My oldest daughter had a friend over to play recently. She's eleven and actually has corrected us regarding the terminology of such get togethers. They are no longer 'play dates'. They don't have a name. I sometimes start to refer to them as 'hang out time' but realize instantly how ridiculous that sounds.
Somehow, on this particular day, while my wife was at work I managed to do a bunch of kitchen stuff. It's a rarity but I think I pretty much did everything that needed to be done. I did some cooking. I beat back the day's tidal wreckage of papers, receipts, boxes, wrappers, books, and arts and crafts supplies from the kitchen table. I washed dishes. Silverware even. And still had time to sit down with a book.
Such pleasure is always short lived however. My daughter came into the kitchen with her friend and informed me that they wanted to go back to her friend's house to get her first-day-of-school outfit. And then do makeup. Which, don't get me started. I knew, however, that her friend's mom was running errands and since I didn't think they should be wandering about in an empty house I nixed the clothes-gathering journey.
"You can just do the makeup though right?"
"Dad! I can't believe you would even say that." Smirking derisively, slightly embarrassed in front of her friend, annoyed and amused that I would dare offer any suggestion in the world of hair or clothing or makeup. A world she long ago planted a flag in and claimed as her own. Because no one else around here noticed that such a territory was up for grabs.
"Seriously? You need to have the right clothes to do the makeup and stuff?" Part of me is doubling down here, in a way that I hoped would be funny, but part of me is also genuinely oblivious to the mechanics of what is happening. Which is probably not a good time to double down. I think I figured if it fell flat, which is surely the only way it was going to fall, that the fall would at least be somewhat humorous.
She just shook her head in disbelief though. She's a sweet kid and still finds the degree to which we're out of touch to be largely comical. Which I think is why her reaction to our rules and opinions is often met with open and playful mockery. She does a good job following the path we try to clear in front of her and thankfully, her frustrations (with our internet, makeup, tv, cell phone, etc. policies) have not yet led her to seek an alternate route, to cut through the woods and emerge with outright contempt. Sometimes however, there's a tone of voice announcing a coming change in weather the way thunder rumbling long and low in the distance foreshadows an ominous horizon. I guess those will be the teenage years.
On this day though she just sighed, turned and chuckled at the absurdity of what just happened and the oafishness of her father. I'm sure her eyes were rolling as she walked back down the hall to her bedroom.
I sat for a moment, at the table in the kitchen I had been so proud of cleaning up and began to wonder what our tonic situation was like.
There are some good homemade tonic recipes out there. Sometimes I go that route. If you drink G&Ts regularly and opt for the homemade stuff this post is post worth reading. It addresses safe levels of quinine consumption (and what happens when you exceed those levels).
The perfect Gin & Tonic can be its own sort of quest. If you find yourself headed in that direction you would do well to bring along a copy of Dave Arnold's Liquid Intelligence. He's devoted a ton of time to that drink as evidenced by the amount of attention it gets in his book. I haven't pursued it with that much gusto but believe me, a Gin & Tonic at Booker and Dax is definitely on my Someday-I-Want-To-Drink-These-Drinks-At-These-Places list.