We always ask for a friend to join us. Always. My thought being hell I would rather hang out at a gig with my friends than my mom. Well Sunday were going to see the Fuzzy Guys, also known as Four Year Strong at the Worcester Palladium in MA. Pretty stoked too as we get to meet the band preshow and all so… when the Magpie asked a friend of hers to join us she got a strange texted reply..
'well no offense and all and I think your mom is really cool, but my parents think shes sorta weird for taking you to all those shows..''
We were in the car when that came across. For a split second I stopped breathing. Never before had I stopped to think of the perception of others in the way I parent my child. Was I in fact the 'weird' mother who stomped into school in a biker jacket and a mullet with a nose ring and tattoos? Uh, no Im the one with the good manicure and the Coach bag.
I was hurt. Very. It doesn't take alot to hurt my feelings as anyone who knows me can attest I can dish it I can not, nor could I ever, take it.
I come from a long line of eccentrics. My mom the center of my universe who I eulogized here earlier this month was the writer of the book of life.
She a flaky hippy child swirled in techno color raised her four children to be free thinkers. I the youngest of the lot decided well I was going to see just how free that could be.
When I was entering 8th grade I made dreadlocks and tied fishhooks in my hair and became so obsessed with Adam and The Ants that I was practically a pirate. Mom, well she said fine, as long as I didn't get my hair stuck in anything and didn't use it as a weapon….or high school when I decided a mohawk is a great accessory to a Catholic School uniform…. or when we as a family took a trip to Florida and I sported a liberty spike mohawk……..hot pink. The stares she endured were nothing. Her philosophy? Do it when you're young… growing up comes soon enough. She was right.
Now what? As I have a pink haired princess myself. Knowing what I know about the 'scene', how can I allow her to be a part of it. So actively? So in depth?
Well that goes back to her earliest days…. As she grew she was exposed to music of all sorts. The Moody Blues and John Lennon, Joey Ramone and the Damned, and as she grew she got her own taste in music. She will kill me for this but her 2 most favorite songs as a toddler were by Lenny Kravitz and Train. HA! But she freakin rocked them like a pro. What a freakin awesome memory.
So as an only child so close to her mom, I labored long and hard with the decision of schooling. Enrolled her in the best private school in my area crossed my fingers and hoped for the best. She was and is very smart. She did great and made friends and grew and thrived and became stronger and wiser than I could ever imagine.
She knows right from wrong, she has better morals than I ever will and she stands firm and proud and brave where I could only cower. I can attribute great parenting I can attribute genetics I can attribute atmospheric pressure but the truth is I have no idea. The Magpie is uniquely herself. I took her out of there, into a public setting so the strict rules would not kill her individuality. She was strong enough on her own to brave the diversity of the 'real world', and anyway those prep school clone girls made me sick.
We have had many a life lesson in our rock and roll world. Most recent upon seeing Madina Lake and The Sleeping at the Webster Theater. As Mary approached the lead singer of The Sleeping as we were awaiting ML to come on he cordially posed for a picture with her and thanked her for attending. At show end she had the pleasure of seeing the same man drunk and fucked up on something or other covered in sweat while he chided his back stage honeys for some action. She was repulsed and I used this uncomfortable situation to life lesson her on all that sings ain't pretty, gave her a story on how Billy Idol threw up not 2 feet from me and how well… maybe thats not the way we want to be remembered.
We have rules. School night shows cannot be more than 2 hours from home. All homework must be done regardless of the event and we have a lap desk in case it needs to be done during our travels. No school day can be missed due to a show running late. The car is packed with a blanket for cruise home sleeping if need be. Mary is an honor student and a member of the National Jr Honor Society. She is an accomplished pianist, bassist and singer. She has been in many theatrical productions. We have an understanding that when and if her 'real life' begins to suffer. The shows and the 'extras' get shelved. She has personally shelved things on her own when she needs to focus on schooling. Best ever was when she said… "can you email Iman, let him know I'll get the review done right after geometry homework?'.. .she has priorities.
I asked her point blank her opinion of our lifestyle after that text. She looked straight ahead and said.. "when we're going to shows we're talking, I'm not sitting online complaining how bored I am or how much my parents suck, I'm one on one talking to and listening to you and you're listening to me'
So perhaps some parents would rather let the television or the internet do the job for them. Not me.. not my mom.. we want to be there, we dont want to miss it. I want to hear what she thinks about things, I want to hear her opinions I want to hear her and be there for her to ask the questions of life….
How do you rear a rock and roll child?
With your ears.