Archive for May, 2010

…spanning time…
…how will it work out?
…not much to do now other than sit back, relax and accept.
Accept that whatever happens, it is what it is, it will be what it will be, it’s OK, it really is OK, and that life has really only just begun for him.
I can hear it in his muscle fibres, in his bones, in his eyelids, the chemical need for separation, the sub-conscious driven desire to be solo sans parents sans questions sans demands sans governance.
…will he able to govern himself in such matters as daily life?
I think so.
I got over my five minutes of panic as to whether he was going to shaft himself and his San Jose State place with slipped grades. If he does, he does. He’ll still go to a college. He’ll still make his way. He’ll be fine.
So yes, I think he’ll be just-about able to govern himself.
If I didn’t, I really would be worrying far more than I am.
“STOP THINKING ABOUT IT ALL AND KNOW THAT IT IS WHAT IT IS!” barked my Mum via e-mail earlier. Sounds like the sort of thing I say to people.
I pondered the thought and realized that I can’t be that worried as any spare time I can claw out right now is spent trolling the internet for clips from Man City away on May 5th, the night when I saw Peter Crouch nod Spurs into the Champions League and thought I’d explode with joy (or alcohol – later).
It isn’t spent panicking about his future.
Indeed, the only discussions we’ve had on serious matters this past week was me reminding him that people don’t have to accept his choices in life and he doesn’t have to seek their acceptance.
“Who gives a shit?” I said with the sort of wisdom dispensed by psychology gurus the world over, “as long as you’re happy with them and they aren’t harming anyone, have at it. But just always take responsibility for your choices.”
And that’s been it. Goodnight Vienna. Goodbye Lincoln. Hello universe. At least this-here cabbie can go into semi-retirement.
He’s e-i-g-h-t-e-e-n now, as of yesterday.
It is the end of the beginning, and the beginning has a big, fat middle to wallow in…

Not to worry, there’s plenty of ‘beginning’ left in my world. The pre-schooler is about to become a kindergartener, and boy, what a specimen she’s going to be there. I can hardly wait to see their faces. I’ve seen a lot of kids, but I haven’t seen too many nearly-5 year olds in chiffon skirts, cowboy boots, flower hair clips and pink t-shirts who want to listen to The White Stripes and like to Grischnackh.
She is going to keep me very young or make me very old.
Sometimes she can drive me mad; mealtimes often leave me feeling I’d have better luck feeding hunger strikers, but we get there in the end, and as for the repetitive questions, I don’t know why she thinks the answer will change because IT WON’T, IT WILL BE THE SAME AS IT WAS TWO FUCKING MINUTES AGO!!!!! But when she’s good (and by that I mean fun, not necessarily goody two-shoes) she’s very very VERY good. An infectiously naughty gurgling cackle, a mischevious sparkle in her eye, an energy which is always ready for fun, games and action…a love of words, a real love. She’s started reading here and there, she gabbers on like an 8 year old, and she loves to rhyme.
A ham. Yes, a total ham.
And always game for a laugh.
Like when we burst into the teenager’s room at 6am, blasting the most heinously loud death metal in the form of some bunch of aural terrorists called Bezerker, brandishing cake, flashing lights on and off and with her leaping and jumping all over him screaming HAPPY BIRTHDAY…yes…never one to miss a moment for loud fun.

Yet she remains occasionally, irrationally, nervous of loud noises. These days it’s fire alarms and fire drills. Every room, area, restaurant and space is currently quantified by how many fire alarms it has, and whether there might be a surprise fire drill.
“If there is it’ll be because we’re potentially on the barbeque,” I replied helpfully. In hindsight, I could’ve been a little less visceral.
So as you can see, it will be a fast ride. Occasionally bumpy. But I feel strong, ready, in good fighting shape.
We will make a formidable team she and I, and we will have much fun together, we already have done that’s for sure.

And he and I will continue with a relationship which has embraced great changes in both our lives yet remained close, tight, unbreakable between us. Love, trust and leadership. I think those are the most important things a father can give their child. At least that’s been my experience so far…

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Sometimes I sit and wonder. I wonder about things I have trained myself never to think about, most notably things which have happenED and are thus rendered unchangeable.
I wonder about the past sometimes, and I wonder if I could’ve done better.

I look at the youth, mere weeks away from being an 18 year old man, and I wonder ‘could I have done more?’
‘Could I have pushed him harder in the scholastic area? Could I have shut him down a little more on creature comforts? Could I have been a slightly better role-model at times? Could I have encouraged his scholastic area more? Could I have made him do things he didn’t want to do more than I did? Could I have given him more support? Could I have gone broke and paid for a private education?’
And then come the ‘woulds’.
‘Would that private education have dealt a grade A student? Would pushing his scholastics have resulted in a permanent disconnect from me? Would a few less creature comforts have made him work harder for some things or just become a resentful human being? Would me cracking a few less fart jokes and swearing a little less about football have made him a better human being or just a more straight one?

Questions questions questions. These are the ones that I suppose come up when college is around the corner, when their hormones are in full-tilt autodrive, and when despite themselves, they sometimes leave you scratching the dirt floor like a chicken who’s lost it’s head to a blunt farmer’s axe.

I love him, of course I fucking love him, and he is a good youth, he’s going to be a good man, a kind man, a decent man, a man who will help as many people as he can and a man who will always get the job done. A man who has warmth and a man who is, essentially, a gentle soul but can carry a protective exterior. But at times, whether it’s the drip drip drippity-drip of his hormones or the neg-neg-neggedy-neg negativity of his monotone, short-sentence responses, he leaves my brain tilting towards the things he isn’t and the things he doesn’t do and the things he won’t do and the things he can’t do. It’s insidious. I have never engaged in thoughts like this before, yet suddenly, the sharpness of his casual and entirely natural, non-personal defiance has me seeing the half-empty glass.

So you sit and recalculate. You take stock of the ‘coulds’ and woulds’, you don’t run from them, you settle down, sip some iced-tea and you deal with them one-by-one. And you strip your soul of excuses and reasons, you simply make sure it’s fortified with truth.
And as you answer the ‘coulds’ and ‘woulds’ you find yourself admitting home truths.
Yes, you could’ve pushed the scholastics harder, and yes you should’ve, because perhaps if you had he’d have found the appetite to do more than simply get by in class. But the truth is that it wasn’t as important to you as the type of person he became, and so it was less of a focus. And had you pushed it, he most likely would not have found the appetite for scholastic matters because his digestive juices, his pysche, his make-up doesn’t work that way. There’s always the chance you’re wrong, perhaps he would’ve gorged on school-fed knowledge. But you played the margins and here’s what that costs in real terms.

Could you have altered your behaviour? Probably. But for what? A conventional wisdom? Hahaha, I don’t tend to ‘do’ those unless it really seems brilliant. Would your own behavior modification have altered much with him? Not really, it might only have served to show him the important of hiding who you really are…that is if you’re the sort of asshole who thinks it’s important to hide who you really are from everyone.

He has a gold chain and an earring, but in the cold light of day it’s not so bad for a nearly-18 year old. His pants sit pretty much on his arse, his clothes look decent enough, he grooms himself…when I was nearly 18, I had a wild clump of long curly hair pouring off my head, thick tinted glasses and the one of those ugly, spindly, worm-like teenage moustaches. If I told you I looked like Weird Al, he might have to sue me for defamation of character. And the clothes? Some white cotton quilted jacket WITH A BELT!!!!! And aqua blue converse sneakers which were EXTRA HIGH. Jesus, I should not have been let of the house, and the fact that I was and escaped arrest proves that the neighborhood had vision issues. I tried to remember whether my Mum gave me a telling off and insisted I got changed, but then I remembered that even if she had, I probably ignored her. I was, at the time, dating a 28 year old woman, doing the odd flight to New York and back for the word of rock’n’roll, and generally doing my best to communicate in sentences far far shorter than the ones I wrote. I remember clearly that my Mum had a cancer-scare when she was in her early 40s, and I remember clearly that my teenage head was too far up my teenage arse to give her the support she might have needed (I sadly have had two chances since to make-up for it). I didn’t realize the severity of cancer or the reality of it’s presence in our lives. I wonder if, at that time, my Mum asked herself a list of ‘coulds’ and ‘woulds’? I suspect she did, but I now one thing. She didn’t tell me about it. Instead she let me get on with it, offering what support I’d let her give me when I bluntly asked for it, trying to be a parent but also trying not to suffocate me.

And so I have satisfied the ‘could’ and ‘woulds’ for now. I got it as right as I could’ve got it given what I knew at the time (as well as what I felt), and I certainly did get a few things of wrong, but he’ll live (as is evidenced by him being here). He will (as he always is) be absolutely fine. He does his own laundry and he’s worked enough jobs to know that responsibility. He’ll get over whatever finishing line he has to before it’s too late, and he’ll have many friends because he is a nice, fun guy. A good guy. Not a perfect guy of course. But a guy I’m overall very very proud of.

Sometimes I just need to sit and talk it through with you all. Thanks for listening. And don’t think it won’t happen again…

n.b. the soundtrack to this was provided by Boards Of Canada, one of the more wonderful spatial, ambient, drifty, dreamy, melancholic and quietly provocative bands I have ever had the pleasure of listening to…these two fine Scotsmen deserve a moment of your time. Try them when you need to walk away into the clouds and think…

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