Activities aside, summer continues to roll on. For the 4th of July, we went down to the Mom’s folks house. Mom and Rye went down before us so Kinz, Bails and I drove down ourselves. It takes a little over two hours to get there. And that means you get to spend some significant time talking to your kids about whatever it is they want to talk about.
Conversation started with our favorite flavors of ice cream. French Vanilla by the way. I mentioned the completely foreign concept of the Good Humor man to them. Ice cream sandwiches, snow cones, push up pops, chocolate éclair and strawberry shortcake bars on a stick. Oh man, that chocolate éclair was good. But my favorite was the Bomb Pop. Not the red, white and blue one but the banana fudge one. I’d save, search and steal every damn coin I could get in order to have enough to buy a banana fudge bomb pop. Damn, if that didn’t make the perfect summer day back in ’79.
“Hippies? Weren’t we just talking about ice cream?”
As delicately as she can, Kinsey lays this on me, “But you were talking about when you were a kid, you know, back in the olden days.”
Bails quickly refocuses the conversation, “Yeah, so were there hippies?”
“Sure there was. Hippies were a bunch of longhaired, smelly, lazy, pot-smokers who pretended that they believed in super liberal collectivist ideals in order to avoid growing up and getting a job. They accidentally influenced some meaningful changes in American society like equal pay for women, casual Fridays and fringe.”
I didn’t really say that.
But they did have more questions.
“Did the hippies have long hair?”
“Yup. Boys and girls. They didn’t wash it either.”
“Did they wear a lot of tie-dyed clothes”
“Yeah, they wore all kinds of stuff that grown-ups thought were crazy.”
“Where did they live?”
“All over the place but they all wanted to be in California.”
“It’s weird there.”
“What did they do?”
“Well, one of things they tried to do was convince everybody to share everything.”
“Sure it is. Until you realize that meant everything. Like Aeropostale t-shirts. And money.”
A-ha! Not so nice now. These are things Kinsey and Bailey prefer not to share.
“Did you know any?”
“I don’t think so. I was just a baby in the early 70’s. By the time I was old enough to remember stuff people weren’t really hippies anymore.”
“What happened to the hippies?”
“Well, not actually killed them as in death. But people moved onto the next cool thing and that was disco. Which was pretty cool. But remember I was just a little kid. And Grandma and Grandad didn’t really hit the disco scene.”
“Was disco in the 80’s?”
“Not really. But the 80’s were freaking awesome.”
“Why do you like the 80’s so much?”
“Because its when I grew up. I mean we went from Tarney Spencer to Rick Springfield to AC DC to Guns N’ Roses. We had a great President, Magnum was on TV and the Pirates traded for Andy Van Slyke, Doug Drabek and Bobby Bonilla. Not to mention Luke killed Darth Vader, Rambo won the Vietnam War and John McClane saved the Nokotomi Building. I got to stay home everyday in the summer perfecting the finer strategic points of Capture the Flag. Did you know that I had an entire task force of WW II model ships in my room? I did. I could break dance a little bit too.”
At this point Kinsey and Bailey just looked at me the same way the American people look at the President when he says he’ll cut taxes.
But they had more questions.
“Were you a teenager in the 80’s?”
“Yup. And, not to be repetitive, but it was awesome.”
“Did you ever smoke?”
There it is. As a parent, here is where you engage in one of those quick debates with yourself. And by quick I mean those few seconds where your future flashes before your eyes…while you’re deciding whether to tell the truth, tell some of the truth, or just outright lie because it serves a greater good. Did I mention that your answer will impact several future incidents with your future teenage daughters?
Well, I’m a firm believer in always telling the truth. Half-truths and lies are like federal stimulus packages. Sure it maintains the status quo while deluding millions of Americans into thinking it’ll make things better but all it really does is create a giant black sinkhole that consumes the Constitution, your retirement savings and any sense of self-reliance in this country.
“Well, yes, I tried smoking. I wish I didn’t.”
“What was it like?”
“Well, it was gross. You smelled like a dirty diaper filled with cigarette ashes.”
“Yeah and you know at the dentist when they paint your teeth with that fluoride stuff? Its just like that except the flavor isn’t watermelon, it’s burnt cottonballs.”
“Yup. Totally serious. Makes your hair fall out too. You really want to look like me? Check out my hair. This is your future if you smoke.”
Then Kinsey comes with this, “Wow, Dad that is really, really gross. Not your hair but the whole diaper thing. But I have another question.”
“So how do you know when you’re pregnant?”
After two decades working in politics you learn that one of the surest ways to convince your audience that you are uncomfortable answering a question and/or don’t have a freaking clue what the answer might be is to hesitate with your answer.
“Well I’ve never been pregnant Kinz.” Classic technique of reframing the question. I’m no longer responsible for really knowing the answer because, well, of course I don’t know. I’m a dude.
“But there is this test.” I quickly add because, again, you have to know your audience. And my audience thinks its funny when you say…
“And so you pee on this thing and there are things in your pee that can tell you if you’re pregnant.” See what I did there. I said pee. Not once but twice. And kids think pee is funny.
So at the very least it turned into a discussion about what is in your pee instead of pregnancy. The talk is being scheduled between Mom and Kinz for the near future. I’m strictly a wingman…