This post will inaugurate a “Best Of” series of column re-runs — early “A Dad’s Point-of-View” columns that may not have seen much in the way of readers. Thankfully, my writing and Social Media work have grown considerably since I began writing way back when. What I strived to do from the onset was to write about topics that had what I like to call evergreen value, meaning the topic was not time-sensitive.
I just returned from one of the best three-day trip of my parenting life. My son, Will, not yet 16, and two of his female friends and I drove to San Francisco to attend the Outside Lands Music Festival. It’s an all-day late-into-the-night, music festival on the Polo Fields at Golden Gate Park. There are multiple rock and roll acts performing simultaneously on several stages throughout the festival grounds.
The list of performers included such well-known acts as Incubus, Pearl Jam, Tom Jones (yes, that Tom Jones who has become a sort of icon to the younger set), The Black-Eyed Peas, and The Dave Matthews Band. On the more obscure side, especially to this ol’ middle-aged dude were acts I’d never heard of including Gooferman, Zap Mama, Kinky, Q-Tip, Albino, Dirty Rotten, TV on the Radio, Ween, Lenka, Cage the Elephant, and Heartless Bastards. Honestly, I didn’t make up any of these names.
It’s high time I wrote a column that stirs some reaction, creates some controversy, and isn’t so sweet and nice. No gratitude for surviving what should have been a deadly car crash, no treatises on the values of volunteering, or even about the importance of spending more quantity time with your kids. After all, this is a man’s point-of-view, not some touchy-feely new age guru. Look at the magazine rack at your local bookstore. The women’s section is literally full, while the men’s section mostly consists of magazines about cars, motorcycles, or supermen who climb ridiculously high mountains without oxygen. We won’t even talk about daytime television where Oprah and Ellen dominate. I don’t count Dr. Phil, for obvious reasons.
So, what is it that is so different and might rankle some of my by now loyal readers and fans (I can dream, can’t I)? It’s simply the notion that sometimes it’s necessary to be a selfish parent and think of yourself. This applies, in my opinion and observance, most especially to stressed single moms whose ex’s participate little or not at all, much as my situation was till I was blessed to meet ShortRib (my nickname for my wife) and re-marry. Frankly, either due to the fact I am a man or maybe an inherent selfish slug, I never suffered from this problem. I managed to find time for myself and the needs of the boys.
I keep learning this great lesson. It’s something I know, but seem to have to experience repeatedly for it to sink into my stubborn head. With kids, there’s no such thing as quality time, only quantity time.
Some people actually believe they can schedule quality time with their kids—moments when their kids will open up, reveal what’s really going on, and share. They want to schedule this time the way they schedule a business lunch. But, kids don’t work on these kinds of schedules. They open up when they’re good and ready, and it’s usually when you least expect it. This happened one weekend a couple of years ago with my younger son.