Episode VII: No Misgivings at Thanksgiving

(Some language as always will be a little salty and slightly NSFW.  Just so you know.)

No blog last week.  Because it was Thanksgiving and you wouldn't have read it even if I wrote it.  Thanksgiving week's always so turkey-butt bustin' busy I could barely check Facebook, Instagram, and Twitter.  What kind of holiday does that to a technological man?!  What holiday indeed?  

A holiday where you're surrounded by both ends of your being:  Your parents and your kids.  You're the fulcrum on that.  (I think it's the "fulcrum".  The inbetween thingie like on a teeter-totter?  That works, right, folks?)  Somewhere through after having kids and becoming that fulcrum, I've decided I actually like my parents and my kids.  Perhaps, I have some sort of sickness or I'm mentally unbalanced, but I enjoyed the hell out of spending time with both. 

I'm a fulcrum! (I think.)

I'm a fulcrum! (I think.)

It wasn't always that way.  Well, for my kids, I've always gotten along fairly well with them, kinda liked them, especially once they became verbal.  (Pre-verbal kids are basically like raising pigs you can't eat.  Or shouldn't eat.)  

But my parents and I haven't always seen eye-to-eye.  From a teen on into my thirties it was a minefield for everyone and I wasn't against throwing grenades from time to time into the minefield, creating cascading explosions of emotional carnage.  Because between us chickens, family is the ultimate danger zone.  (It's what Kenny Loggins was really writing about, not Tom Cruise shootin' missiles at Russians.)  

With my family, I'd argue anything and everything.  Politics, sports, movies, etc.  I had opinions that were RIGHT and any disagreement with my mighty opinions meant you were an idiot of the highest idiocy.  And if my family agreed with any of those opinions, it was a sign that I needed to change my opinions fast.  I remember arguing that Hall & Oates were empirically better than my mom's love of Simon & Garfunkel because Hall & Oats had more hits.  (I'm deeply embarrassed by this now.  In fact, it's pretty Garfunkelled up that I thought that.  Not that Hall & Oates are bad, but that Simon & Garfunkel are Simon & Frakkin' Garfunkel.  I mean, have you heard Simon & Garfunkel?)  

While they are singing The Boxer, they will box the emotions right out of you.  Don't mess with the Si and the Garfunk.

While they are singing The Boxer, they will box the emotions right out of you.  Don't mess with the Si and the Garfunk.

So a few years ago, back when I just had one son, he threw out some wisdom that shocked me to the core.  It was like I had that Sixth Sense kid or something.  He was two or three, filled with enough vocabulary to actually finally be considered a human.  Catching a glance of my young son in the rear view mirror after we'd just dropped off my parents at the airport after they come for a visit and trying to escape the clumpy tapioca traffic of LAX, he spilled out a truth that he shouldn't have had.  He looked up at me and said:

"You don't like grandma and grandma.  I do."

That wasn't true.  Well, it was and it wasn't.  I certainly liked my parents at the time and our relationship has grown stronger and better over the years since my sperm met an egg.  But at that time, my kid profoundly touched upon something where his relationship with my parents (and then his brother's as well) was less complicated than mine with them.  The grandparent to kid love is a straight line.  Simple, easy.  Grandparents are cool Ben Kenobi's and fun Muppet Yoda's (not angry, teachy Yoda's) they can have fun with, who can dote on them and want to hear everything they have to say.  Everything their grandkids do is adorable and even if your kids are little Mussolini monsters, it's just amusing to your parents, because grandparents are just fanboys for your boys.  

Now, it's not a surprise that when you have kids, it changes your parents.  All the times you thought your parents didn't care about you - or care about you enough - and then you have kids, all the unconditional adoration you felt you deserved is given to your right to your kids.  It's almost like parents wait to be grandparents with salivating maws, cocked and loaded to love like they never loved before.  Because they can.  Grandparents don't have any responsibility to these kids to do anything but love and laugh and spoil.  Parents can't do that.  We have to parent, to mould, to keep these kids in line, and prepare them for the world.  

All grandparents have to do is love.  Unconditionally.  

But it's not that easy for you.  The parent in the middle.  Because your kids don't have the tangled ball of the wretched past you carry with your own parents.  Hell, as a teenager, I became a rabid dick that wanted nothing to do with my parents.  Despite being a decent-grade gettin' no drinkin' goody-two-shoes, I was horrible to them.  (Just as I expect my kids once they become teens (or earlier) will be to me.  To be embarrassed every time I'm around and maybe even change their last name not to be associated with me being such a goofy smart-ass attention-loving dork.)  Because for a time there I really couldn't stand my parents.  (And I'm sure they couldn't stand my complain-y smarter-than-thou dickhole-ishness that I embraced.)  

Me and my dad in the 80's.  Or Some Kind of Wonderful.  I get confused.  (By the way, if you don't have that soundtrack, go get it now.  It's one of the best ever.)

Me and my dad in the 80's.  Or Some Kind of Wonderful.  I get confused.  (By the way, if you don't have that soundtrack, go get it now.  It's one of the best ever.)

Maybe it was what rock'n'roll taught me in rebelling against authority.  Maybe it was because there's nothing more easy and safe than rebelling against your parents.  Maybe it because I couldn't bridge that gap between what I liked and what they liked.  Maybe because it's part of the system.  It's part of growing up.  Maybe it's because as smart as I thought I was, I was pretty frakkin' dumb.

Because now, I love hanging out with my parents.  It's like finding a band you never knew existed and you want to get all their albums.  (Which is the case with a band called Sparks from the 80's that makes me so happy I might dance like Molly Ringwald all day.)

I'm constantly finding out new things about my family's past, things that take those two-dimensional figures that you only dismissively knew as your mom and dad and turn them into three-dimensional people that are all kinds of fascinating.  

I find out about regrets and heartaches and obstacles my grandparents had that make my constant worrying about things look like nothing.  

I hear stories of how living in the times my parents did were filled with far more uncertainty, surprises, and sadness than I could have ever expected.  

I realize now that I've sorta matured that I wouldn't be who I am without them doing what they did - both good and bad.  That my obsession with music clearly came from my mom and that as different as my dad and I were with loads of things, he always found a way to support my goofy loves from Star Wars to video games to picking up my first cassette of music, Styx's "Kilroy Was Here" from K-Mart on his way home from work.  Domo Arigato, Mr. Ro-Dad-o.

Excuse me while I do the Robot.  Badly.

Excuse me while I do the Robot.  Badly.

So now, through having my own kids and going through that looking glass, I find out how lucky I was to have been raised by my parents, even though I often had hoped to be raised on another planet by my angry Uncle Owen.

Thanks to my kids, I've changed.  I've done the thing my teen self never would have imagined.  That my teen self would snidely mocked me to tears if he knew:  

I dig my parents.   

(I'm so disgusted with myself.  I'm going to go to my room and listen to some loud and vulgar music loudly.  Or probably just the Some Kind of Wonderful soundtrack.)

I go crazzzzzzyyyy... When I'm without yoooouuuu...

I go crazzzzzzyyyy... When I'm without yoooouuuu...

So that's about it for now.  Thanks for taking the time to read this and I hope each and every one of you have a brilliant week, especially as it nears Christmas it's a full-on sprint of watching kids sing holiday songs at school and pretending that it's like watching the best concert ever and not like having your ears punched in the balls.

So long,

Patrick T.

The T stands for giblets