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So, the children and I have discussed it, and if they ever decide to write a book about the sorts of advice the Lovely Mrs. Smith gives them, it won't be at all "Mommy Dearest." It will, in fact, be titled "Worst-Case Scenario: Words of Pending Doom from My Mother."

That's because, in an effort to prepare and shield her children from less-than-favorable outcomes, my wife has a tendency to envision dangers of both a horrible and wildly implausible nature. I'm not saying she's cautioned them against alien abduction. I'm just saying it might have happened.

Early on, I tried to be the voice of reason in all this. That was until I found myself offering advice along the lines of "apparently zombies can only travel in a straight line, so, zig-zag."

Which is to say, we parents worry. Sometimes unrealistically, but certainly all the time. However, exactly what we worry about has changed significantly since our parents were providing us the same goofy warnings that went in one ear and out the other (mostly because, in many cases, there was nothing in there to slow them down).

Since a birthday recently passed, I've found myself in a unique position to recall what our parents may have said then versus what we as parents are saying now.

Then: "Wear clean underwear."

Now: "Please don't show up on social media in your underwear. Or ... not in your underwear."

Then: "You look so pale! Here, have some chicken soup!"

Now: "You look so pale! Thank goodness you're not exposing yourself to the sun's harmful rays. But don't eat that chicken soup unless you know for sure the chickens were free-range, organic and humanely treated and nothing chemically altered is in the broth. Here, have a nice kale and spinach smoothie instead. After all, it's Meatless Monday!"

Then: "There's someone out there just right for you."

Now: "There's someone out there you can swipe right on."

Then: "Write your grandmother."

Now: "Text your grandmother. Or you can message her on Facebook. You follow her on Instagram, right? Or you all can Skype, but not next week. That's her Botox week and she won't be able to move her upper lip."

Then: "Be safe."

Now: "Be safe. As in 'safe.' Like, you know, 'saaaaffffe.' I mean, we've talked about this, right? The 'safe' thing? We had that conversation. We didn't? Never? Well, hmmm ... ah, ya, soooo ... maybe you should go ask your mother about that. But just, like, be safe. I mean, that's the big thing, right? Safe."

Then: "Did you put gas in the car?"

Now: "Did you plug the car into the charging station?"

Then: "Is there anything you need to tell us?"

Now: "Are there any videos out there you need to tell us about before we accidentally find them while digitally stalking you and have images seared into our eyeballs that we'll never be able to unsee?"

Then: "You're not wearing those tight jeans out of this house!"

Now: "You're not wearing those tight jeans out of this house! Those are your mother's. Yours have fewer rips in them and are hanging in the laundry room."

Then: "Did you leave us the address where you're going to be?"

Now: "Did you drop a pin on the map and turn the location app on your phone on?"

Then: "Make sure you've got mad money."

Now: 'Make sure you've got the ride-sharing app and your electronic billfold downloaded and your backup battery charger with you. And never let your drink out of your sight. And when you wake up, make sure you've got both your kidneys."

Then: "Are we friends with his parents?"

Now; "Are we Facebook Friends with his parents?"

Then: "No swallowing goldfish."

Now: "Make sure your sushi is fresh."

Then: "We're always there for you, any time of the day or night."

Now: "We're always there for you, any time of the day or night. But, remember, Tuesday's are our Tai Chi class. And this summer your mother and I are following the Dave Matthews Band ('when the kids are old enough, we're gonna teach them to flllyyyyyy!'). And every third week of the month it's Wine Tasting Wednesday. Which reminds, we might just need a ride home ...

But don't worry, honey. If you need someone to talk to, or a great big hug, Bernard the Emotional Support Llama is still out in the back yard. Be careful, though. He spits."

Then: "We love you."

Now: "We love you."

Yeah, that part hasn't changed.

Commentary on 02/09/2018

Print Headline: Then and now

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