Monday, January 9, 2012

Perspective

                   

                                    Father
                                    It's not time to make a change,
                                    Just relax, take it easy.
                                    You're still young, that's your fault,
                                    There's so much you have to know.
                                    Find a girl, settle down,
                                    If you want you can marry.
                                    Look at me, I am old, but I'm happy.
                                     
                                    I was once like you are now, and I know that it's not easy,
                                    To be calm when you've found something going on.
                                    But take your time, think a lot,
                                    Why, think of everything you've got.
                                    For you will still be here tomorrow, but your dreams may not.
                                     
                                    Son
                                    How can I try to explain, when I do he turns away again.
                                    It's always been the same, same old story.
                                    From the moment I could talk I was ordered to listen.
                                    Now there's a way and I know that I have to go away.
                                    I know I have to go.
                                     
                                    Father
                                    It's not time to make a change,
                                    Just sit down, take it slowly.
                                    You're still young, that's your fault,
                                    There's so much you have to go through.
                                    Find a girl, settle down,
                                    If you want you can marry.
                                    Look at me, I am old, but I'm happy.
                                    (Son-- Away Away Away, I know I have to
                                    Make this decision alone - no)
                                     
                                    Son
                                    All the times that I cried, keeping all the things I knew inside,
                                    It's hard, but it's harder to ignore it.
                                    If they were right, I'd agree, but it's them they know not me.
                                    Now there's a way and I know that I have to go away.
                                    I know I have to go.
                                    (Father-- Stay Stay Stay, Why must you go and
                                    Make this decision alone?) 

                                     

                                    This Cat Stevens (now Jusef Islam) song was my absolute favorite as a kid.  When I was 12 or 13 this was my anthem.  From an album given to me by my rebellious, anti-Vietnam War sister Ruthie. I WAS the son in this song.  My parents would never understand my heart.  We were simply worlds apart.  We would always be.  To say that I was a contrary kid would be an understatement.  If something was black to my parents, it was white to me.  If they were Republican, I was a Democrat (even though I didn’t have much of a clue as to what that meant).  They wanted me in Catholic school – I knew it wasn’t right.  Short hair? Long hair!  Straight legs? Bell Bottoms!

                                    Was it biological?  Do kids, as a way of transitioning away from their parents, naturally push back to  prove their independence; to make the inevitable break from home easier? 

                                    When I got my first guitar, a three-quarter sized Toyota for 60 bucks from a pawnshop, “Father and Son” was one of the first songs I learned.  And I sang it loud.  With a purpose.  I was the Son.  How can I try to explain?  When I do he turns away again. 

                                    While my parents took care of every one of my basic needs, there were long stretches of time when our conversations did not go very deep, when we were passing ships, when we tolerated each other but did not really connect. If they were right, I’d agree, but it’s them they know not ME.  Now there’s a way, and I know that I have to go away. 

                                    When it came time for me to leave to go to college I was ready to go.  It was time.  And I carried that song with me.  Some of my friends knew it and we sang it together.  We were the sons.  Our parents couldn’t understand us.  We were on our own and glad that we no longer had our folks hovering over us.  And I know that I have to go away.  I know - I have to go. 

                                    After college, when Heidi and I were a couple of DINKs (Double Income – No Kids), I still played that song but I was ambivalent.  While I was still a son, I wasn’t the Son.  My folks and I came to love and appreciate each other.  I still played that old song, but I did not feel that huge divide. 

                                    Years later, when I had kids of my own and I played them lullabies and my old folksongs, “Father and Son” was still in the mix.  By then, it was just a great song from the old days and brought back the memories of my foolish anger and pride.  I was a father but I wasn’t the Father.  Not yet. 

                                    Now that our boys have grown to young men I have this peculiar knowing that I am on the other side now.  At 54, having now lost both my parents, I find myself looking into the eyes of our kids and wondering where did that time go?  And how did this happen?  Because our guys are just about ready to both be gone for college, and while I know they’ll come back – it won’t be the same.  They will be the ones happy to be on their own, independent, wanting to move forward into their future and not thinking much about looking back.  While we have provided everything they needed through good times and hard times, they’re on their way.  And I am the one who doesn’t understand  - my Sons.

                                    It's not time to make a change,
                                    Just sit down, take it slowly.
                                    You're still young, that's your fault,
                                    There's so much you have to go through.
                                    Find a girl, settle down,
                                    If you want you can marry.
                                    Look at me, I am old, but I'm happy. 
                                     
                                    I know that I have said it before, I LOVE these two handsome men.  But I will always miss those two cute little boys who played naked in the surf and woke up with messy hair and crawled into bed with us when they needed to.  I miss those guys who cared about what we thought, who sought advice and asked for help, who I bathed and read to and sang silly songs with. 

                                    But it is THE WAY.  I know that now more than ever.  They will have these feelings too one day.  And while “Father and Son” is not their anthem.  I recognize the Son’s feelings in them.  And I also know that some day they will probably connect to the Father.

                                    Stay Stay Stay, Why must you go and make this decision alone?  

2 comments:

Chris Hass said...

I sense you were a much more rebellious teenager than I was. Is karma real? I hope so because then I might escape with a relatively easy ride from our kids. Doubtful, but I can hope.

While I largely had an easy going childhood I still remember thinking that when I was a parent "I'd never forget what it's like to be a kid." Needless to say I don't remember at all. I might think at times that I do but I'm misguided, I know. I think part of it is that I obviously value different things now (of which acceptance is very low on the totem pole). I'm certain this keeps me from fully understanding the problems the kids occasionally face at school.

The line that stands out most to me in the song is "From the time I could talk, I was ordered to listen." I try to avoid preaching but find myself doing more than my fair share. Like many things in life, parenting is harder in practice than in theory (what an understatement, right?)

He needs to write a new song from a grandparent's perspective. That one has to be all ice cream, board games, and giggles. Doesn't it?

Mamafamilias said...

I was getting ready to write my comment and decided to read Chris' first. Pretty unreal how all of his thoughts and words match my own. Especially the grandparent part, 'cause that's where I was mainly going.

The good think about being a grandparent is that I KNOW, now, how fast it all goes. And it's going even faster and faster as a grandparent. That's why I have all the fun I can with them now, even though I'm old and they wear me out. It's just that I know my days are numbered as far as them wanting to spend time with me. Friends and activities will soon take more and more of their time. That's just the nature of it, and I realize and accept that.

So I will continue to play Candyland as often as they want and by whatever rules they want to go by.