Friday, June 09, 2006


Just a few short weeks remain in my prolonged adolescence. The twins will be here no later than August 4th, and they could be here a month earlier. Lately a hunk of music has been stuck in my head. It’s an old song by the Beach Boys my mom used to play for me.

I didn’t have the kind of mom who used TV as a babysitter, but I did have the kind of mom who used the stereo as a babysitter. When she needed to distract me, she would put a big stack of vinyl on the record player and (depending on how many records she stacked) she could buy herself an hour or two of peace.

The good news for me was that my mother’s taste in music was excellent. She had stacks of Beatles, Rolling Stones, and Stevie Wonder albums. She also had the soundtracks from just about every musical produced from 1950 to 1975. And, of course, she had almost the entire Beach Boys catalog.

My favorite song was a 1965 single called, “When I Grow Up (To Be a Man).” I was obsessed with it for a while.

Because it has been running through my head for the past few weeks, I nabbed it off iTunes (God bless iTunes) and listened to it for the first time in probably about 30 years. My first reaction upon hearing it is that I had pretty sophisticated tastes for a 5 year old. It’s a really great song and deals with adulthood with a touch of excitement and fear.

(I should note that my tastes are not nearly as sophisticated as a film producer I used to work for, who was obsessed with the Eydie Gorme song, “Yesterday, When I Was Young” when he was in the 2nd grade.)

But back to the Beach Boys… “When I Grow Up…” basically asks a series of questions about adulthood. When I was 5, they were troubling questions. Adulthood seemed like a worthy goal, but it also seemed like it wasn’t very much fun… lots of working and paying bills and stuff like that.

While listening to this song from a new perspective, I realize that I am now living in that mythical adulthood I puzzled over as a child. A part of me wishes I could sit down with 5-year-old me and just have a short chat about what lies in store. Perhaps I could calm his concerns a bit and allow him to enjoy his childhood a little more.

Now I’m standing on the brink of parenthood, another event that I view with equal portions of anticipation and dread. Quite frankly, a little more dread than anticipation. I’m not really proud to admit that. But I really do feel much like that 5-year-old sitting in the family room, fretting about what comes next. Now would be a nice time for “Parenthood Matt” to beam back from 20 years in the future and set me straight.

That appears very unlikely to actually happen, but at least I can go back to the old family room and answer some questions for 5-year-old me…

When I Grown Up (To Be A Man)
By the Beach Boys

When I grow up to be a man
Will I dig the same things that turn me on as a kid?
Yes. Definitely yes.
Will I look back and say that I wish I hadn't done what I did?
More often than you might imagine.
Will I joke around and still dig those sounds
When I grow up to be a man?
You’ll get to joke around for hundreds of people in Los Angeles, it’ll be really cool. They’ll even pay you a little money for it. And you’ll still love music. You’ll attend hundreds of concerts. You’ll even get to interview some of your heroes for a newspaper. You can’t imagine how fun it will be. As it turns out, our mom putting you in the family room with all these records will have more influence on your future happiness than your or our mom can ever imagine.

Will I look for the same things in a woman that I dig in a girl?
You’ll still melt for soulful eyes and nice smile. But you’ll wind up wanting much, much more. Hint: starting making friends with the smart girls. The smart girls are where it’s at.
Will I settle down fast or will I first wanna travel the world?
You’ll want to see the world. See as much of it as you can.
Now I'm young and free, but how will it be
When I grow up to be a man?
It will be ok, really.

Will my kids be proud or think their old man is really a square?
The jury is out on this one, but the smart money is on “square.”
When they're out having fun yeah, will I still wanna have my share?
You’ll still want to have your share. Perhaps even more than your share.
Will I love my wife for the rest of my life
When I grow up to be a man?
This is probably the best news, the answer is a resounding “yes.” Just you wait.

What will I be when I grow up to be a man?
A small-market newscaster in Southern Oregon. I know, I wouldn’t have guessed that, either.
Won't last forever
That’s right.
It's kind of sad
Perhaps, but as our dad used to say, “it beats the alternative.”


At 12:08 pm, Anonymous Jezzie said...

How about a 36 yar old mOm, with the same sensibilities, from 14 years later? You are gonna do great, simply because you want to do great. Congratulations.
Don't dream for your children, let them dream for themselves, then help them interpret those dreams through the eye of experience as to what is actually feasible.
We have a poster here at work (I work with amputees) it says, "Climb high, climb far, your goal the sky, your aim the star." Use this as a guide for parenting and you'll do everything else just fine :)
Also, read this post today about her worries and how reality surprised her>> http://justlinda.net/
for some perspective, and you will totally get what I mean :) Jezz

At 5:00 pm, Blogger The Morey Family from Rochester said...

Hey Matt,
Thanks for the trip down memory lane and Mom's album collection.

I'm excited for you and proud of you and everything you've accomplished.

The kids are going to love you, because you'll love them, and tell them so.

Besides, "it beats the alternative." :-) (you have no idea how many times I've said that to Rachel)

At 3:43 pm, Blogger thirdworstpoetinthegalaxy said...

I only know you from a few blog postings. But even from where I sit, a thousand or so miles away, I can tell you're going to be a great dad.

Be sure to play songs like this for them in utero. I can still sing along to songs I haven't heard in ages, and I suspect that has something to do with my mother playing them for me when I was tiny.


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