I have been dreading this moment for a long time. I knew it was coming. I have known about it for 13 years. Ticking off the days.
My youngest daughter just turned 13.
I now live with two teenage girls, their mother and two neutered six-toed cats. My mother-in-law lives half a mile from my front steps (not that I've ever measured), and my father-in-law has passed away.
I am the only one in my immediate circle with a Y chromosome.
If, when I was an adolescent male, someone would have told me "in the future you will be surrounded by women. Your house will be full of women," I think I would have imagined it differently. Reality is a little different than I thought. Actually, it's quite a bit different.
Besides the neutered cats, the only other man in our house is a full size cardboard cutout of Josh Hutchison, who, I am told, is one of the stars of "The Hunger Games" movie, with which my daughters are obsessed. He scares the crap out of me almost daily. The girls move him around the house, so no matter where you are walking in the house in the middle of the night, as you turn on the light, he is in your face.
My daughters are growing up. My 16 year old is thinking about college. Actually, she is not thinking about it as much as we are. But she pretends to think about it. But now that the youngest is 13, we can start to clean things up and move on.
We have a "play room" where we now have put desks so the girls can do their homework there. It doesn't work. My 13-year-old's desk is crammed with her elaborate Lego creations. I don't know what is on my 16 year old's desk because you can't actually get to the desk.
They sit on the couch to do their homework. I recently made my way to Caroline's desk and tried to print something. But the printer was broken. We brought it in to the shop, and they found enough cat hair to knit a medium-size sweater. It turns out the cats like to sit on the nice warm printer and shed.
As the girls get older, hopefully we can discard items out of the playroom/homework sanctuary. I identified many of the items this past weekend.
VHS tapes of "The Little Mermaid" -- parts I and II. My daughters are too old for "The Little Mermaid," and we no longer have a VHS player.
The game Clue Jr. I think we are ready for Clue Sr.
Four containers of dried out Play Doh, all of which are red. We were probably going through a red sculpting period, or maybe it was when Caroline built the volcano in fourth grade.
Third grade math flash cards could probably go, along with the Hannah Montana posters. Anything related to My Little Pony needs to go to Goodwill.
The game Pretty, Pretty, Princess's time has come and gone. The girls used to make my 19-year-old godson, Jason, play it. He was surprisingly good at it. Maybe we'll send it to him in Seattle.
I found a cheese grater in the sanctuary. It still had cheese residue on it. I know my daughter likes to make nachos after school sometimes, but I always assumed the food preparation area was in the kitchen. That may explain why the keyboard is jamming constantly.
Under the grater was a Jonas Brothers notebook, and finally at the bottom was a thick book entitled 373 Best Colleges. Maybe we'll put that closer to the top.
Thomas Lawlor lives in Southport with his wife and two daughters. His "A Father's Journal" appears every other Wednesday. He can be reached at firstname.lastname@example.org.