Father And Son

Anyone remember Cat Stevens? I had a chance to listen to some of his music tonight, with my 16 year old son. Alex loves music. Thankfully, Alex is a bit like me, and his interests are a bit eclectic. How many 16 year olds do you know that like to listen to everything from Red Hot Chili Peppers, Matthew Good, Queen, Chicago, Gordon Lightfoot to Frank Sinatra? Yup. Frank Sinatra.

Even I wouldn’t have admitted to liking Frank Sinatra at 16 years old. But Alex is cool, and he can admit to anything he wants. When I was 16, there were a few Irish and Scottish tenors I liked, but would never have publically told anyone that. But I wasn’t as cool as Alex is.

Anyhow, Alex has been staying with me for the past few days. Unfortunately, I have to take him home tomorrow. Home for Alex is about 5 or 6 hours away. So for me, it’s always special to have a chance to spend with him. Tonight, we listened to ‘Father and Son’ by the artist formerly known as Cat Stevens. I’m not quite sure he got all the lyrics – they sure mean a lot more to me now than they did when I was 16.

Oh, and Leanord Cohen. I don’t know why I like Cohen, but I do. Maybe it’s because so many Cohen songs seem to describe the relationship between Alex’s mom and me. And Cohen has a unique voice, just like mine. Only problem is, I can’t sing, regardless of how unique my voice is. But I try. After a beer or three. So, I introduced Alex to Leonard Cohen this weekend as well.

I’m really proud of this kid. In many ways, he’s a typical 16 year old. Other times, he seems like a young man with abilities and skills beyond his age, and I have to remember he’s still just 16. His mom has done a fantastic job with him and deserves a lot of credit. As far as day to day raising of the three sons we share, I haven’t been able to do the work she has done, that’s for sure.

But then maybe it’s also in his genes as well. Interestingly enough, he’s already showing signs of strong libertarian thought even without a whole lot of influence from me.

I guess most dad’s always reserve a special place in their heart for their eldest sons. All of them are special of course, but your eldest is the one you make the most mistakes with, and learn from. If they still like you when they are 16, I guess that says something. I’m pretty sure my auld man thought the same way about me. And thankfully, he was a good model to follow.

It seems to me that 16 years old is a good age for a son and his dad. At least in my experience. I remember up to about 14, I thought my dad was a god. After 14, I thought he was old fashioned and probably didn’t know much about what he was talking about.

Around 16 is when I started to realize it might be in my best interests to get a little bit of his knowledge for my own benefit. By the time I was 24 or so, my auld man was counted right up there with my best friends and he was one of the first I’d go to for advice, even when I knew I wasn’t going to like the advice. He was pretty patient in that regard with me too.

I think I got my eclectic interests from my dad. Although he hated “rock ‘n roll” because of his closely held Calvinistic Christian faith, he loved music as well. His voice was even more off tune than mine, but when it was just he and I in the car, he’d bellow out tunes, singing along with the likes of the Irish Rovers (even with their electric guitars), to trying to match the voice of Kenneth McKellar, introduced me to the awesome drum rudiments of pipe and drum bands, and even snuck in a Beatle’s tune once in awhile. Ok, so that’s not quite that eclectic.. but he also seemed to enjoy some southern Negro blues once in awhile too.

And of course being Northern Irish, he couldn’t listen to music without at least rocking a bit, and perhaps allowing himself the odd pleasure of letting his hands beat along with the rhythm, no matter how fast or slow. The Calvinist side would of course stop him from fully enjoying it, and he’d restrain himself as any proper Calvinist would do. Not quite like Cat Steven’s, “I gotta let it out.”

Maybe there’s something to this ‘like father, like son’ thing. I’m not so Calvinistic as my dad was. But then Alex doesn’t share all of my good traits, either. He does seem to have good taste in women though. That’s a shared trait.

Regardless of shared traits, it’s been a pleasure to spend time with him. I have to take him home, and I’ll miss him. But then, my son James is coming back with me – and James is another son I’m proud of. After James, I’ll spend time with Colin. And then there’s my little two year old, David whom I get to see and spend time with everyday. All of them are awesome sons to me.

Hopefully, I can sing to them all, “Look at me, I am old, but I’m happy…I was once like you are now, and I know that it’s not easy to become when you found something going on.. but take your time, think a lot, why think of everything you’ve got for you will still be here tomorrow but your dreams may not. How can I try to explain…”

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