The Byford Files

What Have I Freakin’ Done Now?

I brought the most precious and beautiful baby into this world? This world? It’s unusual for me to be über vocal and opinionated in a public forum (seriously, it is), but on the tail end of my lovely wife going to a seminar about violence in teens and then having my eyes and ears opened to what the kiddos are up to these days and I just sat there and thought, “What kinda world did we bring this baby into?” I guess, in all likelihood, it’s the same questions my parents asked when Ice-T recorded “Cop Killer” or Ted Bundy was arrested. Maybe it’s just the collision of too many things all at once.
The world looks a lot different through the eyes of a dad. More agitated. More leery. I sleep with a weapon under my bed (a baseball bat). I’m protective. I’ve got too much to lose now with my lovely wife and beautiful daughter. The stakes are high. I never wanted to walk through the world scared. And I don’t want Ellison to think that I’m a fearful dad. I want her to know that I see the best in people. That I’m naturally accepting. But this is a twisted world we live in. And, if anything’s true, it ain’t the same world I came up in.
My lovely wife schooled me on everything from guys who filmed their brutal murder of more than 40 people and put them online to what the Insane Clown Posse calls certain female anatomy. She gave me the lowdown on everything you didn’t want to know about today’s teens. If I was knee-deep in it before, I’m buried to my eyebrows now. For the first time in my life, I’m becoming tremendously less curious. I don’t really want to know anymore. I’d just rather be naive, live under a rock. I want to tune out and just take my family and go far away.
I believe there is good in this world. I try desperately to do good in this world. I’ve failed. I’ve sometimes tried with the best intentions and ended up making matters worse. Sometimes I look at Ellison and think that she is the good I’m eventually going to leave behind. Maybe my single greatest accomplishment. Of course, she doesn’t have to do much. She’s perfect in my eyes. But there is so much in this world out there to attack this precious child. This world is violent. Perverse. Anxious. Skeptical. There’s a darkness to this world that’s frankly a bit frightening. Maybe I watched too many horror movies as a kid. This morning when I was stretching on the curb getting ready to run before 5:00am, there was a Jeep Cherokee down the block that kept flashing me with his lights. On. Then off. On again. Then off. Then on. Then off. I become fearful. I think someone’s out to kill me or, even worse, the car’s going to come to life like in Maximum Overdrive or Christine and run me down in cold blood. I think later that maybe it was just a car with some sort of short in the electric system or it was having battery issues. A logical explanation. Why was that my second thought? Have I polluted my mind so deeply over the years?
I look at Ellison and think, “Here’s my fresh mind. I can pollute it. Destroy it. Build it up. Strengthen it. Educate it. Exercise it. The world, for the earliest part of her life is what I give her.” Osama Bin Laden is killed and everyone now wants proof through the photo of his bloodied head. We want to see the bullet wound. We want it on our home page. If we don’t see it, then did it happen? If I’m not the family member of someone who was killed in the terrorist attacks, do I really care? Is killing Osama avenging something? Does it really get rid of evil? They’ve already appointed a new leader, folks. Evil is always in stock. I feel kinda like when Saddam was hung. “Okay. So what exactly does this mean again?”
They say if we don’t have photos, then it leave it open to conspiracy theorists to say he’s still alive. You don’t think someone could doctor photos too? Where does it stop? You have to poke his dead body? The truth is we’re just morbid and obsessed people. We want to see his head for our own satisfaction. It’s not for us to identify the body like a family member. “Yeah, that’s him. Go ahead and bury him.” We want to see it because we’re sick freaks. That’s all it proves. And that’s a fine line, huh? Ellison, don’t kill. Unless it’s this guy and you can definitely kill him and, in fact, you can kill him and then put his photo on the wall like a pinup girl. Even if he doesn’t have a weapon on him. Definitely kill him. And celebrate his death in the streets. I’m just not a “party in the streets” kinda guy, I guess. I suppose that I don’t live under the impression that killing one ends the game. Osama wasn’t even first in command. My bigger concern is who in the hell is first in command?
Every morning with Ellison is like living on an deserted island. I play with her. Drink coffee. Answer emails. Watch a little news. Usually just the weather really. Too many politics. Too many news stations and not enough news. More obsessive news about drunk celebrities, bacteria, defective airbags that led to fifteen deaths worldwide. I’d rather not know. I don’t care. I’d rather stare into little Ellison’s wide eyes and just marvel at what’s going through the head of a little baby when she looks back at me. I lose track of time. I lose touch with reality. Just me and little Ellison talking in single syllable grunts and blurts.
It’s when I go into the world and am reminded about how freakish everything is. Like this morning, I’m driving Ellison to daycare on my way to work singing “Wheels on the Bus” and, in just a fraction of a second, a guy blows by me and, in a fit of road rage, almost plows into another car which leads me to yell a series of different of exclamations…no obscenities. Not around the kiddo. But in less than a minute’s time, I go from living on a deserted island with my beautiful daughter to morning traffic. Reality. The rut. The necessary evil…morning commute.
I realize that, in time, I’m gonna have to explain the world to Ellison. The real world. The way it really is. Kinda like pulling back the veil. Fess up. Like I’ve been harboring a nasty habit. “Well, Ellison. This is how the world really works.” Yeah, those won’t be easy conversations. The world’s vicious. Greedy. It’s not who’s best, it’s who’s first. We’re trained to chase the best deal, the most money, the biggest profit. We look out for ourselves first. I lied about war. I lied about sports. They really do only do it for the money. We like to think they do it for the love of the game, but it’s all about money. The Beatles did a ton of drugs. Government is not your friend. The Sox bought that championship (2007, not 2004). Your idols are criminals. Criminals are idols. Tom Brokaw is a smoker. Al Pacino has had plastic surgery. Manny was taking steroids. People kill. Sometimes without reason. Rap music is all fake. All that glitter’s not gold and that those tattoos rub off.
It’s a weird world. I’m raising a child in it. It’s kinda like walking through the zoo. Look but don’t touch. Touch but don’t feed. Take it in. If you have any questions along the way, I might be lying to you. But I’m doing it to protect you from the world I brought you into.
We gotta protect our kids. It’s not just your legacy, but it’s our generation’s collective legacy. I’ll work on Ellison. You work on yours. We gotta take the power back, folks. Sox still in a rain delay.
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