I’m a tremendous admirer of Cyndi Lauper.
Strange way to begin this piece, I know, but if you’re willing to travel a bit with me, all will become clear I promise. To clarify, I admire one specific Lauper song, Time After Time. It is, in my opinion, one of the most beautiful songs ever recorded, of any genre.
If you’re lost you can look and you will find me
Time after time
If you fall I will catch you, I will be waiting
Time after time
It may not have been Cyndi’s intention, but to me those lyrics embody what it means to be a parent. As creators of little humans (who we always see as little regardless of how big they get) we feel a responsibility to protect and shield them from any all pressures/dangers they may face.
Growing up, I always believed in the concept of “Super-Dad”, the ultimate personalized hero, who was ever on guard and ready to smite monsters in closets or school hallways, wipe bloody noses and provide a guiding light through the seemingly-endless darkness. (Obviously I watched a lot of sitcoms in the Seventies.)
My own father was not “Super-Dad”, to say the least.
He was the monster in my life.
So naturally, becoming a father took on a deeper responsibility to me. I was determined to stray from the path laid out for me and be the best damn dad I could be. Of course, being me means I’ve failed more than succeeded (I’m happy to report that you can drop a child several times and she’ll still become an Honors student) but I keep swinging. My daughter and I have what I consider to be a healthy, open friendship rather than the traditional parent/child relationship.
But I’ve come to realize I can’t be a Super-Dad. I don’t know if anyone can anymore. heck, I don’t even know if anyone ever was.
Has anyone else noticed just how much angst modern teens are swimming in these days? When I was a teen I certainly wasn’t concerned with my future. Not unless it involved putting my hands on a pair of breasts, that is.
Today though, kids are graduating high school with the weight of the world already on their shoulders. And if they haven’t mapped out a life plan for themselves that will ensure success? Well then, look out, because things are going to get stormy…
I’m not attempting to make light of a serious situation, far from it. Actually, I’ve seen far too much teenage angst to ever be able to mock it ever again. At this point it is important to note that while my daughter’s privacy is paramount to me, I can’t help but feel compelled to share my experiences as a father to a teen who is struggling to establish her own identity.
All my daughter wants from life is to be a writer like her old man. But a successful one. The fact that she hasn’t achieved that dream yet, at eighteen, sometimes eats away at her. Literally. As her father I feel helpless watching her anxiety manifest itself in physical form. I often feel myself suffering internally as a result of my own psychological anguish.
My daughter is an Honors student. She’s a ridiculously-talented writer. She has secured gainful employment entirely on her own and excels at her job. The kid lives at home and has two parents who are not divorced or crazy (most of her friends cannot make the same claim) and who dote on her as parents should.
But my child feels lost. And I know she’s far from alone.
And that’s as far as I’ll delve into her life. I know it’s not my job to embarrass/scar my child but rather to lift her up.
And so that’s what I’m off to do. Excuse me while I try to hug the kid and take her to a movie, won’t you?
See you in the lobby, kids…