Fading Parenthood

Food for Thought @ Davelle

This week, my daughter was on a break from school. Yesterday, she asked me if we could go out for a “business breakfast.” I guess she meant a type of breakfast I would go with my clients. I picked the Japanese cafe near us, Davelle. Their breakfast menu consists of a variety of Japanese-style toasts—thickly cut, perfectly square white bread meticulously decorated with toppings like cod roe, natto, ham, egg, lemon slices, etc.. She picked the honey lemon, reminding me that, ever since she was little, she has always picked the lemon flavor for everything.

She is quite big now—just a hair shorter than I am. Our conversations are not much different from the conversations I would have with my adult friends. I still teach her a thing or two, but she too has things to teach me.

In New York City, I feel compelled to provide the historical context of everything we see today. I explained, for instance, that McDonald’s used to have extremely bright floodlights installed on the storefront in order to repel heroin addicts because, for some reason, they love French fries and hate bright lights. She tells me that uptown kids still think downtown is dangerous despite it being completely gentrified.

After she was born, it took me a few years to get used to my identity as a father. At the hospital where she was born, the administrator told us that we should enter my wife’s name in the “mother” field of their form. Apparently, many people enter the names of their mothers as they are still not used to the idea of being a mother.

By the time our kids are in high school, our identity as parents become primary as all the other ones fade, like the crossfading transition in movies. But this is when we have to crossfade once again. Some parents are scared of this loss of identity. Even though they know their kids do not need so much of their guidance anymore, they insist. They think they are concerned about the wellbeing of their kids, but in truth, they are scared of what would become of themselves.

After about an hour of chatting over green tea, I told her I need to get back to work. She also has her own bustling business as a babysitter. But I still picked up the tab.