June 15, 2014
Father’s Day Flashbacks
So I came out of my son’s reflections on father/son relationships relatively unscathed. Apart from being a guitar hog of course. More on that later.
Every year when Father’s Day comes along, I get a few flashbacks. Like the first time you bring your first newborn baby home. All the backslapping, all the wetting of the baby’s head, it all counts for nothing. You are on your own. There’s that sudden panic. That ‘What the hell do we do now?’ feeling. It’s a bit like setting up a new PC or a complicated piece of flat-packed furniture. You have all the bits laid out on the floor. You think you know what they all are. You have the instructions, but nothing seems to fit. At least the furniture or PC will stay silent, which is more than can be said for a baby that makes gurgling or disconcerting nappy noises every time you look at it, checking to see if it is still alive. You might have had a plan, but baby has another one and baby’s is going to win. If you can’t build the flat-pack because you don’t seem able to make those funny metal joint jobbies fit, you can always revert to nails and glue. In the worst case scenario you can go get another one. You can’t do that with a baby.
It all turned out allright in the end. We never had that bloody battleground of adolescent versus father. I see some families and it is like watching a war zone. “How did that happen,” I wonder – bossy dads and mums, sulky teenagers, tantrums all round. We missed that bit, thank goodness. It always seemed straightforward enough. If you talk to each other, you don’t need to shout.
I wanted to be good dad and tried damned hard. But looking back, I do cringe at that memory of who gets the lead guitar. We had both learned Gary Moore’s Still Got the Blues. I only had two guitars, an acoustic and a Squire Strat electric. And yes, we did both want to plug in the Strat. The acoustic strumming was just not the same. And maybe, well probably, I did pull rank. I’m only human, or is that almost human? Anyway, I needed the practice – John was a lot better player than I was. Early on, I decided to teach him all I knew. That took a week, after which I realized he needed lessons. He never looked back.
Some things make you really value your kids and (trust me on this one) one of those things is thinking that your family has just been murdered by a crazed killer. That was the night I came home from work and, as I walked up the path, found it covered in blood and what looked like flesh. I ran round to the back door, terrified about what I might find. Of course they were all safe. An escaped ferret (a kind of polecat) had attacked our pet rabbit. It grabbed the head and wouldn’t let go until Dave next door hit it on the head with a ball peen hammer. The head exploded, hence the gory mess on the drive. So I still had a family – and a bloodied rabbit. It sure made me see things differently though and now it’s just another Father’s Day flashback.
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