Archive for the 'The Kids Are Alright' Category

I just cried.

Oct 09 2012 Published by under Ramble On,The Kids Are Alright

Actual tears.

In my car.

While sitting in my driveway.

Stupid WDST had to play stupid John Lennon’s stupid “Beautiful Boy”.

Stupid radio.

That’s a song I used to sing to my beautiful boy while I rocked him to sleep.  I sang to him all the time – mostly Beatles and Grateful Dead – with the occasional Metallica mixed in for good measure.   But it was “Beautiful Boy” that I kept returning to, night after night.

So why then, you might ask, would I actually cry about it now?  A grown man of 46 years crying about a song he sung to his son 17 years ago?  Come on man!  Buck up!

Well, I guess because I was taken back there – to 1995 – with everything still in front of us.  I remember sitting and wondering how things would go over the next year, two, 10, 20?  Would he be an athlete?  Would we have a great relationship?  Would he be gay or straight?  Would he have health issues?  Would he do drugs and make our lives hell?  Would he have brothers?  Sisters?  Cousins?  Would he be smart and go to college?  Would he be a lady killer?  (duh)

Would I always be there to protect him?  Provide for him?  Could I be half the father that mine was to me?  (still working on that one)

And after wondering all those things, before I put him in his crib, I would whisper in his ear: “There’s nothing you can do, ever, to make me stop loving you.  Nothing. Ever.”

I wonder now if he realizes that is still true?

After the struggles of his early teenage years, and the battle to pull him off the wrong path he certainly found himself on.  There were battles – TONS of battles.  And there are wounds.  Was I too tough?  Could I have handled things differently?  Should I have?  Would it still have worked and spared us the scars and wounds?

Recently Brady has taken on a couple jobs that put him in front of a lot of people in this town.  People I know well, and some I only know a little.  Over the past several months I have had many, and I mean many, people come to me, out of the blue, to tell me what an incredible young man he is.  His work ethic.  His visible happy, well adjusted attitude.  His smashing good looks, sense of humor, intelligence and kindness.  I of course only take credit for the smashing good looks ;)

Is he the man he has become because of me, or in spite of me, as I suspect?

There are several lines in the song that kill me.  Lennon was a genius of a lyricist – it’s such a simple song that hits pretty hard, I would imagine, to any father of a son.  But the line that just rips my heart out is “life is what happens to you when you’re busy making other plans”.  It’s so true – and I need to focus on the life part, while still making those plans.  Seventeen years goes by like THAT!

Here are the lyrics – written by Lennon for his son Sean.  You’ll notice I changed the last line when I sung:

Close your eyes
Have no fear
The monster’s gone
He’s on the run and your daddy’s here

Beautiful, beautiful, beautiful
Beautiful boy
Beautiful, beautiful, beautiful
Beautiful boy

Before you go to sleep
Say a little prayer
Every day in every way
It’s getting better and better

Beautiful, beautiful, beautiful
Beautiful boy
Beautiful, beautiful, beautiful
Beautiful boy

Out on the ocean sailing away
I can hardly wait
To see you come of age
But I guess we’ll both just have to be patient
‘Cause it’s a long way to go
A hard row to hoe
Yes it’s a long way to go
But in the meantime

Before you cross the street
Take my hand
Life is what happens to you
While you’re busy making other plans

Beautiful, beautiful, beautiful
Beautiful boy
Beautiful, beautiful, beautiful
Beautiful boy

Before you go to sleep
Say a little prayer
Every day in every way
It’s getting better and better

Beautiful, beautiful, beautiful
Beautiful boy
Darling, darling, darling
Darling Brady

 

 

Brady – if you’re reading this – go clean your room.

 

 

Me at 18 and Brady at 15:

 

here’s the song:  http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=Lt3IOdDE5iA

6 responses so far

Manhood. A User’s Manual – Part II

Jan 02 2011 Published by under Manhood User Manual,The Kids Are Alright

Chapter 2: Driving

Well, today you turn 16.  And of course everyone is asking you when you are going to get your learner’s permit, and your license.  You’ve already driven around a couple parking lots – big stupid circles – just to get the feel for how a car works.  And you’ll need a ton more practice with that of course, but you also have to get a feel for how the whole concept of driving works – not just the mechanics, but all of it.

There are some mantras I often spurt out – and you’ve heard them – about driving:

  1. a car is a weapon, use it wisely
  2. you’re not the only one with the weapon
  3. people are stupid (this does not only apply to driving)
  4. if someone can do something so imaginatively stupid and dangerous, they will – expect them to do exactly what they should NOT do (again – not only about driving)
  5. you can call me any time, any day, regardless of the situation, and I will come get you or send someone to you.

So let’s talk about these things a bit.

Most cars weigh between 2500 lbs (like a camry or something) and 5000 lbs (a van or large SUV).  And get this:  a loaded tractor trailer can weigh up to 80,000 pounds (or more with a special permit).  That’s fucking heavy.  Cars and trucks are made out of metal and glass and are filled with gasoline.  Car accidents are the LEADING CAUSE OF DEATH FOR TEENAGERS IN THE UNITED STATES – killing on average 5,000 kids (aged 1 to 20) a year.

That, and the following statistics are from the Center for Disease Control:

  • Among male drivers between 15 and 20 years of age who were involved in fatal crashes in 2005, 37% were speeding at the time of the crash and 26% had been drinking.
  • The presence of teen passengers increases the crash risk of unsupervised teen drivers. This risk increases with the number of teen passengers.
  • In 2009, about 3,000 teens in the United States aged 15–19 were killed and  more than 350,000 were treated in emergency departments for injuries suffered in motor-vehicle crashes.

Other Stats:

There are approximately 21 million teenagers between 15 and 19 years old in the US.  So, some simple math will tell you that based on these statistics, (350k out of 21million) 1 out of every 62 kids will be sent to the hospital due to a motor vehicle accident.  You have 500 facebook friends – 8 of them are going the the emergency room – and possibly worse.

And finally:

In more than half of the fatal accidents in the US, someone was speeding.

In more than half the fatal accidents in the US, someone was under the influence.

Scared yet?  It’s a dangerous weapon and even when you THINK you have it under control – when a 2 ton piece of metal is hurling down the road at ANY speed – it only takes a split second for that control to be gone.

Keep all of this in mind every time you open the car door – as a driver or passenger.  And of course, remember:  people are stupid.

OK – enough scared with stats talk.

Some general rules to keep in mind:

1) don’t use the fucking phone.  Not to call, not to answer a call, and not to text.  Don’t check facebook while driving, don’t even READ a text while driving.  Studies have shown that a drunk driver can stop a car 10 times faster than someone who is texting.  To be honest – the best thing to do is to turn your phone off when you’re driving.  Whoever needs to get ahold of you can leave a message – and when you get where you’re going (alive) you can turn on your phone and see what they wanted.  Whatever it is that they had to say, can wait until you are parked safely.  I promise.  And yes – that means your mother and I as well.  I have access to your phone records.  If I see that you sent a text or used the phone when I know you were driving, you lose both the car and the phone for a very long time.

2) obviously, you already know – don’t drink and drive – or use drugs and drive.  One drink is too many.  Alcohol not only impairs your ability to drive and slows your reflexes, it also causes you to feel a bit invincible, and to make decisions you shouldn’t make.  Go ahead – pick up ugly girls when you’re drunk – make stupid bets you can’t win – tell all your secrets to a stranger – get naked and run down the street – but do NOT get in a car.  I promise that I will ALWAYS arrange for another way home – either me or a taxi if I’ve been drinking too – and there will be no trouble that comes from it for you or your friends.  No questions asked.  If you can prove to me that you made the one lifesaving important decision - you’re not going to get in trouble and I will go to bat fighting for your friends to their parents as well.   That of course does not mean we won’t have a discussion the next day – but you will not be in trouble.  I love you too much to even THINK about a policeman knocking on my door to say you’re in jail, in the hospital, or worse.  Make the right decision – even if you are thinking you don’t need to.

3) #1 and #2 above also apply to being a passenger.  Do NOT get in a car if YOU’VE been drinking.  Period.  Even if the person driving says “no – no – I’m fine!”.  He’s not fine.  He’s drunk.  Call me.  If they’re texting, get the phone away from them or get out of the car.  Again – call me anytime and I’ll get you home.  Your friends will think you’re a fucking moron for not letting them text – but you’ll be an alive moron.

4) Speed kills.  Duh.  Never do more than 10% over the speed limit. I used to go 80 in a 65.  I don’t anymore because I realized it’s only saving me a couple minutes per hour while adding risk.  Who cares.  Keep it at the speed limit or a little above – and even slower if you have to use your lights or your wipers.  In other news – no cop worth his badge will pull you over for doing 10% over the limit – unless you’re drunk or using your phone.

5) Aggressive driving kills.  Don’t get mad at people who do stupid shit.  Expect it.  They’re stupid.  The best thing to do is to smile and drive away – even give a little “sorry” wave.  Let them win.  Who gives a shit?  Curse under your breath when they’re gone – but just let them go away thinking they were right and you were wrong.  No harm in that – really.

6) Don’t do stupid shit like bumping the bumper of your friend in front of you at a red light, “peeling out”, speeding, screeching to a halt to impress your buddies or any other show of “bravado”.  Use your testosterone for sex – not for driving.  It’s much more fun.

7) Never allow people to give up their right of way.  You’ve seen me do this, and you’ve heard them get pissed and call me names – but the truth is that 10% of all accidents occur because of a “right of way” breech.  I absolutely HATE it when some idiot who does NOT have a stop sign, stops to let me go thru my stop sign.  The big problem is that no one ELSE knows he’s doing this – so they all continue to follow the rules of the road – and then BAM.  I was a passenger in an accident due to this sort of thing when I was a teenager (17?  18?).  We were the car that didn’t know that some idiot had forfeited his right of way to someone else – and we were lucky that only the cars were totaled.  If someone is doing this, wave them on once – then don’t look at them again until they are driving past you – ignore their stupidity.  And of course – don’t try to be the nice guy by forfeiting YOUR right of way.  Follow the rules of the road and do what is expected of you – not what the stupid people want you to do.

8 ) if you’re driving, or a passenger in a car, and your curfew is 9pm, then you are LATE if you’re in the house after 8:59.  If you are late, your curfew is then 8:30.  If you meet the 8:30 curfew 10 times – you earn the 9pm curfew back.  if you miss it – you’re rolled back to 8pm.  If you roll it all the way back to 7pm – the keys are mine.  There are no exceptions unless you get your lazy ass a job that requires it – and then the curfew will be based on the time you are leaving, and the distance home.  I will not budge on this.

9) The number of miles (or number of times) per week you are allowed to drive will be directly related to your grades.  Your last report card had an average of 92 – but that included Gym.  Once you get your license – gym won’t count.  Keep it at or above 90 and there will be very few limits.  No, you’re not driving to school – at least not until you’re a senior.

10)  It’s my car.  Period.  You will pay for gas, insurance, registration, and maintenance for the PRIVILEGE of using my car.  You will follow all rules so that you can continue to have this privilege.  I will take the car away from you at my discretion - BUT ONLY if you break a law, or the rules involving the car or driving.

11) as always – throw me under the bus.  You know the deal.  If you hesitate to tell your friends “no” about something – drinking, racing, texting, whatever stupid thing they want you to do – do not hesitate to say “dude – my fucking father is a total asshole if I break the rules and somehow he ALWAYS knows what I did.  There’s no fucking way I’m doing this because i don’t want to deal with him and his stupid shit.  Trust me – it’s not worth the hassle to me – and yes – I will get caught.  He’ll give us a ride no questions asked though. I have it in writing.”

I love you.

I want you alive.

Please have patience with your mother and I as we go thru this.  It’s an exciting time for you.  But for us all we can think of is that we will become parents of a statistic.  It’s our worst nightmare.

If you are reading this and not my son – please feel free to give us all other ideas – especially if you’ve already been thru this nightmare with your own kids.

12 responses so far

My Seinfeld Entry

May 25 2010 Published by under Ramble On,The Kids Are Alright

So it’s been a while.  A long while.  I’ve been busy, and also kind of uninspired.  But I thought for purposes of, well, for no reason whatsoever, that I would write something in my blog.

So there you have it.  I wrote in my blog.  See you in a couple months.

Ok.  I know.  My public needs more. (ha!)

So I’ll get you caught up on what’s been happening at Casa Clem…

The kids are alright.  They’re doing the school thing.  Grace is finishing up the spring soccer season – they are 4-1-2 I think.  I hate sitting on the sidelines though.  I’m very critical of the coaches.  There’s room to be.  It makes me want to jump up, push them aside, and try to teach the kids something – ANYTHING.  These guys are worried only about which field the next game is on, and whether there will be enough kids at the next practice.  They worry about these things DURING THE GAME – while wandering around paying no attention at all.   UGH.  Anyway.  Grace has said she wants to play Field Hockey and Lacrosse (be still my heart!).  She also wants to dance again, thanks to Zoe (our somewhat adopted daughter – though that would make the fact that she’s Brady’s girlfriend kinda creepy) and her recent recital.  Grace has the bug again, and I think that’s great – would love to see her back up on stage.

Brady.  (hold on a sec while I remind myself what it was like to be a 15 year old boy…… ).  He has been thru a LOT of shit in the past 12 months.  I won’t go into details, but each time he has impressed me with his reaction and/or recovery.  (though obviously, it sometimes took a while!).  And believe it or not – he actually asks my advice now.  Every time that happens I look around for the hidden camera.  He really enjoyed playing for the JV Tennis Team this year.  Said he likes it more than football!  Then he blew out his ankle in gym class and missed the last half of the season.  Oh well.  Kid has been in the emergency room 5 times in 15 years.  Not sure what the average is – but that’s more times than me and Kelly combined.

So yeah – kids.  Check.

My business is starting to pick up.  I’m wrapping up websites and marketing plans for several clients, and so far they seem to just keep coming at a steady pace.  We’ll see if i can maintain.  On the photography front – Kelly and I will be shooting a wedding in a couple weeks.  Kinda nervous about that I guess, but we’ll see how it goes.  We also had a hanging last month, and sold a photo (yay us! and thanks M&J!).  We’ve been asked to hang again, but it’s the same day as the wedding, so maybe not.

Blah blah blah.  ZZZZZzzzzzzzzzzz…z…z………z

Hey wake up! We’re going to Italy.

No.  Not you – WE.  Us.  Me and mine.  I’m not going to say when – because then all the stalkers out there (yes you) will know we’re gone and will hide in my house and read my porno magazines.  Ew.  And also:  just ew.  But yeah.  We’re taking the kids, and we’re bringing Kelly’s mother and aunt.  (I’ll wait for you to stop laughing).  Actually, if I had to bring someone’s mother-in-law and aunt-in-law – well, it would be them :)   We’re also going with Uncle Numpty (aka Nickerson) and his beautiful bride – and two members of her family – who are simply coming to serve as a buffer between me and The Numpty.  I just hate the smell of bologna. (there are 40 people who read my blog – and 30 of them are going “WTF?” right now).  Mark and I will be doing some research and making some connections for Beyond Travel.  That, of course, means that we’ll be stopping at every winery we can find under the guise of “hey – we own a travel company and maybe we’ll send you clients if you give us free wine”.  Yeah.  Dat’l work.  Even if it doesn’t, I hope that we’ll be able to do a few decent blog entries from abroad over at Beyond Travel.

So there’s my blog-about-nothing.  Consider it one of those letters people put in their christmas card that tells you that they had their boil lanced and that awful wart removed.  OK, maybe not that bad.

Hope to be back on these pages before the trip – but if not – well, too bad.

And for the record, I already miss “Modern Family”.  Actually I only miss Gloria, but, yeah.

3 responses so far

well, that’s what some boys call it…

Jan 12 2010 Published by under The Kids Are Alright

It started out pretty innocently really.  Salmon, rice, salad.  Dinner for five.

(B’s um, “Thing” was here.  They’re not boyfriend/girlfriend, you understand.  But they have a “thing”.  That’s what they say anyway.  Personally, I don’t have a “Thing” I lay around on the couch under a blanket in the dark with.  I have a wife, but not a “Thing”).

So yeah.  Dinner on a Tuesday at the Perry house.  No big deal.  B did something – I’m not really sure what – and someone called him a loser.  (probably his “Thing”).  So he said “no way man – I’m a WINNER”.  And of course – i’m a dork – so I said “that’s right – you are a wiener.”   Ha Ha – I’m so funny.  Eyes were rolled, groans were groaned.

But then it got fun.

‘Cause that’s when G started laughing and covering her mouth.  Kinda like she knew a secret.  I asked her what was so funny – and she said “I know what one of those is”.   “One of what honey?”  ”I know what a wiener is”.

Well – of course Kelly and Brady and “Thing” kinda snickered.  But I looked at G and said: “huh?  what?  what’s a wiener?”  More laughter from G.  ”No really honey – do you mean like a Dallas Hot Wiener?  With mustard and onion and sauce?”  (a reference to a local hot dog establishment here that if you ever get a chance – well – duh.)  So that’s how it went for about 10 minutes:  ”no daddy”.  ”oh – you mean like a ‘wiener dog’ – one of those long short dogs called dachshunds?”  (giggle) “No!”

So of course B and “Thing” are smiling a little, and Kelly is covering her mouth with her napkin trying (and failing miserably) to look like she’s not laughing – and of course G is getting embarrassed.

But that’s ok.  That’s all part of my plan.  See, I want her embarrassed a little – but I keep pushing and pushing until she feels she has to say something – regardless of the embarrassment.  The way I see it – if she, at 8, can get to the point where she can tell me what a “wiener” is, even if she’s embarrassed – then there might be a little hope that the communication channels will remain open later when we’re talking about more important things.  Like what boys like to do with their wieners.

So after some fun and joking – and a little bribe in the form of a carbohydrate she really wanted more of (yeah – I know – healthy – but ya gotta do what ya gotta do) – she decides that she can whisper it in my ear.  But only after B and “Thing” leave.  In fact – she even told “Thing” - ‘YOU have to get out of here’.  So finally…

whispered: “it’s what boys pee out of.”

Oh, no. Uh-uh.  It’s not enough to just hear it once.  Not if I’m your father will you get away with that just once.  So of course I tell her I didn’t hear her – “what?  you said something about pianos?  huh?”

She buries her head in her arms – and I see immediately that she’s done.  So I give in a bit and say “here – let me whisper it back and see if that’s what you said”.  So I did, and she said “yeah – that!”  (big smile)

So I asked her if she knows what one of those is REALLY called – what the “proper” name for it is…

Her answer:    ”Yeah – you know – ‘nuggets’…”

Ok.

Then I lost it.

Kelly may have blown a bit of salmon out of her nose,  I’m not really sure – but I remember her saying “WHAT???”.  And G proceeded to tell us: “well, that’s what some boys call it”.

Looks like there’s an anatomy lesson in our near future.   And I’m not sure I’ll ever offer the kids hot dogs and chicken nuggets again.

5 responses so far

Reflecting

Jan 03 2010 Published by under The Kids Are Alright

Yeah – so new year.  new decade.  Like everyone else this time of year – I look back and look forward.  The turn of the calendar causes us all to reflect back on the past year.  but for me, there’s the added “bonus” that my son’s birthday is on January 2nd.  This encourages me (against my better judgement) to reflect deeper.  So I end up not only looking at what happened last year – what was good, what was bad, but also – an entire lifetime.  His.

I’m pretty sure every dad out there (and mom too, for that matter) knows the feeling that you’re totally fucking up your kid.  That something you did way back when has damaged them beyond repair and they are going to grow up and not only hate you – but write a scalding book about how horrible you were, which of course will become a Lifetime movie, and all your friends will talk behind your back and you’ll lose your job and you won’t be allowed to see your grandchildren and they will withhold your social security and you’ll die lonely and ashamed and they won’t even find your body laying on the kitchen floor for like a week which is fine cause you wanted the whole closed casket thing anyway but oh the disgrace.

What?  You don’t worry about that?  You probably should.

So add to all that – which is what I reflect on every year at this time – the fact that yesterday he turned 15.  FIFTEEN.  As in pimples, hormones, girls, sex, alcohol, drugs, sexting, high school, hickeys, the-ever-looming-driver’s-license, the-also-ever-looming-college-costs and of course a complete and total know-it-all attitude because you were never 15 so you have no idea what it’s all about and now you even have grey hair and smell like cheese.  Ok.  I made that cheese thing up – but you get the point.

HELP!!!!!!!!!!!!

Seriously.  I want to get off.

Ok.  Not really.  He’s actually a pretty cool kid – and I know that everyone else with a 15 year old is going thru this too.  Last year was kinda tough – but the road has actually been pretty smooth the past few months.  He went thru some tough shit in 2009 (such as losing a part of his finger) but he’s adjusted well, is learning to roll with the punches, and, most importantly, he’s teaching me a thing or two about patience, and how to hold on while letting go.

Of course, as I sit here in my office typing this, he’s in his room across the hall, playing Xbox live with his friends and yelling “dammit!  why are you laying in my way you faggot?! – you should have used ‘predator missile’ you dumbass! – just stop talking please… whispered: fuck”

Sigh.  Back to the drawing board.

6 responses so far