Like father, somewhat like daughter


As we crossed a key threshold in my daughter’s life on the weekend – she turned 16 – I cannot help but look back on her progress to date, and make a few comparisons along the way.

  • As a teenager, I loved music. I’d spend hours in the basement or my bedroom listening to tunes. She’s the same way, but with largely a different genre. I’m into rock; she’s more into hip hop and pop music.
  • She’s a night owl and hates early mornings. I hated mornings too, but grudgingly got up and walked to school each day. She, a victim of earlier start times, gets a ride most days.

My one niece was always a night owl as a teen, and my late mother-in-law loved to burn the midnight oil, so there may be some genetics at play from either side of the family for her being wide awake late into the evenings.

  • When I turned 16, I was indifferent to the idea of driving. I rode my bike everywhere in North Bay. Brenna looks forward to getting her licence, and never learned to ride that bike (I’m a lousy teacher).
  • She can roller blade. I cannot.
  • I was a rather picky eater as a teenager when it came to food. Brenna will pretty much try anything once.
  • I was and still am very sarcastic. The kid is helping to refine the art.
  • She looks on the outdoors with disdain, unless you’re at a beach or near a pool. Hanging out in the backyard in the summer is done begrudgingly, as there may be bugs about. As for the winter? Forget about it.

I loved the outdoors. I spent many weekends walking in the bush (that’s what we northerners call “the woods”). Whether it was hunting, fishing or just hiking, I loved being outside.

  • As the younger of two boys, I was a spoiled brat at times. Though by age 16, much of that was out of my system, as I was often left to fend for myself around the house at that age.

Brenna never comes off as spoiled, despite the fact she’s an only child. She has her wants and desires, but I don’t recall much in the way of tantrums over the years.

  • I got along with all the cliques at high school, from jocks to nerds to everyone in between. I was a bit of both, I guess. I was never bullied in high school, and would like to think I stood up to bullies for others.

Our kid has befriended kids who have been bullied, and worked through others to end the harassment.

  • I was a solid student, graduating with an average well over 80 per cent. The kid to date has been pushing at the 90 barrier.
  • And can she dance! Such grace as a competitive dancer. Whereas, I have two left feet. My best dance move is the pitcher dance, where I’d take a pitcher of beer out onto the dance floor and wave it around as I stumbled about. I never perfected the move, and it hasn’t seen the light of day in many a year.

Yes, we are two very different people, and I am proud to call her my daughter each and every day.

Sweet 16

Our girl’s Sweet 16 weekend was especially cool for her, as for many years she’s been in dance competitions on her birthday weekend. This time around, those competitions are all clumped into April, so she was able to celebrate.

For such a complex person, she had simple requests: Friends over for the weekend, and one present – a tattoo.

Umm, what?

I have a plethora of friends who have body ink, some of which are cute little wrist tattoos, while others have art that takes up most of one arm, and more. But my wife and I are ink-free.

As a teen, I once thought about getting an earring – think Jason Patric from the Lost Boys. Heck, I had Kiefer Sutherland’s mullet from that movie at the time anyway. But my mullet and my earring thoughts predated the movie.

And those thoughts suffered when a best buddy said he was getting his ear pierced. So I thought I’d get a double piercing – until same friend returned with two studs in one ear.

I gave up.

But a tattoo? It’s never crossed my mind to have someone jab a needle into me and inject ink into my skin.

For Brenna, it is obviously different. And, I have to admit, well conceived. She informed us she was considering a four-leafed clover, an anchor, or a feather on the inside of one forearm. Even though I am proudly Irish-Canadian, the clover was the weakest of those choices.

Ever since her grandfather passed away a decade ago, whenever she came across a bird feather, she’d think of him. She and George would go for tons of walks when he was still with us, and have tons of fun. Brenna and her mother also enjoyed walks together. After George had passed, they came a cross a feather in the backyard. Mary Beth told her it was a sign from George; a way of him saying “hello.” After all, many cultures believe feathers carry such significance.

Brenna took it to heart.

A decade later, she is still thinking of her times with George. The feather would serve as a constant reminder. Ditto for the anchor, as George, who served in the navy, had one tattooed on his forearm.

While I personally wouldn’t get a tattoo, I understand people wanting to get one. It’s art, and it goes with you wherever you go.

So, on Saturday, she had her consultation, and will get ink later this week.

This follows a busy weekend with friends. It began with one former dance girl coming over Friday night, and continued with school buddies on Saturday evening and into mid-afternoon on Sunday.

They took over the basement for most of the weekend, and had a great time.

Right after they left, Brenna was off again with another dance girl for dinner and study time.

It was a busy, fatiguing weekend for the kids. As for the parents? We both had some work obligations, and it appears our senses have somewhat dulled when it comes to hip hop. Either that, or the TV was louder.


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