Of all the people who read this column this week, I think there will be no two people more pleased than my in-laws. I don’t think my own parents will hate the column, but I think it will be my wife’s parents who breathe a huge sigh and rejoice with a hearty “I told you so.” Most people aren’t too keen to give their in-laws much credit for anything, but I think these folks are due. Don’t think I am getting sentimental, though. Eventually, one of us is bound to irritate the others again. That’s just human nature and if anything else happens, it will tip the Earth off its axis and hurl all of us into the sun.
There is an old song called “We Are The People Our Parents Warned Us About” and I think, for the most part, the song is factual — at least for most young adults. What happens after almost two decades of marriage and a couple of children should be predictable. Someone once told me if you want to see what your girlfriend will be like as your wife, just look at her mother. In our case, that wasn’t the case. My wife is definitely her father’s daughter. Now, wait a minute. Especially you, in-laws, who are reading this. This isn’t a roast or a critique, folks, it’s just leading up to the punchline. For this week’s column, you are not the punchline. Maybe next week, when you try to tell a joke and get it all wrong or when one of you gets frightened by a slice of Gouda — but this week, you are off the hook.
What should have been telegraphed all along, and was not, is the fact that we are no longer the people our parents warned us about. In fact, that is farther from the truth than anything I can possibly think of. My wife and I, who were young and frivolous at one time not long ago, are suffering from an ailment that struck us without warning and provocation. We, readers, have become our parents.
Looking back, I should have seen the signs. I should have seen the moments when we would compare notes after talking to our daughters at separate times. We gave our older daughter our blessing when she got married. We love our son-in-law as if he were our own blood and he treats our daughter and our grandson very well. We could not ask for more. When the kids have a small misstep, such as spending a little too much money on some things, we are there with support and guidance. We also wonder what anyone needs with $150 boots, but we are quick to remember when we were younger and spent money on what we though was important to us, only to hear our own parents question why we had spent so much money on something silly. They may be our children, but they are adults and they can make their own decisions.
I find myself sounding a lot like my father-in-law when I am dealing with younger people. While I am not quite 50, I sometimes wonder what a 30-year- old needs with so many action figures and comic books. Why can’t they do grownup things instead of camping out to see a superhero movie? That is not something I would have said before. I like to think of myself as an old soul, but maybe I am just old.
My wife and I have more in common with our friends’ parents these days. We like the things they like and do the things they do and our younger friends think it’s a little funny that we are “cool” but as old as their Mom and Dad.
This past weekend, my wife and I went away for a weekend that was planned as a romantic getaway. We were alone, in a hotel, with no interruptions. The setting was perfect for a romantic weekend for two. I can tell you in graphic detail what we did on our romantic evening in the hotel. We ate cookies and watched “Law & Order” reruns until we fell asleep at 9:30. Unbridled passion took a back seat to warm chocolate chip cookies and police procedurals. Additionally, I am thankful we had checked into a small suite, because the king size bed was much too soft and sleeping on the couch on the other side of the room was better for my back. The television was on a big swivel, so I could watch “Law & Order” from the couch without disturbing my wife, who was sleeping with her feet elevated because the hours we spent walking earlier in the day caused her ankles to swell.
In the future, Hampton Inn might consider the “45-and-older romance package” consisting of a heating pad, a foot soak, a firm mattress and high-fiber foods. They can still give us the free cookies. Old people like those and we can grab a few extras to give to the grandkids.
I know there are a lot of folks our age who are a lot more active. I know folks well into their 70s who are still running, playing softball and bicycling. That’s good for them. They can do all that stuff and feel great. My father-in-law has a great recipe for happiness at mature age and there are only two ingredients: rum and coke. I think he’s on to something.
Baltimore native Joe Weaver is a husband, father, pawnbroker and gun collector. From his home in New Bern, he writes on the lighter side of family life.