RSSFather Knows Nothing
I like to take a moment to communicate directly with the great Alice Cooper.
Alice, I don’t want you take this the wrong way, but I really think it’s time for you rewrite the lyrics to your classic rock song “School’s Out”. Here’s the thing, Alice. Kids today aren’t really listening to Alice Cooper. But their parents are still fans, and the lyrics don’t really speak to us anymore. When school really is out for summer, we’re no longer giddy with excitement.
I understand that you wouldn’t want to change the lyrics to help us get over the “yikes, they’ll be home all day, all summer” fear—that wouldn’t fit the tone of the music. But what if you rewrote the lyrics to be about school going back in session in the fall? That’s when we feel the excitement that your power chords so eloquently convey.
I’ve never been a honker. I don’t like being honked at, so I almost never honk the horn. In my mind, there are only two legitimate reasons to do so.
#1: You’re about to crash into someone.
#2: Someone in front of you is not paying attention after the light has turned green.
I often talk about how much my two youngest sons fight, and I know that most people just think “Oh, my boys (or girls) fight too—it’s just normal behavior.”
And then they see it in action.
They usually don’t feel the same way after they see it. The intensity may be similar to most typical fighting sibling situations, but the sheer quantity of the fighting/arguing is really staggering. It’s relentless, perpetual, and loud. When you hear it as much as I do (especially in the summer…will this summer never end?), it has a tendency to fray the nerves a bit.
My oldest son Tommy loves music, which is fine. He also loves wearing his iPod ear buds all day and night, which is not.
When I call him to come down to dinner, he doesn’t hear me. I have to walk into his room, and wave my arms in front of his face to get his attention. As you might imagine, that can become slightly annoying.
Tommy also brings his headphones with him wherever he goes. I have had many, many, many discussions with him about this, and how rude it is for him to wear his headphones in public, and after much debate we finally came to a compromise. He could wear one ear bud, but not both of them. I figured that one ear was better than none.
This past weekend I turned 50 years old. I had a nice weekend with my family (my brother even came in from Detroit to visit which was greatly appreciated). We saw the U.S. Soccer team win the Gold Cup at Soldier Field together.
But this was really a whole weekend celebration and it kicked off on Friday night when I invited a bunch of my buddies to come play garage poker with me. We usually do this about once a year, and we really look forward to it. We smoke cigars, have a few beverages, and when we remember, even play a hand of poker or two.
Unbeknownst to me, my buddy Dave had planned a special celebration for this particular episode of garage poker. It was described by the rest of the fellas as a work of performance art, and I have to agree. He brought a large packet of envelopes, and handed them to me one at a time. Each envelope contained a birthday greeting.
I was working for radio legend John Records Landecker 16 years ago when a momentous item arrived in his mailbox: his AARP card. John was one of the first of his generation (the Baby Boomers) to receive one, and it irritated him beyond belief. He cut it into little pieces, and sent it back with a note saying something like “My father is the one in AARP, not me.”
We did a bit about it on the air, and many other Baby Boomers called in to say the same thing. To a person, they were offended to receive the card. John even asked me to help him write a song about it, which we did. The song is called “Baby Boomers” and it’s to the tune of “Louie Louie”. These are the lyrics…
I’m a Baby Boomer, oh yeah, And I’m getting old.
Every parent with multiple children runs into this issue eventually—one of your children (or maybe all of them) eventually believe that you favor one kid over another. It’s inevitable.
In our house, my middle son Johnny is convinced that we favor our youngest son Sean over him in every dispute, and there are many, many, many disputes. Johnny is a powder keg with a short fuse, and Sean is a lit match. They can’t be in the same room together without something happening.
After about seven years of this, I’ve officially reached the end of my tolerance. When disputes erupt now, I simply send them to different corners of the house, and tell them to stay away from each other. Then, when tempers have cooled, I’ll try to convince each of them to take responsibility for their own actions. It works for a day or two, and then match ignites fuse again, and blammo.
June 17th is a big day in my life, and it’s been that way since I was born. It’s kind of spooky actually how much it has followed me around.
To begin with, it was my father’s birthday. It was also his sister’s birthday (my godmother). She was born exactly three years after my dad. We celebrated that day every year of my childhood, and it often fell on Father’s Day, which I felt was a bit of a ripoff to my dad. Most dads get two celebrations, but he only got one.
My first girlfriend in college was also born on June 17th. So was my second girlfriend. And they were both born in the same hospital in New Jersey. How strange is that? My college roommate was also born on June 17th, making it even weirder.
If you see me this week and I look a little twitchy, there’s a very good reason for that. School’s out for summer. That Alice Cooper song no longer brings me glee. Now it makes me nervous, because I know that “School’s Out” is a synonym for the following math equation:
(3b + 1d) /f = 24/7yikes
(Where b=boys, d=dog, f=father, and yikes=yikes)
When I was still working in morning radio in Chicago, I always dreaded Tuesdays. Getting up at 3:00am on a Monday morning was difficult, but not impossible. I was usually well rested from the weekend, and eager to start a new work week because I truly enjoyed the process of creating a morning radio show.
On Tuesday mornings when that alarm went off at that godforsaken hour AGAIN, however, it was a different story. I knew I was literally going to be dog-tired every second of every day for the rest of the week, and there was absolutely nothing I could do about it.
I’m no longer getting up at 3:00am (and don’t miss it a bit), but in my house, Tuesdays are still the worst day of the week for me. Tuesday night is when our high school calls to let parents know their students are struggling. I’ve been getting these phone calls nearly every Tuesday now for the last three years, so I can tell you exactly what that computerized voice says…