I have virtually nothing in common with Tom Brady. He is rich and famous, I am not. He is unfairly good-looking, I am average (at best). As you read this, though, I have joined the otherwise impeccable Brady in one aspect of life – I am now 45 years old.
Before I start comparing my relative mediocrity to the NFL’s greatest quarterback, I think about something else we have alike – we are dads. And, as such, rather than depress myself with more comparisons between me and Brady, I asked my kids about turning 45. Three of my five, in fact, mentioned Tom Brady in their answers to my questions (we live in the Tampa Bay area, of course).
I asked them a variety of questions about being 45. Their responses ranged from sweet to subtly cunning, from pragmatic to unrealistic. I am not sure if my children – ages 6 to 16 – softened my worries about advancing toward 50, but I do know that they each had me looking at mid-life differently.
Question 1: Do you think 45 is old?
My older kids saw through this question right away – obviously attempting to provide comfort. Yosef, my oldest at 16 replied, “No! You seem like one of the younger dads of my friends.”
Interesting. I pointed out that he recently described a co-worker as “an old guy at work” who, in my assessment, looked to be in his mid-30s. For now, I appreciated his hypocrisy.
The younger the child, the more truly honest they will be. Each of my little ones – Everett, 9, and Emersyn, 6 – cut to the bone. They both referenced my age relative to that of their respective schoolteachers.
Emersyn stated flatly, “Ms. V has three kids, Dad. But she’s only 33. I guess you are way older.”
Everett took a different spin. “I guess you are older than most of my friends’ dads,” he said.
The parenting lesson: teenagers lie (and, in this instance, that is OK).
Question 2: What do you think you will be doing when you turn 45?
I had expected my kids to answer in a way that reflected their current passions currently lie. Only one did! Everett, my fourth grader, hopes to make a living hosting YouTube videos while fishing all over the world. All my other kids, though, were far more mundane.
Yosef says he will be a lawyer. Vivi might teach. Emersyn has her heart set on becoming a veterinarian. And Lynden made me shutter by telling me he would “probably end up doing something like you, Dad.”
So, after turning 45, would they be pursuing their passions or settling?
I could consider Lynden’s answer as a compliment – the idea that I have carved out an envious life. On the other hand, I came away disappointed my kids are not chasing lives that others might deem unattainable.
Question 3: What innovations will have occurred by the time you are turning 45?
Yes, flying cars still dominated the predictions about the future for my little ones. Everett even impressed me with, “I hope all those flying vehicles are electric!” His conviction about sustainability made me proud.
My older kids, though, offered other types of answers – mostly centered on the ability to never leave home. Everything to my teens MUST become virtual – from running errands to mowing the lawn to getting a haircut (huh?). Their answers caught me off guard. It made me think the next generation of innovators thinks about the world so, so differently than I did at their age.
These conversations, particularly with my teenagers, had me thinking about the high school kid I was – relatively ignorant about the world outside of my Iowa town, certain that by middle age I would likely settle into a 9-to-5 life, and not be open to the idea that I could go (even literally) anywhere I wanted to. Comparing the teenage me to my kids had me thinking of my regrets while searching for parenting purpose in their answers.
Do my kids believe they can truly do anything?
What could they learn from the regrets I harbor?
Can my children be part of the team that innovates, not simply part of the masses that benefits from such innovations?
How does the way I age (ugh), the life I have, the man I am, help my kids become the people they will be when they are “old”?
Yep, I am turning 45, just like Tom Brady. I cannot throw touchdown passes, or win Super Bowls (Go Bucs!), or have his flawless looks stare back at me in the mirror. I can, though, be the GOAT at helping my kids visualize the great things they can be doing during the era where cars will finally fly.