Sunday, September 25, 2005


Sigh. Sometimes it sucks being a dad. It sucks even more trying to be a good one.

Let me explain. Anyone who knows me knows I adore my kids. Not in the fawning obnoxious my-child-can-do-no-wrong sense, but in the sense that I don't know who I'd be without them, and it bring tears to my eyes to even try to imagine such an eventuality. They are the most important thing in my life, bar none, followed closely by my marriage.

So, let's just say I take being a dad seriously. At least part of this is due to not having a father since I was 6. I'm like a textbook case study of the psychological effects of tragic parental loss at a young age. It's all terribly fascinating on some level, I'm sure.

But anyhow, that doesn't mean I can't be a selfish jerk on occasion. I don't sit around trying to find ways to indulge and spoil my kids at every turn, at the expense of my own happiness. The long suffering martyr parent I am most certainly not. I go out, I party, I have drinks with friends, we'll take vacations with and without the kids, whatever. My wife and I have a relationship with and without our kids, and I have plenty of stuff I like to do that doesn't have to include my wife OR my kids. I just try to balance it all out.

Mostly, this works. But unfortunately sometimes the balancing act just doesn't work out too well, and something's gotta fall off the scales to get things to work.

Meaning, well, ACL Fest.

Not that we didn't DO the fest. We did. We went Friday evening, and after a 90 minute ordeal of trying to find a parking space downtown before the state offices closed we finally got on a shuttle bus and got to the park. We had a blast on Friday: Miranda and I dancing our asses off to Grupo Fantasma, me and Trevor boppin' along to Thievery Corporation, chowing some tasty vittles (crawfish enchiladas from Prejeans and Crispy Chicken in a Cone from Hudson's ... yummmm), drinking expensive, nasty canned beer (just how long ago was it that I realized Heineken was, in fact, really bad beer? Well, it still is), and ending the night with a nice set of Lyle Lovett and his Large Band. Friday was essentially flawless.

But Saturday, it all started to go wrong. We went too early -- hustled downtown to be there by 1:00 to catch Aqualung, only to decide once we arrived that they would have been way more enjoyable without the 105+ degree heat, scorching sunlight, and crowds. Hung with Ray and his daughter for too little time -- was hoping to catch up later in the day once things got less unbearable -- then hung at the Austin Kiddie Limits for about 2 hours with my kids, listened to some kid-friendly acts in the shade there (The Biscuit Brothers were a hoot), did the face-painting/balloon animal boogie, etc. Then, we decided to head back onto the surface of the sun.

Big mistake.

30 minutes of walking in the scorching heat (and I mean SCORCHING. I'm not a lightweight, but this was killer heat) and the kids started wilting. We tried to find some shade, but had little luck -- most every square inch of shade had already been claimed by some of the 60K+ other people there. We drank lots of water, grabbed cold snacks, stood in front of misting fans, etc. NOTHING helped. The kids started getting that flushed look that sets the parental warning lights blinking, and then Trevor had a full-out meltdown when his balloon sword popped.

It was time to cut our losses, before things got hairy. So we bailed at about 5:00.

And then, there was today. I had my heart set on seeing Bob Mould, but we had some obstacles to overcome. The most significant of which was, simply, that today is Miranda's birthday. She's been having fun at the fest, but I could tell she was starting to get a bit worn out. I didn't want to force her to go down there again if she really didn't want to. This was our first festival/live music experience as a family, and I didn't want to endanger the memory of the experience by creating any negatives, if possible.

At first, this morning, she seemed cool with heading down in the late afternoon to catch Jason Mraz and Bob Mould. But, well, I could tell she was playing along at least a bit. She could tell how much *I* wanted to go, so she figured she'd go too. And well, that's just not fair. I mean, it's the kid's birthday, ferchrissakes. If she's worn out on the whole festival thing, then she shouldn't have to go. I'm not a fan of compulsory fun, no matter how expensive it may be.

So, we have ditched day 3. Instead, we're having my mom and my brother's family over for BBQ and ice cream.

It'll be nice.

I'm trying to not be a dick about this. But it's kinda tough. On any other day, I'd have just gone downtown by myself, met up with Ray or my buddy Baba and his friends -- Christine would have been totally cool with it, the kids would have been fine, no blame and no worries.

But not today. Today is my daughter's birthday. Christine even tried to tell me it was OK for me to go, but I know it's not. Of course it's not. If it were after bedtime, then sure, but the shows worth seeing start at 4:00. No way in hell am I skipping out on own daughter's 7th birthday to stand around in the sweat and dust and heat with 60K people, alone.

I can be a selfish jerk, but that would be beyond the pale.

And yet, damn it if there isn't a little pissy voice in my head saying do it... do it... do it. Lucky for me it's just a little voice, and I can ignore it. It'll shut up before long.

I love being a dad, but I'd be lying if I didn't acknowledge that sometimes it can be a real pain in the ass trying to be a good one.

Mood: A tad cranky
Now Playing: Thievery Corporation, "Cosmic Joke"

1 comment:

Ray in New Orleans said...

Oh, christ, balloon swords. Whoever invented those things absolutely hates kids. They have to have one, but you always know how it ends and it's going to be tragic.