When our teenage children look at us they think we have no idea how it feels to be there age. It sounds like they think they are the first to ever have heartache, peer pressure, be a loner or not sure where they fit in. I’ll be honest, I never went to my dad for advice about life and how to deal with things I just learned as I went through them, and as you can tell I turned out perfect. Haha, but I wanted my kids to come to me with questions about life and sit and have those Folgers commercial moments. You know the ones where the coffee smell woke up the father with a smile and he came down to his kids sitting around the table with smiles to talk about life. Well at least that is what I imagined. I always tried to get my kids to talk but they never opened up and I know it is because I was not the easiest to talk to. I wanted so bad to be that super dad and I missed that mark by a few feet. I didn’t want to be my dad so bad that I never learned how not to and thought I could do it on my own. You can not change the path of life if you never learn how you got there in the first place, or ask for new direction. Children go through things and it is part of growing up, and all I ever could do was let them know that I was there. Even if they never used that hand it was always there. When I think about my children growing up I have a huge smile and a heavy heart because inside I feel I wasn’t what they wanted in a father. I know I can not go back and change what has been played out but I acknowledge what I was and hope they can come to me for advice as parents one day and I can impart into them what I know I did wrong and how they can change that for the better. It was never a lack of love, but a lack of knowledge of what a parent is. As teens we did not see what our parents were going through to deal with us, but we felt our problems were so much more. As parents we say your problems are nothing compared to those of adults. Food, clothes, a roof over your head, a car to get you around and don’t forget about everything else you want. Those are adult problems, but the biggest is figuring out how to be a good parent to an ever changing and grow teen. Nothing is more difficult then that from both aspects of the teen and parent. I’m not sure where exactly this rant came from but my heart must have been heavy with it and now it is out there for all to see, or at least a couple.
I have had the opportunity to be home with my kids during the day and take them to school and pick them up and help out in their classes and field trips since they were in kindergarten. Working the 3:30 to midnight shift allowed me that opportunity. I feel blessed to have been able to do that for them both, but when I was I school if my dad had to be called for something it was taking him out of work In turn meant he was not getting paid and this may be an issue. So at all coat I tried to avoid him having to be called or asked to come for a meeting at school. I actually had no family at me graduation because I was somewhat tricked into going. That is a story for another time. This brings me to a time in my freshman yeah, which was pretty crazy because I was kicked out of one high school and had to go to school in another district. I was used to going to school in a pro dominantly white are because at that time they were busing us from the downtown area to the white schools and vice versa. I bet some of them white parents were pissed about that. It wasn’t a choice we made we were told where we would be going. Half stayed half went, but I was fine with it and got used to it over my middle school years. By my freshman year it was the normal situation, but then I was made to go to another school in an area that was totally white and did not has a segregation situation going on. 2600 student with about 10 to 12 of us being of color. And in the end we were all friends. I had never dealt with racism I my life. It was late 80s early 90s and I was in California. We had it all and it was okay cause we got along. With my new friends in the land of snow it was fun being popular in our own way. The kids stared at us like we were diseased but the faculty talked to us like we were not good enough and a waste of time. I’m thinking about one specific time when I came in to school like normal on a Monday. I took several buses 2 cities away to get to school which means I’m getting up at 5:30 and leave by 6 to start at 7:30. Sitting in first period and the teacher is walking around lecturing about what he likes and dislikes about the youth today. Long hair, ear rings, jewelry and this hip hop music is disruptive and he would never allow it. As this is being spoken everyone in class is looking at me because what he should have said was anyone that looks and acts like him is a waste. I had long hair, my ears pierced with my gold chains and a yellow Sony Walkman blasting Eric B and Rakim. Oh well I knew this was the perception people had of me here but it was shocking to have him be so blatant about it and in class. As the class went on the teacher spoke about how the school had been vandalized over the weekend and they were trying to get to the bottom of what had happened. About 10 minutes later I hear my name announced over the loud speaker along with the other 9 of my ethnic friends. Sitting in the front office against the wall waiting to be taken into the principals office and I was not even sure what was going on. As we waited our parents started walking in the office and sitting next to us and all I kept thinking was please God I hope they could not get a hold of my dad. I hear the door opening and I turned to look and it was my dad and he was not the happiest of campers. He sat down asked what did I do and as I started to answer he said be quiet and we waited for the next 10 minutes in silence until we were called in. The principal invited us into his office where an officer sat and after sitting down himself began his interrogation. So what made you do it he asked. I was stunned and stayed quiet because I had no idea what he was talking about. You had to have known you would be caught? Again I stayed quiet and my dad spoke up asking what was going on. Over the weekend we had someone come onto campus graffiti on the walls and break windows. What makes you think my son had anything to do with this? Well before him and his friend joined our campus we had never seen anything like this so we came to them first. My dad got this anger over his face and said your telling me you called me from work because you think my kid did damage to your school because him and his friends aren’t from here? Are you really being this racist right in front if me? The principal tried to calm him down and the officer spoke up saying he wasn’t being accused just brought in for questioning. My dad turned to the cop saying where are the white kids? The officer looked at him bewildered and replied what? Why aren’t there any white kids out there? Are you charging my son with something? Their reply was no because there is no evidence who commutes this and my dad grabbed me and picked me up saying come on. The principal asked where he was taking me and he replied home because you guys have no idea what your doing. When we walked out my dad told the rest of the parents what was going on and they all got up with their kids and left. The next day returning to school we had gained a new reputation as rebels for going against the administration. As we left I looked at my dad and said thanks for believing in me and he said he knew I wouldn’t do something like this and was upset I had to deal with that. I knew my dad would always be there for me and after that I had a new love and respect for him. The funny thing was that was not the only time something like this happened at that school. I will have to share more another time. Even though I was afraid at how my dad would react about being called from work he was okay with it if it meant backing me up and showing they were wrong. We are the biggest backers of our children and have to let them see that. I love my kids and would be there for them at the drop of a hat.
Sticks and stones
May break my bones
But names will never hurt me…
This is one of the biggest loads of crap you can fill your child up with. Words can damage you far more then what any doctor can possibly fix. Some are short term, but then a few will carry on your whole life and torment you when you think about them. I know bringing up the bible can push some away but in proverbs 18:21 it says the tongue has the power of life and death. What we speak can affect others in a positive or negative way. As a parent this is sad to think about because looking back I know I was not perfect but some of the things I said still kill me inside. I grew up with my dad because my parents divorced at an early age and I decided to go with him. It was my dad, older brother and myself living where ever we could because I had an alcoholic father that found it hard to find a steady job. It was never an easy time growing up when I think about it but my dad always did what he could to keep us taken care of with shelter and food. Even when it was an actual shelter like our runs at Agnews hospital because we were homeless. I remember being dropped off in the mornings at my moms to get ready to go to school because we had to be out of the hospital first thing in the morning and had to be back by night time or we couldn’t get in. Well look at those times I can see how hard we had it and how much my dad really tried. Well back to the storyline sometime within my high school years we were living in another motel in a bad part of the downtown area but I was used to it. It was a single room for me and my dad because my brother had moved on a longtime ago and had begun his life and family. Well I would get ready and leave for most of the day to hang with friends and go to school. I was always trying to get out and stay away so I found girls to hang with and get close too. I was seeing this one girl and spent a lot of time with her but I was always embarrassed to bring her to see where I lived. I was getting ready one day and it was nothing special but my dad looked at me asking where I was going and I told him I was going to see a girl I was dating and he was a bit drunk and said yeah right you don’t have a girlfriend. It shot right through me like really my own father believes I can not get a girl? I again ignored his words and questions and he said well why haven’t I ever seen this so called girlfriend and I said yeah why would I want to bring her here it’s embarrassing. His face went blank, I had just touched a nerve that I had never seen before. He was hurt by my statement and then turned it into anger slamming stuff and yelling how I was embarrassed of my dad and what he was providing. I just left making it easier for both of us and by the time of my return he was already passed out never to bring it up again. Those words had done something inside of my dad because he did all he could to provide and I had shot him down and that was his manhood. I never apologized for those words and until this day it still hurts to think of the pain I caused him. A cut could have been healed but my words scarred him more then I ever knew. I love you dad, rest in peace.
Thinking about my day and what my teenage boys are up to sends me back to a time when I was a care free teen. I have to think back a ways to find the time when I had my first taste of so called freedom. Freedom being no parent to worry about or looking over my shoulder asking me what I was doing. Growing up with my parents separated gave me the opportunity to roam free at an early age. Dad was doing his best to support me and keep a roof over our heads but that story will come at another time. At 12 I had some how became friends with a group of guys that were more in the 17 to 19 age bracket. I started smoking and drinking and experimenting with other drugs that I really do not understand why people enjoy them. These guys were my friends and I enjoyed being able to do things I couldn’t have done on my own because these guys were older. The brothers were 19 and 17 and lived two house from the railroad tracks. There parents were the only couple still married out of all our parents and seemed to be pretty well off. The oldest a wanna be rapper and his brother who was just crazy. That’s all I can say about him is that he was crazy. Then there was the kid from New Jersey with dirty blonde kinky hair whose dad was an under water welder and they bought the house on the corner. The dad was a single parent of two boys and a girl and wanted to start of fresh for his kids and came here. Little did he know what they would get into. Then there was the grandmas boy who lived above the pharmacy with his grandmother and looked a lot older then anyone but was 19 himself. This was the group of guys I hung out with daily and became really close with. From 6th grade to freshman year these were my boys and I learned what kind of friends I really wanted based on these relationships. I lived in a shared housing situation with my dad. They took these old Victorian homes and made each room into a rental and we shared the bathrooms and kitchen with 10 to 12 other people. Privacy was not an option when you lived like this so a lot of the time I wanted to be out. I left with the sunrise and got back in time for bed. During this time I was more of a cigarette smoker and drinker then anything else, but the guys smoked a lot of weed, cocaine was a weekend luxury and pcp was a drug of choice if they had a choice. If you have never experienced this drug please do not start now. Having your friends girlfriend start screaming because foam has started coming out of his mouth is something I will never forget. I was probably 13 now and we were partying at a friend of a friends house right across from mine and feeling like everything was perfect. For some reason I believed this is what life was all about. Growing up with this as part of your life made it seem even that much more normal. The oldest of the group there was in their early 20’s and had a baby asleep in the room. It was a little apartment with a connected kitchen and dining area. A small bedroom where the baby was and a little bathroom with a shower and tub combo. Reminds me of a cheap motel by the freeway when I think about it now, but this was a place to party with no worries. We filled the place with music, random mixtures of smoke and plenty of alcohol and laughter. I had some random girl sitting on my lap because there was no more room to sit, but you know I didn’t care. A hand on her thigh as I drank whatever I had in a cup and a couple friends started pouring some white stuff on the coffee table. Rolling up dollar bills and chopping it up with a drivers license or ID card they were about to do some lines and started telling me to try it. At this time I had only smoked weed and that was as strong as I got, but with a girl on my lap and a drink in my hand I felt like what the heck… It can not be that bad. You look back to instances in life and just say why but why is not my question. I really wonder how I never became addicted to all these things I had done in my past. Take that half a line up one side and then finishing it off in the next I had no idea what to expect, But I carried on like a big boy. I noticed the oldest brother get up and go in the bathroom which pissed off everyone because it was the only toilet in the place and he was in the for a while to smoke his joint laced with pcp. His girlfriend was very clingy and always right by his side so of course next to the bathroom door there she stood as he smoked away. After 10 minutes I had forgotten about him and was wrapped up with my own feelings being brought on by whatever I had hoovered into my face canal like an idiot. Her scream is what woke me up from my day dream and I got up and went to check on her to see my friend laying in the bathroom. I had never saw a dead body in my life, but if I had it probably would have looked like him. Clammy and pale with white lips and not breathing. Who knew what to do? I was just helping pick him up and his brother yells through h in the shower so we did turning on the cold water and hoping like a dying plant it would revive him. After a minute or so he shook and opened his eyes upset for us wetting him. What the heck? He is still high eyes barely open and slurring his words he begins to claw his way out of the tub and gets up walking with his girlfriend outside. She is yelling crying at him and he pushes away taking off down the stairs which amazes me he made it down and into the street where a car hits him. Again his girl screams and we run out to see the car taking off and he stands up stumbling around but walking thank god. We bring him back into the house where the mood has now changed because of all the excitement and people left so he laid on the couch and fell asleep. You would think after this crazy night and him sleeping it off things would be fine In the morning right. Well it probably would have been just fine if when he woke he didn’t have a broken leg from getting hit by the car but we didn’t know cause he was so high he didn’t feel it. I can say a broken leg isn’t that bad compared to what could have happened that night. I do not know what any of those guys are doing these days but I do hope like myself they found their way after being through so much and seeing things I will never forget.
Everyone thinks they will put pen to pad, or fingers to keyboard and the great American novel will come pouring out like the mighty Mississippi, but in reality most of what is written is only important to ourselves and does not help others at all. Who cares if what I write does not turn on that dim light inside of you and illuminate your path. I write to let out the dribble within me. It is not my intention to make this world a better place with my rambling, but to show everyone we are not all perfect so do not be afraid to share your differences. I believe any good piece of writing though should have some type of tale to tell and hopefully inner twine some personal story that makes us all feel like the lesson learned is meaningful and worthwhile. Each time I post a piece I will share a personal story that is not really going to teach you anything but I feel is pretty entertaining . What am I writing this blog for? Well I guess I’m one of those that feel what I have to say is important or entertaining. I am probably delusional in that thought and if no one reads that I will be just fine. Well here is the first of many little stories to come. In high school, like many I had my issues and it took sometime to find my identity. I wasn’t part of the gangs per say, but I did hang around with guys that had ties to many places. One of my close friends parents at the time had a restaurant that we would do stuff for when needed. One morning they needed someone to go pick up the produce for the restaurant before the day started. This was something that was pretty uneventful and idiot proof to complete. If you know anything about the produce business, you have to get to these distributors early in the morning around 4:30 or 5 and the night before we decided we were going to drink and get high and just stay up. We were 16 at the time, no licenses, way beyond drunk and no one should have been driving. And for us to make it even more challenging we decide to take two cars. One is an 60’s truck that barely ran because we needed a place for the produce and the other was my friends moms car but that also meant we needed a second driver. I will admit when we partied I was my friends copilot all the time and driving was never an issue for him, but a second driver was going to be a gamble. I was not driving at the time and was going to start now, the oldest guy of the group was 19 and basically being carried along with us and the last one a 14 year old that was not as drunk as the rest but very nervous to drive. We decide he could drive the car with sleeping beauty and we can take the truck pick up the vegetation and get to the restaurant and have some breakfast because that was a huge advantage of knowing someone with access to food cooked for you. Free food at your call. Now we are drunk with a load of produce at 5 in the morning heading into the heart of the downtown area mind you my pilot is puffing on a joint to sober him up and a 14 year old behind us with a drunk adult riding shotgun. For me those times when reflected upon are very scary. Much of what we did was illegal and yet there was no parental supervision or figure telling us to stop. The restaurant was closed, but we had the keys to let ourselves in and unload and by doing this felt we deserved food so we cooked breakfast and of course had a few beers to go along with it and a case for the ride home. The quickest way to wake up sleeping drunk? Food…. And of course more alcohol. Everything seemed fine while we laughed and ate in this place that we had been to so many times before. Just the regular routine for us. We clean up and it’s time for the ride home. Our sleeping giant had arose and in doing so felt he should be driving, but even in our state of mind we knew he was not capable and in stating this he was irritated but got in the passenger side with his prepubescent chauffeur and began the short ride home. We drove behind them so in case a cop did pull up it was behind us and not them. We did look out for each other like family. It is probably around 7 am now and the sun is is rising and the streets had little activity. We are laughing listening to whatever tape was our theme for the time when we see the drunk passenger beginning to taunt the kid driving by pulling the wheel and making the swerve. In hindsight should we have pulled over probably but who knows if the would have stopped with us. We stay close but not to close and can still see the jerking and swerving until…. The car shoots quickly to the right and head-on into a very large unmoveable tree. We slow down to see the passengers face had went through the windshield but the driver was not moving. We were drunk, high and now freaking out so we drove a couple blocks up to the passengers house and started walking back when we find the playful copilot running our way like a bloodied face bull and his let eye had a chunk of glass stuck right above it and the lid had been torn through exposing his eyeball. He continued running home while we worked our way towards the wreck to see a cop was already there and our young friend was up walking with a blood dripping left hand. Later we found out his teeth had went through his hand when his face hit the steering wheel. Our young thug did some time for this and ratted out the shenanigans puller which ended a few friendships and also got him a free vacation. I can still clearly see the car running into the tree and my friend going through the windshield like it happened yesterday. As youth we do not see consequences and the long term of our actions. I had a crazy life and sharing it here is allowing me a release and a bit of fulfillment you can say. Not that I am glamorizing my childhood antics but just to show we may have started off one way, but we don’t have to stay that way.