated, far more prone to contemplating the hit points of gelatinous cubes to doing anything resembling physical activity, unless it was re-reading the Hobbit for the umpteenth time. Had we been children at the same time, we would not have been likely to be friends, though I can't help thinking that I would have envied him just a bit. The apple didn't just fall far from the tree, but it looks disturbingly like some kind of exotic citrus.
What I need to remember -- and this gets harder to do as he gets closer to his teens -- is that he and I are artifacts of the last century. He is the only male child in the house, and the only of my children who was born in the twentieth century. When he's a grandparent, I'm sure he'll be looked upon with wonder by his own progeny, Old Grandpa born back when the years started with a nineteen. We need to stick together, us last-century guys. Of course, he's got this-century tastes, so we're planning to take in the latest Pixar romp, grab some smoothies and bunker in at the local video game swap shop, just two different kids from a different time, trying to reconnect and find a little common ground.