I suppose we all think about our legacy; we wonder how we will be thought of and remembered when we are gone. This primordial urge was top of mind recently as I was making my breakfast before work. I reached into the refrigerator and pulled out the egg container. This was one of those flexible Styrofoam egg holders, not the recycled cardboard kind. I grabbed the egg container in the middle and it sagged, with the two more heavily weighted ends pulling the less eggy middle. In short, the potential for disaster.
There is or should be a law that proper refrigerator-egg etiquette [or “eggtiquette”] requires that eggs be removed from the ends of the container first, then you work your way toward the middle. If you take from the middle first, especially with the flexible Styrofoam packages, you could wind up with the particularly bad mix of hurried grabbing of the eggs, sagging middle, heavily weighted ends: one (or worse, several) eggs mixing with fine Italian tile. A perfect storm, if you will. And hardly appetizing at that.
By golly, I’m going to have a discussion with spouse and spawns and explain how harried Dad’s life is, and how they really should concentrate on making sure the eggs are taken first from the ends of the container and work your way in. I’ll explain the dangers of not following this basic procedure, and unfortunate consequences to me and our otherwise idyllic home life if not followed.
But this is why keeping one’s legacy in mind when acting or reacting can be a life altering experience. Do I want my daughter telling her friends “you think you had it hard, my Dad made up all these rules. We couldn’t take the eggs from the middle of the carton. He used to make us take the eggs out of the carton from the ends. Can you believe the anal retentiveness?”
And so we let it go. Perhaps she will use her noggin and logically figure out this and other similar life lessons or perhaps young Julia will make certain mistakes and learn from them. So she’ll have to clean eggs up off the tile. How else will she learn?”
On this particular morning, I was eating my eggs, then I heard the usual harried thumping on the stairs. Julia, who is sixteen, was in crisis. She arose her usual 20 minutes late for school, and then, omigod, her hair straightener broke. “I can’t friggin’ believe it” she muttered, using a thinly veiled code word for a curse. As she stroked her long locks looking at her reflection in the decorative mirror in the hallway, she continued mumbling decrying how hard life is. “Dad, it’s tough being a girl.”
She’s got me there. It certainly is. I used to walk out of the house, heading for school without even touching my hair from the time I woke to arrival at school.
“Can you drive me to school? If you drive me, we don’t have to leave for another 20 minutes”
“But if you make the bus, I won’t waste the half hour round trip.”
"But I need that time to do my hair, and I need 10 minutes to finish my Chem homework."
"Finish your homework? Why didn’t you do it yesterday?"
“I was working on it last night.”
“Last night?, you mean when you were sitting on the couch, iPod in ear, laptop on lap, watching Glee, texting with half the high school, and taking a nap --- all at the same time?. You were also doing your Chem homework?"
"Dad, you don’t understand."
"You’re right, I don’t understand. You know, when I was 16… "(uh oh – Legacy Alert. - Remember the Eggs!!!). I changed to my loving sarcastic tone: “OK schnook-ums. I know you need to get all dolled-up for school. I wouldn’t want to be the cause of ostracism from your peers.”
"You don’t get it Dad. Look at this homework. Why does Ms. Mittendorfel give us this crap. Look at this. LOOK AT THIS (holding four pages in front of my face). It’s so unnecessary and time consuming. She doesn’t care that I have just as much from Physics, English, and Pre-Cal. She doesn’t care. And I have the SATs in two weeks."
Then she showed me her Physics homework. Three pages of incomprehensible scribblings. Incomprensible to me, that is. It contained all these formulas, equations and symbols that I could not distinguish from Chinese characters. It looked liked what Charlie Brown wrote after his teacher (“wa-wa; wa-wa-wa-wah”) told him to write an answer on the blackboard.
“Where are my friggin’ Hollister jeans?"
“Where did you leave them?” (Hold it; Legacy Alert).
“I washed them yesterday, but I’m not sure I dried them.” Came the adult female voice of reason from upstairs.
“Holy crap”, retorted my young flower. She’d better not have dried them. The Hollisters have to be hung to dry; if you put them in the dryer, they shrink and will be too small. The American Eagles are the ones that should be dried.”
I went over to the laundry room to attempt to diffuse the crisis. Thankfully, the Hollisters hung last night, were dry.
“I’m happy to report that the Hollisters are fine. Crisis averted. I’m really happy not to have to deal with a girl whose jeans of preference were not in high school ready condition.” Feeling as though I can’t tell her not to finish her homework (I could not care less about the hair – but, you’ll be happy to know, she made due with the “so yesterday” straightener), I patiently waited for her to finish the chemistry work. My clients can wait.
Thirty five minutes after being asked to drive her in 20 minutes, we get into the car and head to school. She did manage to finish her Chemistry work, so I felt some sense of accomplishment. Julia immediately turns the radio to her station, playing some of the most annoying rap music you’d ever want to hear. I take a certain pride that she’s rebellious enough to have found music that I hate, which --- since I like most music --- is hard to do.
We pull up to the school. All the girls appear to be in uniform. Jeans, Ugg boots, North Face jackets, cell phones, pin straight hair. They might as well go to Catholic school. The uniforms are different, but the clothes they wear are uniforms nonetheless.
I looked over at her and recalled, yet again, how proud I am of her. She has stellar grades, and, when she’s not frazzled trying to get ready for school, is a pretty amazing kid. Clever; funny; engaging.
“You look beautiful, Princess.”
She smiles. “Thank you Daddy, Love you.” She got out of the car, turned toward the front of the building, books in hand, hair blowing in the wind. I put on the oldies station.