I'm having a crisis of wisdom.
Older parents warned me this would happen, but I thought they were just being older parents bereft of wisdom. Now, I'm the older parent -- and don't think I don't notice you young parents on my street with the strollers and your amazing, adorable kids soaking up your smarts. Take that inside, would you?
In my day, you should have seen me dispense wisdom. Make your head spin. And yes, I have brought samples with me today. Listen to these gems from many years ago in the wise Hiaasen household.
* Put your water wings on or you'll sink like an anvil. Don't make me come in that pool to rescue you!
* Catch the baseball with your gloved hand, sweetie.
* Don't pester Mom this morning until she has her "Juicy Juice" (coffee, people, coffee!)
* Really, it's not important to understand why dogs eat used Kleenex.
* It's almost never necessary to continue beating an empty and exhausted pinata. We thought we taught you better.
* Baker's chocolate isn't the same thing. Dad just learned this, so trust him on this one.
This was nothing short of wisdom for the ages -- the younger ages. The water wings and pinata years are well behind us, although it's still a champion idea to give a pre-caffeinated Mrs. Hiaasen plenty of room -- if not an entire house to herself.
Now, we are faced with teenaged activities that, theoretically, require and deserve more advanced wisdom. One kid drives. One kid has discovered that a new pair of shoes can cure even the most remote downturn in her mood. All the kids have summer jobs. So many opportunities for indecision and insecurity! Why, you'd think a geyser of parental wisdom would be going off every three hours in our house with my kids standing underneath, drenching themselves.
Perhaps my wisdom has dried up. Yet, I try. I offered my 17-year-old son this pearl on the heels of cashing his first paycheck.
* Don't carry a lot of cash. You could lose your wallet or you might be tempted to spend all your money. Louis Rukeyser would have been so impressed; my son was not.
I know. I'm not stupid, came The Look.
Then he was off to "Wing Night" at Padonia Station with his buddies. Again, I felt I needed to weigh in.
* Don't forget your waitress. (OK, I was really reaching with this one.)
Did I mention he drives? I found myself actually saying the other day:
* Drive defensively. You never know what the other guy is going to do.
I know. I'm not stupid.
He took the SAT last month or maybe it was the ACT or SUV, I can't keep track. Anyway, I told him to get some rest the night before. Get some rest. I wasn't even listening to myself when I said it. I might have as well told him to take all his cash and have a sleepover "Wing Night" at Padonia Station and while you're at it, drive offensively.
I'm still waiting for one of my kids to say, "Hey Dad, why don't we head out to the ye olde workbench and you can show me the miracle that is WD-40." Look kids, see its tiny red straw! (To think of all the straws of my past that shot off like bottle rockets into oblivion ...) Instead of holding court at my workbench, I found myself advising my daughter on an end-of-the-school-year essay. In my defense, I do know a little about writing.
* Use the active voice, honey. (I told her!)
I know. I'm not stupid, again came The Look.
They are absolutely right, of course. They are not stupid. They are just growing up. They don't wear water wings or batter pinatas anymore. They drive and have jobs and buy shoes.
But I still think it's wise to get some rest.
To listen to podcasts of Real Life essays, go to baltimoresun.com / reallife.