My Father’s Rule
When my son landed in jail—and in danger—I got a surprising
new look at the difficult parent I thought I knew By ANN BAUER
TOUGH LOVE Ann Bauer struggled with parental pressure as a child, so she raised son Andrew, below, as free from it as possible.
My father arrives before seven to knock on my front door.
The sun is weak and I’m half naked, still stumbling around
trying to get dressed without waking my husband.
“C’mon,” my father barks, as he has my whole life. “Traffic
is going to be murder. You’d better hurry or we’ll be late.”
I pull on a pair of jeans and a T-shirt,
stuff a sweater into my bag, and slip into
the closest pair of shoes. Stopping in the
bathroom to brush my hair, I glimpse a
pale, middle-aged woman with blood-
shot eyes and a storky neck.
44 AARP MAY&JUNE 2010
lurches out into the street.
“I brought cash,” he says after a few
blocks. “In case we need it.”
“Thank you.” I imagine the cells
inside my body, each with tiny folded
hands, pleading for coffee. But I know
that to stop now would make him too
nervous. Besides, he hates Starbucks—
says it’s a rip-off. So I watch the signs,
hunker down in my seat, and breathe.
Together we drive west, toward my