"The only true currency in this bankrupt world....is what you share with someone else when you're uncool." - Phillip Seymour Hoffman as the late great rock critic Lester Bangs in Almost Famous.
Most of you have already figured this out. I am uncool. Having a blog is probably the signal but my parenting is the dead giveaway. Two years ago I blended my family. I am now a dad to 3 girls, aged 14, almost 7 and almost 6. None of them think I'm cool. The ringleader is my 14 year old, known in this blog as Tay. She campaigns on the platform of my uncoolness. When I met her, a little over two years ago, we hit it off immediately. I could make her laugh easily. She hugged me a lot. We just got each other. I dare say, we were friends. As her mom and I became serious, it was Tay who first asked the question "so, mom, are you two going to get married?" Her mom and I had barely discussed that subject. Something happened and I don't think I was given a memo or even a text message about it happening. We stopped being friends and I started being her parent. I think it was right after her mom and I did marry, she turned 13 shortly after. Suddenly, she starting treating with the same disgust she had exclusively given her mother. I was told to knock before I entered a room she was occupying. Hugging her was not on any agenda, especially hers. Laughing at anything I did or said was not a possibilty and the eyeroll replaced the giggle. The cold hard truth is I should have seen it coming and ignored the reality. I had the same feeling when I met Tay as I did when her new sister, Bug, my six year old, whom I gave birth too years earlier. (I know, but I refuse to acknowlegde that Bug came from someone else other than me).
In the past three weeks, I have not even tried to achieve cool with Tay, or the rest of my kids. While in Florida on vacation, I complained about the skimpiness of her swimsuit. Even my wife told me to get over it. Then, I dictated the arrangements of a playdate with Tay and her friend who is a boy (I don't use the other word and I refuse to call themgetting together as anything other than a playdate), the cold stares and argument that ensued were far from pretty. Today, may have been the topper.
Tay asked to purchase the new Eminem CD, Recovery, released June 21st to rave reviews and huge sales figures. Several of her friends have the record. Her mom resisted. I did some research, knew my results would be F words, sexual references, and general anti-social lyrics and themes, and offically denied her Eminem aquisition. "But I know his songs already. They're not that bad. Other people have it. This is ridiculous. Whatever, Lame." was her reaction. She should have called me a pathetic old man and gotten it over with.
I thought I was cool. Look at my CD collection for crying out loud. I can quote cool things, people, I have six tattoos, a twitter account and ablog. Wait, I'm not helping my case. I'm a parent. At times, I'm a really good parent. Part of being one of those is knowing what limits to place on your children. Bedtimes, grade expectations, safety requirements, and certain entertainment restrictions are part of the dad manual. That manual is really uncool.
My parents won't remember this, but in 1984, I wanted to buy the Whitesnake album Slide It In. David Coverdale's Led Zepplin ripoff band, Whitesnake had catchy pop rock songs drenched in double entendres and usually had sexy videos featuring scantily clad women. I was starting to think all of those things were really awesome. While in our local Turtles record store, I picked up the cassette, asked my mom if I could get it with some money I had from a part time job, she took it from me, yelled at me for wanting to bring that trash into her house and said no loud enough for what I thought at the time, was every person I thought was my friend to hear. I thought my mom was not cool.
I don't think Tay listening to Eminem's album will turn her into a felon. I know she'll hear the stuff on the street. What I want her to understand is by limiting her access to profanity, sexual imagery and talk, and themes that she isn't mature enough to understand, I am helping her maintain some innocence while also not succumbing to what pop culture tells her is ok. Yeah, that is really uncool.
My teenager is a really good kid. For the most part, she's respectful, sweet, kind, and loving. She's so smart, it's scary. I am proud of her every day. For these reasons and because I happen to love her, I want her to be better than even the people she calls friends who may own the Eminem album. Since I like to act like this know it all music person, I want to go on the record as saying, I have listened to 4 songs off the Eminem album. It's his best work in 8 years. He'll probably sell millions, win some awards and become even bigger and better than he is already. He won't get any of my kid's innocence, in my house, on my watch, with his album. If that makes me lame, ridiculous, and uncool, then I might as well pull my pants up to my armpits, wear white socks with dress shoes, and hit the Golden Corral at 4:30pm tomorrow night for the all you can eat mashed potatoes. Actually, that sounds pretty cool.
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