Stories are audible photographs and I think the best stories told are the ones that remind you of other stories to tell, and so you do and so I will. Last week, I told a story about Watson that brought to mind a story about Parker that bears telling now…
This occurred on a snowy, wintry weekend when Parker was in 7th grade (for a full recap of the Winter Storm situation, check out last weeks blog). I was booked to sing and speak at a local church’s Winter Youth Weekend and Parker was coming on his first event as a 7th grade youth participant and I was going to have to navigate being both Dad and Rockstar on the same trip.
At this point a little clarification may be needed. “Rockstar” – I use that term loosely – I was a full time musician who was playing 120-150 shows a year and putting an average of 36,000 miles on my vehicle annually to do it. Like anyone who travels for a living, you are treated like a guest everywhere you go – primarily because you ARE a guest everywhere you go. In town for a day and then off again, people put out their best and treat you kindly. No one deals with you long enough to have to learn to deal with you. Kind of feels like being a rockstar. And when they were little, my kids certainly thought I was a rockstar – so, that is how I come to the final sentence of the last paragraph – that on this weekend I was going to have to navigate being both Dad and Rockstar on the same trip.
Parker and I were already full on in that phase of his childhood when I was cool sometimes and not cool sometimes and that first weekend retreat where he was a youth group kid brought this clearly into focus yet again. We talked about how we would handle the weekend and decided that on this trip he would be a kid, but not ‘my’ kid and he was going to pretend like he didn’t know me in front of his buddies.
And that was how it went for the whole weekend. With one exception.
In the middle of the first night, long after lights out and everyone was finally asleep, there was a knock at my door and a small voice saying “Dad? Are you awake? Dad?” I woke up right away and opened the door. I don’t know if it was nerves, I don’t know if it was too much junk food, I don’t know what it was – but Parker had woken up feeling sick. He sat in my room telling me his story, how he knew he was going to throw up but he didn’t want to do that in his sleeping bag and he didn’t want to do that on his friends so, somehow, he managed to quickly and quietly wind his way through the maze of sleeping junior highers and get to the bathroom just in time… almost.
Getting sick in the middle of the night is not an exact science, especially when you are nervous and trying to be stealthy and fast. Parker was determined that no one would know that he had gotten sick, so he cleaned up the bathroom with the only tools he had – his shirt. After he cleaned himself up, he came to my room to get another shirt (he may have been pretending not to know me but I did have all the extra provisions in my bag!) and for a few sweet moments that night, I got to be Dad and not Rockstar. Then he was gone, back to his sleeping bag and the rest of the weekend and pretending not to know me and the weekend went by without any other incidents.
And now, after all that has happened these last few years, I find myself neither rockstar or dad. Sure, I have lots of reminders of ‘yesterdays’ – CD’s, tour posters, photographs, school pictures, artwork made with dried pasta, a couple of industry awards… and stories. Lots of stories. Stories – like audible photographs – memories that come to life in the telling and retelling, reminding you of who you are, who you were, and who you might yet be.
Or be again.
And if the choice is between Dad and Rockstar there is no question which I would choose.