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Where’s The Mother: Children Used as Dad’s Props

December 3, 2007

WTF? Honestly. Some claim what he is doing is “spending time with his children.” Notice the headline that reads: “[F]our kids go for marathon record. What/Who is the subject in the preceding sentence? Four kids? What is the action, the verb, connected with the subject, in other words, what are the four kids doing? “Go for marathon record.” Please tell me how four children, without a drop of agency at this phase of their development are going for a record. What is really going on?

I see a tear of joy sliding down the cheek of a MRA right now.

I feel the need to burst out in song:

Cats In The Cradle

A child arrived just the other day,
came to the world in the usual way,
But there were planes to catch
and bills to pay, he learned to walk while I was away
He was talking before I knew it and as he grew
he said I’m going to be like you Dad,
you know I’m going to be like you.

And the cat’s in the cradle,
and the silver spoon, Little Boy Blue,
and the Man in the Moon,
When you coming home son, I don’t know when
We’ll get together then, you know we’ll have a good time then.

My son turned 10 just the other day,
Said thanks for the ball now c’mon let’s play
Will you teach me to throw, I said not today,
I’ve got a lot to do, he said that’s ok
And he walked away and he smiled and he said
You know I’m going to be like you, Dad,
you know I’m going to be like you.

He came from college just the other day,
so much like a man I just had to say,
I’m proud of you, won’t you sit for a while
He shook his head and said with a smile,
What I’m feeling like, Dad, is to borrow the car keys
See you later can I have them please.

I’ve long since retired and my son’s moved away
I called him up just the other day
I’d like to see you, if you don’t mind
He said I’d love to Dad, if I could find the time
You see my new job’s a hassle and the kids have the flu
But it’s sure nice talking you Dad, it’s been real nice talking to you.
And as I hung up the phone it occured to me
He’d grown up just like me, my boy was just like me.

  1. Liz permalink
    December 4, 2007 1:12 am

    Just weird. Doesn’t he know what hours in that Vegas sun can do to kids?

  2. Kitty Glendower permalink
    December 4, 2007 4:13 am

    People are acting like he split the atom or something. Geesh. He is not the first father to use his children to look good. There is almost an element of “look how good I look after having all of these babies.” The only thing is, he was not the one who had them. Zeus in the making.

  3. Rent Party permalink
    December 4, 2007 6:45 am

    The song really is amazing – I had never seen *all* the words. Really sad.

  4. momo permalink
    December 5, 2007 11:55 pm

    Kitty, I admire you for taking on these comments.

    This song bring back a really powerful memory: when I was about 14, my father’s only brother and his family moved to California where we lived. My grandparents shortly moved out to California to be close to their two sons. I didn’t know any of these people because my father had been in the Army for fifteen years, and we’d moved all around, including overseas, for much of my life. But I soon learned that my father, the oldest, had the unconditional approval of his parents, even though he never cared for them in any way, while my uncle and his wife, who had been at their beck and call for years, were always being run down by my grandparents, who were not very nice people. The first Christmas we all spent together, my uncle and aunt gave me a copy of the record with this song, and told me to tell my father to listen to it. Even though I knew that my father was selfish and neglectful of his parents, I recall my own feeling of hurt that their gift to me was not for me, but a way to try to get at my dad—but that they didn’t have the guts to give it to him!
    So when I read the lyrics of the song, I remember my inarticulate and resentful teenage self, and have some more compassion for my family than I was able to have then.

  5. Kitty Glendower permalink
    December 6, 2007 5:36 pm

    I’m sorry Momo. That was cowardly of your uncle and aunt. It falls in with the kick the one below you line of thinking. Not to mention how incredibly passive aggressive it is and how it robs you of a Christmas present. Sorry, I’m not good at this, I feel like I am making it worse. I know for me it helps the bad memories when I try to understand why it all happened. If your father did not care about his father/mother would it even matter if he heard the song or not? Did your uncle/aunt expect your father to hear the song and have a Scrooge epiphany?

    When we heard this song in my family, it was more about denial. There was this “aww that’s fucked up, but that has nothing to do with any relationships in this house.” Yeah, okay. Seeing that my father was an absent father because of his type of work, and when, he was home he was still sort of just there. He certainly never participated in any type of stereotypical father/son activities, that is for sure, and he had five sons, actually seven, two were from a previous marriage. As a girl, I remember thinking how it had nothing to do with me but everything to do with me because at least there was some recognition in this song that a son was being neglected, but nothing about the neglect of a daughter.

    Nevertheless, Cat Stevens was great to listen to and in a way provided comfort.

  6. June 11, 2009 5:10 pm

    I happened to see the “cat stevens” tag as I scrolled up. I caught the last bit of a contemporary interview with him last night. He has now decided that Islam is actually okey dokey with music/singing/guitar playing (rattling off some story of how he thought it was the Muslims that invented the guitar and introduced it to Europe).

    Anyway, he is recording a new album. But the amazing thing is that he sounds just as good, as if it was last year that he stopped singing!

    I could never understand why he renounced the singing as some sort of devil’s work or whatever it was supposed to be. His songs were fairly peace-loving and wholesome.

    • atheistwoman permalink
      June 11, 2009 5:22 pm

      It’s some radical Islamic thing, but I’ve never known *any* Muslim who subscribed. Though it is mentioned in the book Brick Lane.

    • June 11, 2009 5:43 pm

      I have to ignore his political stuff because I can never let his music go. It is a part of me. In the late 60’s and early 70’s and when I was stuck at home (my speech problem prevented me from going to kindergarten), the one thing I was allowed to do is listen to my parents albums (as long as I didn’t scratch the record or hurt the needle). I guess it kept me out of my mother’s hair. The colors on Stevens album cover, and the lyrics were written out, and just everything comforted me. I listened and listened. It was very peaceful and safe time for me. The same for Marvin Gaye, Tina Turner, The Eagles, Fleetwood Mac, and Al Green. It is like something that just won’t leave you, you know. Peace Train. Morning has Broken. Wild World. All of them.

    • atheistwoman permalink
      June 11, 2009 6:56 pm

      That’s sweet. Yes, music is incredibly powerful, and stays with us for longer than I had previously realised.

  7. June 11, 2009 6:31 pm

    Lots of musical memories.
    But, what was up with the drummer in Fleetwood Mac, was he trying to catch flies or something? His mouth was always open. Very freaky.

    I was much more of a Zep fan myself.

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