Tuesday, June 19, 2018
News Roundup

Hooper: Sometimes, kids have to endure proud parents

The mother and father sit in the driveway toasting each other with tasty mimosas and broad smiles.

In the background, their kids trudge toward the school bus.

It's just an Internet meme, but in some ways it reflects the joy parents share about the first day of school.

Camps give way to carpools, homework replaces boredom and you finally have a legitimate reason to make them turn off the television and read a book. Or go to bed.

For me, a father still navigating the perils of raising a teenage daughter, the return to school this week represented a return to a more normal routine — or as normal as life can be with a girl bounding into adulthood.

No more Sunday night teen dances at the Dallas Bull ("Your paper wrote about it").

No more daylong, bikini-clad excursions at Adventure Island — in the presence of boys. "Just drop us off."

No more back-to-school shopping marathons that start at Target, traverse through the food court delicacy of rice and sticky chicken, wind through the pounding music of "AmericanAberAeroHolliSun" and end at the Michael Kors store.

Yes, the first day of school ends all of those summer shenanigans.

Yet it also represents a seminal moment, a rite of passage superseded only by birthdays.

You need only call up your Facebook feed and witness all the photos from proud parents to understand the degree of pride emanating from moms and dads. The grade school students flash toothy grins and hold up hand-drawn signs. Genuine excitement about going back to school fills their faces — and some parents actually think that's going to last through high school. HA!

Of course, older kids offer sheepish looks, wishing their foray into another school year didn't have to be subject to social media review.

But citing milestones remains so important to parents. One friend not only appreciates sharing photos with family and friends, but she also spends time reviewing past accomplishments and looking for ways to make the next school year even better.

At my house, however, the conventional back-to-school photo has given way to respectful objections.

"I would let you take a picture but you would put it on Facebook," she simply says.

No worries. There will be plenty of selfies to capture the moment. Trust me. Plus, I get to tell the readers of the Tampa Bay Times why she makes me beam with pride.

Something tells me she might not like this column.

Too bad.

Sometimes, kids have to live with proud parents. I didn't hoot and holler at her eighth grade awards ceremony. I didn't ring a cowbell when she scored a goal in soccer and I got my brakes fixed so my car would stop squeaking in the car line. Granted, I haven't replaced my two missing hubcaps, but you can't always get what you want.

I imagine we may face a few challenges as she enters her first year of high school, and the ride might get a little bumpy. Still, I'm confident she's going to overcome the challenges of adolescence, like a jet rises above turbulence.

And if she doesn't, her mom will be there to help out.

What I'll remember most about her first day of high school is that she shared it with three of her closest friends, girls she has known since grade school. I hope that bond endures through boyfriends and breakups, football games and fashion faux pas, teasing and taunts.

If they stick together, they can get through anything.

She'll read this column and call me lame, but I keep telling her, I'm not supposed to be cool.

I'm supposed to be your father.

That's all I'm saying.

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