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December 15, 1989 - Image 107

Resource type:
Text
Publication:
The Detroit Jewish News, 1989-12-15

Disclaimer: Computer generated plain text may have errors. Read more about this.

I FAMILY LIFE

RICHARD NEWMAN

Special to The Jewish News

ad. Are you going
44D out
tonight?"

That's not a
very difficult question. But,
as the father of a 15-year-old
girl, who has a brother three
years older, I can tell you that
inquiries of this sort are not
simply idle conversation.
"Maybe."
I stalled for time. Parents
often complain that children
give vague and evasive
answers. I think I know
where they get it from. What
I can't tell, from the phrasing
of the question, is if my
daughter wants me to be out
of the house or if she wants to
get out of the house.
I have always prided myself
on getting along well with my
daughter. We have the kind of
rapport a father and daughter
are supposed to have — not
pals, but still loving and
respectful of each other.
That's still my feeling but I
have come to realize that as
she grows, the boundaries of
that relationship are con-
stantly shifting.
"Samantha's Sweet Sixteen
is tonight and she's having a
party down at that temple
her family belongs to. Half of
the school is going to be
there. I was planning to take
the bus, but I thought that if
you were going out anyway,
you could give me a lift."
"Sure. Why not? It's only
halfway across the world on
the other side of town. What
else are fathers for? Where is
this place?"
"I don't know exactly. If

Richard Newman is a writer
in New York City.

The Two
Block Rule

My teenage daughter and I agreed I could
drive her to the party but no one could
see me do it.

you leave me at the bus stop,
that's plenty close enough.
"I'll wear dark glasses," I
say. "I won't open my mouth.
No one will recognize me."
"Daddy!"
"I'll wear a cap. The one
your Uncle Morris wore
when he drove a cab. You can
tell everyone that I'm the
chauffeur."
"It's just better if you
don't. You might see some-
thing that makes you mad."
"Like what?" The child is
protecting me. "I won't look.
I'll drive blindfolded."
"Daddy! Never mind.
Forget it. Forget I asked. I'll
take the bus. It's all right."
Faced with such logic, I
capitulate. "Okay. Okay.
Okay. Two blocks. No closer."
Our worlds had collided. The
lines of demarcation had been
drawn, the boundaries set.
That's what we call
negotiation.
I didn't even dare to ask
what was going on. What
could possibly happen at the
temple that a parent
shouldn't see? Things can't
I'll find it."
"No problem. I'll get you
there. If I have to go that far,
I can deposit you right on the
doorstep."
"No, no. That's okay. The
bus stop will be fine. It's only
about a two block walk to the
temple."
The cold cruel light of
realization hits me. This child,
my own flesh and blood, my
favorite and only girl whom I
had raised in my own image,
doesn't want me to drop her
at the party. She doesn't want
anybody to see me. She
doesn't want to be seen in the
company of a parent. It's
juvenile. It isn't cool, it isn't
excellent, it isn't done.

THE DETROIT JEWISH NEWS

107

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