A mere two days after Father’s Day my 13 year old daughter informed me that, although I’m a really good Dad, I’m not the coolest. She was having a sleepover last night and, again, the issue of when “lights out” shall occur came up.
She begged me “please Daddy, don’t come in and make us go to sleep at midnight. That’s so embarrassing! Nobody else’s parents make us do that”. She wants to be allowed to stay up as long as they want, which on occasion I’m told has extended at other parent’s houses till 5AM when the last kid falls asleep.
“Really?’, I said incredulously. “They just let you stay up all night”. “Yes”, she said. “I don’t believe you”, I said. “I think the other parents just fall asleep and you stay up later than they want”.
Then she told me the tale of the “coolest” Dad ever. While sleeping over at another friends house, the girls were still up at 1AM playing cards and were hungry. Her friend’s Dad then drove to a Wendy’s at, 1AM, and returned with cheeseburgers and frys, which the girls consumed with delight sitting around the breakfast table.
“Wow”, I said. I needed a moment to digest that. I thought to myself “that’s
rediculous ridiculous … and pretty cool”. How can I compete with that?
So last night, after working late in my home office, at around midnight, I popped into the family room where the girls were watching the first Pirates of the Caribbean movie, for, like, the 10th time each. My daughter looked at me with that begging face that silently said please don’t tell us to go to sleep after the movie.
I didn’t offer to go get cheeseburgers, but I didn’t issue a “lights out when the movie is over” command either. I just said “good night”. Sylvia says she still heard some sneaking around and chatter at 4AM. It’s almost Noon and my daughter is still sleeping.
I’ll have to verify the cheeseburger story with the other Dad. They live in 78704 in a really cool funky house, so l have to allow for some weirdness allowance. Us suburban Dads, though most of us at one time were pretty cool, don’t drive to get cheeseburgers for our kids at 1AM, but I have to admit it sounds like fun.
And it’s fun watching the kids get older. I can’t think of a better place to raise kids than Austin Texas. It’s tough to balance the different parts of me – the strict pragmatic, no nonsense Dad versus the “let kids be kids” Dad. I know which side the kids like best, but later in life they’ll probably thank me (or maybe not) for all the “no, you can’t do that” answers they hear as well.