COLUMN: Obsolescence is a matter of mind

Take a jacket, it could get cold and rain later tonight ...

COLUMN: Obsolescence is a matter of mind

On Point by Andrew Holota

Take a jacket, it could get cold and rain later tonight.

Nah, I won’t need one. It’s sunny out right now.

She comes home freezing and wet.

Wear hiking boots if you’re going up there. That trail is going to be really muddy and slippery.

I don’t like hiking boots. I like wearing my Nike Airs.

Returns after the hike in soggy, filthy Nike Airs, and equally dirty clothing from falling multiple times on the slippery trail.

Your car has a sketchy gas gauge. Never let the tank go down past halfway.

It’s got plenty of gas. I just filled it up last week.

Phone call: The car won’t start. Do you suppose it’s out of gas?

It’s reassuring to know that after almost 19 years of being a dad, I’m still full of useful information and suggestions. Not that my daughter listens to them because, she is, after all, just about to become a full-fledged adult with all the perks this fall, and adult women don’t need helpful hints from old geezer fathers.

I had a extended panic attack about that very scenario when she graduated last year.

I was about to become obsolete. Antiquated. Out of touch. Uninformed. My beautiful bird was about to leave the nest, and only return for family visits and a brief stop at Dad’s Mobile ATM service, aka: wallet.

It wasn’t a pleasant sensation. All those years of labouring over spaghetti bridges, creative writing essays, and floorsized three-dimensional maps of the Nile Valley, complete with plastic hippos, were to be no longer.

She was all grown up. Self-sufficient. All-knowing, all-seeing. Just like dad. My job was done.

It was a mighty mental struggle.

And then she went off to her first year of UBC, living in residence. Happily, I was needed to transport the meagre trappings of life that could fit into her dorm, or mouse-box, as I dubbed it.

Then came the first essay, and dad the editor was called into service. And then there was the second essay and third and more – an analysis of patriarchy and colonialism; the moral responsibility of non-interference by nation states; and other critical thinking dissertations on matters social, political and global.

I’m not an expert in any of those subjects, but I’m familiar with them, they’re extremely interesting, and I can edit the heck out of problematic punctuation.

I’m lucky. She could be studying genetic coding. I wouldn’t know an amino acid sequence unless it spilled on my lap.

Actually, that wouldn’t be a crisis, either. Because when there really is a relatively minor ‘young adult’ crisis such as rampant exam anxiety, a derailing relationship or a professor carved of ice, most of the time all a dad has to do is listen. I learned a lot about listening this past year. Apparently, I’m not too bad at it.

I think I’m far better at dispensing sage advice. In fact, I’m full of it. At least she acknowledges the last bit. She often tells me so.

Here’s my reassurance to dads who are struggling with the concept of switching up from leading a wide-eyed child to unleashing a freshly minted young adult into the world – you’re only obsolete if you’ve made yourself that way.

If nothing else, you know well enough to take a jacket in case it rains. If you don’t know when the United Nations passed a resolution on non-interference by nation states, just be quiet and listen. You’ll know soon enough.

I don’t pretend to represent mothers here. I’d be afraid of detuning their special vibe in the universe of mom-ness, but I’m pretty sure the same basic principles apply.

Now, if you’ll excuse me, I need to go check the oil in my grown-up daughter’s car before the engine seizes.

Get local stories you won't find anywhere else right to your inbox.
Sign up here

Just Posted

White Rock City Hall (Peace Arch News photo)
City of White Rock’s new anti-racism policy aims to create ‘inclusive’ environment

‘There is still more for us to do,’ says Mayor Darryl Walker

South Surrey’s Kevin McAlpin is hoping to reunite this 50-year-old wedding ring with its rightful owner. (Contributed photo)
Owner of 50-year-old wedding band found near Peace Arch Park sought

Recovered ring ‘is important to somebody,’ says finder

Surrey City Hall. (File photo)
Surrey council earmarks $1.8M in grants for community groups

Councillor Laurie Guerra says it’s ‘essential’ given damage done by pandemic

Screen shot from the SOS Children’s Village BC webpage for their “Big Hearts Open Doors” fundraising appeal. SOS is also currently running a Christmas gift-card drive to help at-risk youth this Christmas. (Image via sosbc.org)
SOS Children’s Village BC launches annual Christmas gift-card drive

SOS collecting gift cards and donations for Surrey’s at-risk youth

Motorists wait to enter a Fraser Health COVID-19 testing facility, in Surrey, B.C., on Monday, Nov. 9, 2020. THE CANADIAN PRESS/Darryl Dyck
Another 694 diagnosed with COVID-19 in B.C. Thursday

Three more health care outbreaks, 12 deaths

Melissa David, of Parachutes for Pets and her dogs Hudson and Charlie are trying to raise money for a homeless shelter that will allow pets and are seen in Calgary, Alta., Thursday, Feb. 6, 2020.THE CANADIAN PRESS/Jeff McIntosh
‘My only wish:’ Children asking pet charity to help their furry friends at Christmas

Parachutes for Pets says it has received 14 letters from children in the last week t

Melissa Velden and her chef-husband Chris Velden, stand in their dining room at the Flying Apron Inn and Cookery in Summerville, N.S. on Friday, Nov. 20, 2020. The couple is hosting holiday parties with appropriate distancing and other COVID-19 health protocols in place at their restaurant. THE CANADIAN PRESS/Andrew Vaughan
Celebrities, Santa and Zoom part of office holiday parties being held amid COVID-19

Many will send tokens of appreciation to workers or offer time off or cash

Cannabis bought in British Columbia (Ashley Wadhwani/Black Press Media)
Is it time to start thinking about greener ways to package cannabis?

Packaging suppliers are still figuring eco-friendly and affordable packaging options that fit the mandates of Cannabis Regulations

Cops converge in a Marshall Road parking lot on Thursday afternoon following a reported police incident. (Ben Lypka/Abbotsford News)
Federal offender escapes, gets shot at and is taken back into custody in Abbotsford

Several branches of law enforcement find escapee a short distance from where he fled

A demonstrator wears representations of sea lice outside the Fisheries and Oceans Canada offices in downtown Vancouver Sept. 24, demanding more action on the Cohen Commission recommendations to protect wild Fraser River sockeye. (Quinn Bender photo)
First Nations renew call to revoke salmon farm licences

Leadership council implores use of precautionary principle in Discovery Islands

Ten-month-old Aidan Deschamps poses for a photo with his parents Amanda Sully and Adam Deschamps in this undated handout photo. Ten-month-old Aidan Deschamps was the first baby in Canada to be diagnosed with spinal muscular atrophy through Ontario’s newborn screening program. The test was added to the program six days before he was born. THE CANADIAN PRESS/HO, Children’s Hospital Eastern Ontario *MANDATORY CREDIT*
First newborn tested for spinal muscular atrophy in Canada hits new milestones

‘If Aidan had been born any earlier or anywhere else our story would be quite different’

(Pixabay)
Canadians’ mental health has deteriorated with the second wave, study finds

Increased substance use one of the ways people are coping

Most Read