Rock n’ Roll Parenting

i’ve told this story before
but it’s worth retelling
when my oldest son was nine
he wanted to buy the green day american idiot album
first song there’s swearing
‘dad – why are they swearing’
they’re a punk band
‘what’s a punk band?’
kind of like a protest band
‘what are they protesting?’
listen some more and you tell me
we listen
‘the war?’
sounds that way yes
‘why is there a war in iraq?’

and there it was
one song
a couple questions
and i’m talking foreign policy with my son
i tell him about other protest songs
he asks if bob dylan was a protest singer
i told him he was not

my kids are being raised in a split family
no one ever thought this would happen
but things just get in the way
and one day you’re afloat in a sea of mistakes
mostly mine
so i live with this guilt of splitting up my family
once at a dinner party i was talking about this with a shrink
i don’t do the shrink thing
but it was uncanny how acute her quick observation was
and how she offered one little piece of advice – apologize to your kids
i did
and still do

i know a lot of people from split families
i think that there has been a new way of thinking about this
i don’t know why but i think that sharing music with your kids
is like a warm fuzzy bandaid
i’m not talking about the banal baby songs during the formative years
i’m talking about putting on some beatles and singing along
or telling them the smoke on the water story
i feel like this gives them a true insight into who their parents are
everyone’s got song stories
sometimes they’re the best stories to tell

and so there we were
north
hiking and climbing
sleeping under the stars
eating what we could carry
my and my two boys
scraped up knees
and arms covered in bites
zen
we swam out into the middle of a lake
my youngest – jack – the adventure boy – always taking the lead
my oldest – luke – by my side – wary of the weeds
‘dad – have you ever smoked pot?’
oh boy
i run a tight ship
there’s lots of rock n’ roll stuff
but it’s not like the corner of haight ashbury
there’s a part of me that wants to lie
and there’s a part of me that can appeal to his rebellious side
i opt for the truth
yes i tell him
‘a lot?’
no i tell him
i tell him that i was more into making money and meeting girls
and that i had my own car when i was seventeen
and that was a ton of responsibility
no pills no powders son
doing anything like that is telling me that you’ve decided to become
financially independent
and won’t need my help anymore
i think he got it
the lie would have been exposed
i’d got enough to atone for already
we swam out to a small island together
he smiled at me in the water
his beautiful eyes full of love
i felt it
a quiet bond
rock n’ roll

later that night
by the fire
the three of us sat close
i had my guitar
and played them workingman blues
and clay pigeons
they rubbed their eyes
kissed me
and both crawled into the tent
i stayed awake a while longer
took a small flask of whiskey from my pack
played a couple more songs
watching the fire ebb
and in that moment
i forgave myself for previous transgressions

craig
july 25, 2011
coffee and blueberries

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