I use to be a party animal. I was never the drinking kind, but man, I loved the club scene. I started going before I was barely in my teens. That was back in Koindu, Sierra Leone. At Disco J you couldn’t tell us we were not Michael Jackson, Bobby Brown and George Michael all wrapped in one. When I came to America, I took a break in Chicago, but quickly found my steps going to school in St. Cloud. Before 21, I brought the party home. Long story short, I got kicked out of quite a few apartments.
Now I don’t know the last time I stepped inside a club. My motto was “never in bed in the pm, never up in the am.” These days by the time noon rolls around I have a day’s worth bagged with two more to go. I better be in bed by midnight.
I use to love shopping. Yes, that’s right, I was one of those men that would admit to loving shopping…as long as the buying was for me. Now, my designer boutiques have names like Cub Foods, Rainbow, etc. I’m making almost three times what I use to make five years ago, but I’ve never been broker. Instead of shopping sprees, I’m talking college savings plans. As a home owner I pay good attention to what goes on in St. Paul, because politicians in that city love picking on my property tax.
These days my schedule is tight and narrow, my priorities don’t have me in them, responsibility has gone from being an abstract word to having names and faces. In short, everywhere you look, my life has seen changes made in every department. Directly or indirectly, all for (or because of) them. My kids that is.
My music, now that is the final frontier. For that I’m ready to go places no parent has gone before. I’m not letting that go without some serious blows. Needless to say, my house and car have been home to some serious tug and pull between them and I. Luckily we share dancehall reggae. But dancehall ain’t the same without the dance hall. So quite naturally, there is only so much sitting and listening I can do to that. Every now and then, I want to listen to some blues and world beat on KFAI 90.3 FM. But she wants to listen to some teeny poppers and nonsensical rappers on 101.3 KDWB. Or worse yet, 1440 AM Disney.
This past Sunday, I took advantage of a commercial break to sneak a listen to NPR. On Prairie Home Companion, somebody was doing a rendition of the Nat King Cole’s classic, “Route 66”. After a verse, out from the back came my daughter’s voice, “I know who sang that song first.” “Oh yeah?” I said “Who?” expecting another surprise piece of information from her 2nd grade lessons. “The Cheetah Girls,” she says.
As any parent would tell you, any fight with your kids is a losing battle. It’s just a matter of time before they erode your will like water through a rock. I try, but more than often I let them have it their way. After all, it’s a Burger King world they live in; parents are just servers.
Lately it’s a compilation CD of popular nursery rhymes put together by the people at Parents Magazine. My kids call it by the first track on the album: “Itsy Bitsy”. I will give up eating lamb in a heart beat if I don’t have to hear about Mary’s little lamb one more time.
I had all but thrown the white flag in when couple of weeks ago, I was in the car by myself listening to Lynval Jackson spin some Caribbean vibes on KFAI. When he faded John Legend and Buju Banton to some Sean Paul and Estelle, I fell in love again. I made a quick detour to Best Buy and grabbed a copy of Shine, Estelle’s new album. I unwrapped the album and prepared for battle.
This past weekend I took out my armor. When the rain washed itsy bitsy spider out, this time the sun didn’t show; I slipped Estelle in the player. Caught red handed! My son started to cry, “I want Itsy Spider!” Like I said, I had my armor out; I was not falling for that old trick this time around. When he reached to take matters in his own hand, I took him into my arms. Usually he cries “Uppy” asking to be picked up. Not today. He was not having that. He wanted his Itsy Bitsy.
But wait, what is this? When Estelle asked him to “Wait a Minute”, he actually did. He got quiet and seemed to be letting the song sink in. Half way into it, he said, “Start over Daddy.” And he was not talking about Itsy Bitsy either. Apparently, the beat had him at go. He was hooked. I looked behind and my daughter was sliding up and down on our hard wood floor in sync with the beat.
For the next hour we danced like we had something to forget. Maybe it’s been a while since I visited one, and my memory is playing tricks on me, but I don’t remember having this much fun at a club.