Missing: My busy high school senior
The dirty laundry and food crumbs are the only indications she’s been home
This is her senior year of high school, which means there’s plenty for her to do: play practice and improv troupe rehearsals and jazz band and orchestra and rock ensemble and college auditions and music lessons and honor societies, among other things.
What it means for the other two people in our house is that we get to spend a lot less time with her. I can tell she still lives with us, because of the laundry and trail of chicken tender crumbs. This is the evidence that at some point every once in a while, she’ll touch down before launching back out the door.
I can’t complain, though, because her mom and I promoted this. When she was very little, we hoped that as she got older, she’d get involved in clubs and organizations and participate in life. But lo and fie, for we were naïve, childlike and gullible in our wishes. It appears that our kid seems to rather enjoy participating in life. She swears she’s not getting burned out, and as long as she’s happy doing pretty much everything there is to do, anywhere, I’m good with it.
While I do sometimes get sentimental, this isn’t exactly my “Cat’s in the Cradle,” column, because if it was there’d be a paragraph about me longing for the days when I taught her how to ride a bike, which I didn’t do. (Hold on whilst I adjust my “Worst Dad Ever” sash.)
However, I did teach her that it’s better to do things than to not do things. So, more often than not, she’s off doing things. Good for us, I guess, even if it means my favorite “Jeopardy!” contestant isn’t on the couch next to me at night.
Her absence has presented interesting challenges. For example, because she’s not around much, I’ll need to find a new way to refer to her. Henceforth, she shall be known as one of the following:
My “daughter” (making air quotes).
The alleged child.
The theoretical kid.
My daughter. Evidently.
Essence of progeny.
The proverbial child.
The insurance beneficiary.
When I was growing up, there was hockey and garage bands and walking to Zayre to watch the Seabrook kids ride wheelies through the parking lot to keep me busy. It was the 1980s. That’s what we did.
So keep an eye out for her. She’ll be the one with the long, dark hair, who will tell you that the opening notes to “The Simpsons” is a tritone diminished fifth. It’s the 2010s, it’s what she does.
Carry on, my wayward daughter.
Bill Burke is a writer who lives in southern New Hampshire and shouts (usually wrong) answers at Alex Trebek all alone every night while his daughter is off doing things and his wife reads. He is also managing editor of custom publications at McLean Communications.