I have to say I was pretty affected the other night at the Candlebox gig, particularly by the middle band on the bill, Cinder Road. They're Baltimore favorites, but may or may not ever achieve the breakout success they're pushing for. What resonated stronger than any song they performed in their well-polished set was the love of their lead guitarist for his son. As the guitarist looks well like a younger Dave Mustaine before Mustaine's Metallica-era strawberry blond locks fell past his shoulders, picture, if you will, a four-year-old pint sized version next to this guy.
These big and small hairballs tramping through Towson, Maryland's Recher Theatre was a sight that brought smiles from everyone. Even greater, however, that Dad brought his little man onstage during Cinder Road's set with his own guitar. The child strummed and strummed while his smiling daddy peeled off a solo and struck rock god poses next to his progeny. At one point, the boy gently pushed his father away, which made us all laugh, but at the end of the set, you just had to give a proper horns up to this lighting of the torch moment between man and boy.
I may not always have a smile for my son. Let's face it, parenting is hard and it often sucks. Children are too young to recognize sacrifice though sometimes they recognize effort and love. It's half the reason they act out as they do, to get more of that effort and love, even if the end result at the time may present redirection and brief flashes of anger.
My son is adopted and he's a very special kid. He knows it and he milks it, but he is a damned fine young man and I'm proud to be his father. I may get annoyed if he wakes up too early and hauls me out of bed, or worse, he's there when I get up early to beat my family's rise to the day when I need peace and quiet to get my work done. If he smarts off, oh boy...
Being head of household is strenuous enough. Putting together the pieces of a shambled life is plenty of responsibility itself. Trying to be a father and husband while pursuing my professional goals and aspirations, well, now, there's the rub, as they say. It's not a gimme way of being and I do laugh when people think all I have to do in my life is write reviews and interview bands. As if.
The random slack-off here at the site is indication of my juggling act that finds me in many places doing many things. A lot of it has to do with the welfare of my family. They come first, no matter how badly I want to tell my readers which albums they should be listening to and ones they might want to step aside from. Trying to come up with the winning formula for my novel and side projects to win an audience is what compels me to stay up late and get up early and it's all more imperative with a child in the house. Like the classic GBH song goes, it's a race against time for me.
Still, for my occasional crankiness at it all, I do love that kid and when I'm not about to fall on my face, I do enjoy showing him things, teaching, watching Superfriends before bed and letting him tackle me outside as I teach him football. I took my family out to Washington, DC this past weekend since the Smithsonian museums are free and let me tell you, nothing made me prouder than watching that kid go bananas, pointing here and there like a junior explorer thirsting for knowledge. The following day he was asked if he wanted to be a doctor, an astronaut, a superhero or whatever and he answered very emphatically, "No! I want to be Daddy!" That gets you, believe me.
I thought of that while watching the Cinder Road set. I thought how proud that father must be to have a little doppelganger of himself onstage and how well the kid took to the moment. Scared that child was, but he wanted to do his not-so-old man proud up there and it was incredible to behold. My son did likewise last Christmas in a holiday recital thrown by his former day care. He looked me right in the eyes with a heroic swell and did his job up there. Pretty amazing stuff. Since my kid wants to beat on my drums, you bet I'll encourage that.
The point is, no matter how busy life gets, no matter how badly you want your own needs and wants to be fulfilled, love your kids if you have them. I have to remind myself of it each day when all I want to do is write and edit all night and morning and the boy comes scurrying out to the sound of my pecking keys. It's not always easy, but you have to love 'em.
We now return you to our regular programming...