I’ve been ordered to give up red meat. If I reach for a second doughnut from the Entenmann’s box, I’ll get the Look of Death. No more than a taste of alcohol at kiddush, and the treadmill in the basement has my name on it.
These directives come not from my doctor or wife but the fourteen-year-old I have come to affectionately refer to as my maughter, which sounds better than my dother. Lately Rachel has taken a keen interest in my health. Maybe she wants to make up for the slack she believes is posed by my actual mother being sadly incapacitated. Or maybe someone in her peer circle has suffered the loss or illness of her father. Who knows, maybe she is the most sensible one in the family looking at the lousy care I tend to take of myself as I fly headlong into middle age.
As endearing is it may be at times, it’s not necessarily in the best interest of an adolescent to assume an adult responsibility, such as responsibility for an adult. So I at first assured her that it’s my job to take care of her, not vice versa, and that there’s a pefectly capable MD in charge of monitoring my cholesterol, weight and other vital statsitics. Later, my approach changed to simply telling her how much it means to me to have someone care so much. Actually cutting down on the meat and the doughnuts and burning some calories a few times a week isn’t going to hurt, either.
As baby boomers age there is a heightened consciousness in Jewish life these days about the halachic requirement to see to the well-being and care of one’s elderly parents, a task that I fortunately so far haven’t had to fully face. Hopefully Rachel will never have to. But in case it ever comes to that, it’s good to know now that she’ll be up to the task.