Raising children is fascinating.
I can think of only one thing that I would change from the way my parents did with my upbringing. Just one. My father temporarily guided me away from my first love. Music.
I have been playing drums ever since I was a little kid. I started out banging on my parent’s pots and pans until they caved in and purchased a real set of drums. I was so into the drums that after school, I would run to my drums in the basement and practice for hours. My family, and next door neighbor told me recently that they got tired of listening to my non-stop practice. I improved quickly and began to play with neighborhood kids. I became a sought after musician and played in several bands. This was all I wanted to do, and was very good. I had heard about Berklee College of Music and almost begged my parent’s to send me there. My father, thinking of my best interests, steered me away from my inevitable fate of poverty and drug use as a professional musician. I subsequently enrolled at Howard university and graduated with a degree in business.
While my father had good intentions, there was no stopping me. I cannot deny that getting my degree helped me get to where I am today. I was able to support myself with day jobs for a while, but i eventually became everything he didn’t want me to be. After about 12 years of working hard at my craft here in New York City, I became a full-time professional musician (without the drug use)
My mother was supportive. SHE was the one who bought my first set of drums from my cousin. She is also the one who paid for my last set of drums-the ones that wereplayed 8 shows a week at the Shubert Theater at the TONY Award winning musical “Memphis’ back in 2009. Yes indeed. She was the one who said I could make it as a musician. And I did.
My parents did all if the right things by their three children. They moved into the suburbs in the early 70’s so that their three kids could have access to a quality public education. They enrolled us in various activities to express us to the good things life has to offer. They put all three of us through historically black universities and helped us get on our feet afterward. Both of them helped me financially through my divorce and assisted my sisters when they were downsized by the great recession.
With all of that said, there are times when you have to let your offspring follow their heart. Let them sink or swim. I understand the concern for our well being but if you do your best to give your children a solid foundation, they usually wind up doing just fine. On top of that, they will be much happier in life doing what they love to do for a living instead of follwing in the footsteps of their parents.
I am living proof that if you follow your dreams and do the hard work that it takes to make them come true, it can happen.
I intend on being the same type of father to my kids as my father was to me. I will insist that they do whatever it is that excites them. I have told both of my kids repeatedly that I absolutely love my job. They have heard it so much that I’m sure they are sick of it.
I think it will be music to my old ears when I see both of my kids say similar things to their children.
I thank my parent’s regularly for a job well done. I wouldn’t be where I am without their support. They are truly role models and hope I can pass on the values they taught me to my children when I am assisting them on their potential careers.