Life is funny.
My twenty-year-old daughter, Melanie, has a her new summer job as a nanny for three small children. She's an aspiring operatic soprano who was whisked off to a rich suburb near Manhattan the day after her finals had ended at the Eastman School of Music. Her mother and I miss her dreadfully. Thank God for our Family Talk Plan!
Last night, she called home and as we discussed my upcoming book signing at Borders, she called out, "You two need to pipe down and go to sleep! I don't want to hear one more peep out of you!"
I doubled over with laughter. The tears streamed down my cheeks. The tone and emphasis was identical to my own words uttered night after night to Melanie and her twin sister, Allison, when they were little. When she came back on the phone, she joined in my laughter.
"You know, Dad, it's weird. I'm turning into you and mom. I'm so strict, I'm worried all the time about them! I hear you in my own voice each time I talk to them! And when did I learn all the lyrics to these Raffi songs?"
I thought about her comments as I drove past Wal-Mart tonight. A mom and her two teenaged daughters walked directly in front of my van. They crossed the road without taking a second to check for traffic. I couldn't relate. Not one bit. I still put my hand in front of people's chests when we approach a road crossing. My friends get a bit annoyed with me, but old habits are hard to break
I was about thirty years old the first time I realized how much like my own father I'd become. I got up from a chair and grunted. Just like Dad. I walked across the floorboards with loud, heavy footfalls. Just like Dad. And I reacted to a glass of spilled juice with the same, "Argh!" Just like Dad.
This parenting thing and the cycles that propel us through life are puzzling. For the past twenty-two years, I've defined myself as a father. It was the all-encompassing label that described me. More than engineer, more than husband, more than passionate gardener, more than aspiring author - it fit. Life was chauffeuring Jennifer to band practice, Allison to her dance lessons, and Melanie to play rehearsals. It was helping with homework, doing mountains of laundry, and trying to cook for an army on Sundays so we'd have nutritious, albeit monotonous, meals all week. It meant leaving work early to make Allison's cross country meets, designing tee shirts to promote the school musicals, and helping Jenn find a decent car for no money.
Now that my girls are women and my grandsons have arrived, I've begun to define myself as a grandfather. And I like it. A lot.
Like I said, life is funny.
Aaron Paul Lazar resides in Upstate New York with his wife, three daughters, two grandsons, mother-in- law, two dogs, and three cats. After writing in the early morning hours, he works as an electrophotographic engineer at NexPress Solutions Inc., part of Kodak's Graphic Communications Group, in Rochester, New York. Additional passions include vegetable, fruit, and flower gardening; preparing large family feasts; photographing his family, gardens, and the breathtakingly beautiful Genesee Valley; cross-country skiing across the rolling hills; playing a distinctly amateur level of piano, and spending "time" with the French Impressionists whenever possible.
Although he adored raising his three delightful daughters, Mr. Lazar finds grandfathering his "two little buddies" to be one of the finest experiences of his life. Double Forte', the first in the series, was published in January 2005. Upstaged, number two, is in production. With eight books under his belt, Mr. Lazar is currently working on the ninth, which features Gus LeGarde and his family. http://www.legardemysteries.com
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