Sometimes the line written for a laugh rings true as a bell.
The most recent Dos Equis beer ad ends with, “he gave his father ‘the talk.’” I heard the line and chuckled.
A few hours later, my children gave me “the talk.”
We were on our annual family vacation in San Diego last week – the whole mishpacha (family) in adjoining condos, eating, playing, needling, sharing the vibe. My grandchildren had puzzles and projects everywhere. The beautiful disarray of a family that loves being together – at least in small doses – filled the space with joyful chaos. Earlier in the day we watched the Chicago Bulls win an incredible triple-overtime playoff thriller. My granddaughter Chava, who is five years old and doesn’t even know who Michael Jordan is, was so attracted to the wild raucous cheering she can’t wait for the next game, which she thinks will be like the last crazy one. But it won’t be, because we will not be together to go nuts, even if the Bulls make up a 14-point deficit in two minutes again like they did on Saturday.
“The talk” used to be when a dad told his son the “facts of life.” But when we get older, if we are blessed to be part of a caring family, the children may turn the tables to give the parents their version of “the talk.”
Like the father wants to help his son navigate the world of dating and sex, the adult child wants a reluctant parent to “man up” as he faces the challenges of age, pain, and physical decline.
My kids have endured a lot of hours in hospital waiting rooms hoping I will emerge. They have seen my sight decline and lately watched my arthritic and tendonitised knees rob me of my bounce. Children want you to stay the same Dad you were when they were kids. Maybe some fathers wish their kids always stayed “kids” too.
I take joy in the love and caring of my family and also wish they would just give me some space to work out my stuff my own way. They may think they know what’s going on in my head and my body, but how can they? Did I know how they really felt when they were teenagers?
My children believe in self-improvement, even perfectibility, and I guess Risa and I have trained them well in that area. They believe in a better diet, the power of therapies, the next knee surgery. I’m more into extra-strength Advils and putting one foot in front of the other.
The generations of Graffs love one another, and for that I am hugely grateful. But as much as we try, it’s hard to be in each other’s heads.
Questions: Have your children ever given you “the talk”?
If you have had a knee replacement, would you recommend the surgery to somebody else?