Opinion: Chattanooga baby boomers, it's time to let your children start taking care of you

As an older parent, it's tough to know when to allow your kids to start taking care of you.

Those of us in the baby boomer generation need to grow more comfortable with the idea.

I got a little taste of this recently, as our two sons did things that helped me realize that I don't have to maintain the illusion that I'm in charge.

For instance, at the Tennessee Titans NFL playoff game in Nashville last weekend, our 15-year-old son was especially attentive to his 63-year-old dad.

As we killed time before the game strolling down Broadway in downtown Nashville, he asked me several times if I needed to stop and take a break. I didn't, but the fact that he was constantly thinking of me made me happy.

Then after the game, as we inched back to our car in shoulder-to-shoulder pedestrian traffic he walked two steps ahead of me and pointed out curbs so I wouldn't stumble. I was wearing a ski mask, after all.

"Be careful, Dad; there's a step right here," he would say, pointing downward.

Back at home the next day, as I fretted about a broken shower faucet our son was online looking for a part at the Home Depot website. After that, he watched a how-to video on YouTube.

While I was lamenting that it might take days to get a plumber, he said confidently: "It needs a $20 part, Dad, and I can install it in 20 minutes."

Sure enough, when his mom brought home the part later that day, our son went to the garage to fetch the proper tools. He put a towel down in the bathtub to kneel on, and proceeded to save me hundreds of dollars in labor costs.

Opinion: Chattanooga baby boomers, it's time to let your children start taking care of you

Before he started the repair, I had warned him about the perils that would befall us if he messed up. We might end up with a leak we couldn't stop, I said grimly, which would necessitate turning off the water flow to the house indefinitely.

But my old-man fears were no match for his do-it-yourself confidence. Though he never uttered the words, I could tell what he was thinking: "Chill, Dad. I've got this."

And, indeed, he did.

Later that night, I texted our 20-year-old son after watching the thrilling Kansas City Chiefs-Buffalo Bills playoff game, which the Chiefs won in overtime.

A sports administration major in college, he texted me back, citing analytics about the statistical advantage of winning the coin toss in an overtime and breaking down the NFL's bewildering overtime rules that can result in one team's quarterback never touching the ball.

He explained that the rules were designed to make NFL game lengths more predictable, and therefore profitable. TV networks lose money when overlong regular-season games disrupt their regularly scheduled programming, he wrote.

"The NFL is a business, and when it comes down to it, they are going to do whatever puts the most money in their pockets," he said.

His instant analysis reminded me that he knows a lot more about this subject than I do.

My takeaway from the weekend was that if as my physical and mental faculties decline with age, as they surely will, having two smart, resourceful sons is a real asset.

Meanwhile, I'll think I'll just R-E-L-A-X.

Email Mark Kennedy at mkennedy@timesfreepress.com.

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