From Papa to Bro

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Once his daughter called him 'Papa’ and thought he hung the moon. Now, Lane Parker has made the inevitable transition to ‘Bro.'

When my daughter was younger, she was always asking questions: Papa, why is the sky blue? What’s that bird? Where’s that water going? And I always had the answers.

Fast forward — all too fast, in my opinion 10 years. My first-born child is starting her sophomore year of high school. She’s ensconced in teenagery. She no longer calls me Papa, but Dad, which is okay, except she just as often calls me Bro and Dude, and I’m not sure how I feel about that.

And now I’m the one asking questions: Have you done your homework? Did you feed the cat? How long does it take to put on makeup? I also have questions about the new words in her vocabulary. Well, they’re not exactly new. They’re old words tortured into new meanings. Brave new meanings.

My daughter is becoming her own person, with her own thoughts, quirks, foibles. And she’s old enough now to understand that I’m not the perfect person I might have seemed back when she was a little girl. I’ve got my own quirks and foibles. And I don't have all the answers.


Obviously, my experience is not unique to humankind; yet it feels terrifyingly personal, like reading instructions on how to skydive, then jumping out of an airplane without a parachute.  Throughout this parental free fall, I must accept that my daughter is moving inexorably away from the little girl she used to be and toward the woman she is meant to be.

Khalil Gibran wrote, “Your children are not your children. They are the sons and daughters of life’s longing for itself. You may give them your love but not your thoughts, for they have their own thoughts. You may house their bodies but not their souls, for their souls dwell in the house of tomorrow, which you cannot visit, not even in your dreams.”

These words comfort me each time my daughter greets me with, “Bro, …”

With a Perspective, I’m Lane Parker.

Lane Parker is a writer and editor in San Francisco.