You’ve heard of a “Peeping Tom.” Well, occasionally I’m an “Invisible Tom.” When the Houses are full—as they’ve been for the past few months—I frequently hear fascinating conversations without being seen.
Tuesday I was privy to a lively exchange between three teen-age girls. Gathered at the kitchen stove, they bantered spiritedly about school, friends, boys, and plans for the day—in less than two minutes. They didn’t notice me—despite my being just a few feet away.
It reminded me of my years parenting teen-age daughters. Often curt in response to direct questions, they talked non-stop whenever they thought I was out of earshot.
During that period, my now 32-year-old began referring to me as “Mr. Perfect.” While half in jest, the label struck a chord with her younger sisters, who still complain that my expectations were unreasonably high.
With age, I like to think I’ve mellowed. I’ve certainly lost a few steps. Pens slip through fingers and names escape memory much more readily.
But these inevitable signs of aging are also among its most welcome benefits. Because I can’t hold on to some things as well, I have to let other things go—things that really aren’t so important in the grand scheme. The result is a healthy tempering—not of fundamental passions, but rather of the urgency that drives me too hard. The easing allows for high standards without perfection.
While I don’t envision either my kids or employees ever calling me “Mr. Mellow,” I’m hoping this is the year I can finally give “Mr. Perfect” the boot. Being invisible every now and then surely helps.
Tom Soma, Executive Director