The measuring ruler marks the top of the head of my daughter and the pen line inscribes her new growth as she steps away to see her progress. She smiles the width of the door admiring her new spurt."Daddy see how much I've grown? I'll catch up to you in no time."
"You have grown pumpkin, about a quarter inch I'd say. But you'll never catch up to me because I'm still growing too." I tease. She looks at me her eyes puzzled as the joke is lost on her five year old sense of comedy. Suddenly her eyes brighten.
"Daddy the only way you're growing is out with your tummy not from the top of your head."
I chuckle at first until I realize she is not joking. I look down at my almost forty year old body and don't see what she is talking about. Maybe it's just that my clothing is bunched a little at the waist and with that thought I dismiss her observation like one ignores an irritating question as I walk out the door shuttling the kids off to school. Throughout the day however as I did my Work At Home Dad chores I would glimpse at the mirror, convincing myself that it was my clothes that caused the paunch, not my body. Next time I thought I'll wear a tighter tee shirt so that the kids will see. Still my daughter might have had a point so perhaps before they come home I'll do a quick set of sit ups and maybe a fast jog around the neighborhood. That of course didn't happen for I couldn't fit it in my schedule. Nor could I the next day or the one after that. Until about a week later while trying to brush my squirming five year olds hair I was finally faced with mortality.
"Owe don't do that. You're killing my hair."
"Stop squirming, it would be a lot easier if you didn't move around so much."
"Owe you're pulling my hair out!"
"You're going to loose a lot more if you don't stop moving about."
"Well at least she can afford to lose her hair Daddy, not like some people I know." Immediately the hairbrush stopped mid stroke. I turned to look at my nine-year-old daughter who just smiled back at me like she had this huge gigantic secret and was enjoying not telling me about it.
"What do you mean by that daughter?" I emphasized the last word using it as a dagger, putting her on notice.
"Nothing father." She just sweetly smiles and survives another day.
"She's lying Daddy. You're the one going bald." My youngest extracts revenge from being so brutalized by the brush.
"I am not losing my hair." I look into the mirror reinforcing my deep felt opinion.
"Are to." My youngest daughter is pointing to the back of her scalp with her tiny delicate fingers. I try twisting my head around but can't see the spot she is referring to. I pivot around looking at my other daughter who is shaking her head up and down in the affirmative reminding me of a juror who has just condemned a man. My mind races having to challenge the truthfulness of my daughters statements, after all I'm forty and virile and fat and balding according to them. This is a pivotal moment for us. Us because I have taught my daughters to always tell the truth no matter how painful the consequences as it is always better to do so. But at this moment I want them to lie convincingly pitting their ethics against my vanity. I turn and ask as hurtfully as I can, hopefully leading them down the path of corruption and my youthful resurrection.
"Is it true?"
The oldest one answers first.
"Well it's not like your totally going bald just in some spots."
"Yeah just like here Daddy." The younger one ruthlessly points to the crown of her head with those delicate fingers. I make one last attempt at self-preservation.
"Are you sure?"
"Yep you're bald. Bald as a ping pong ball."
I look over at my youngest.
"Bald, bald, bald as a ping pong ball." They both exit leaving me with a crushing case of Samson complex. I study the mirror. So my hair has thinned a little but balled as a ping-pong ball is an exaggeration. I leave the bathroom going through the morning ritual of shuttling the kids to school. During the next several days I find myself doing the real manly stuff around the house. I don't just rake leaves with vigor I assault them. I just don't putter around the house I hammer harder any nail unlucky enough to make itself known. In fact I don't resist moving heavy items around the house any more I vault to the task. Need a king size bed moved? Stand aside I'll do it with ease and pleasure. This new offensive on life doesn't go unnoticed in our house as I hear my wife whisper to our kid's constant questions about Daddy. Ah so she's noticed my manly virility too. I guess she must have seen me slap on my Old Spice cologne this morning. Life is good when you're this young and masculine. Unfortunately the truth can't be hidden for to long and my Work At Home Dad Routine interferes with my new revitalized self. Staying at home has taught me that it is harder to hide from the truth, especially with so eager a group keen to keep me honest. So I re-learn a lesson that I taught my children. That telling the truth is always better. Still I hope that I am not alone in my ageing and if my daughters are the levelers of truth maybe they can even the scales just a bit.
"Hey pumpkin." I grunt while lifting a small sofa from one side of the room to the next.
"What's up Dad?"
"You know I was thinking about the hair and belly thing." I give an extra masculine grunt as I throw the small sofa down like some type of Viking interior decorator.
"Well you know I've been married to your mother for quite a while and..." She looks at me immediately getting the not to subtle point.
"Dad that's so rude." Rude or not I want to know.
"Well has she?"
"You mean aged like you? No."
"You mean no where? Not in the face, hair, anything?"
"You mean like the squishy tooshie?" I shake my head again hoping that I will have a companion in my early ageing and disintegration.
"Ahh...Nope." My elder daughter walks out the door leaving me to face the truth again. Somehow my wife hasn't aged but become more beautiful with time. Maybe I should start using some of those advertised products. I don't know but I do know that I am not alone. The fact is that I getting older and like a lot of us out there I will damn the time torpedoes it's full steam ahead for me. Ah does anyone have a good chiropractor they'd recommend. That sofa was a bit to heavy.