Cats in the Cradle

Last Sunday was daughter number 2’s 14th birthday and we had a really good afternoon together. We went over to see my Mum first and then to the pictures and saw the Simpsons Movie. I guess the best thing to say about that is that the opening line says something like – “You sucker, fancy paying for something you get free on TV.” Still she liked it and that means I liked it too.

Today was son number 2’s 22nd birthday. I rang him last night and asked him whether he would like to go to the footy today which he declined because he was sick of watching our team get belted this year. Wise move as it turned out because it is halftime in the match as I write this and we are a little over five goals down on our way to another loss. I asked him what he would like as a present and he said he didn’t really know so we agreed to meet at the shopping centre this afternoon so that I could buy him something. I ended up getting him Series 5 of the Family Guy, matthew McConaughey’s new DVD “We are Marshall”, and the Mark Wahlberg movie “The Shooter”.

I asked if he wanted to have some lunch but he said that he wasn’t hungry having not long gotten out of bed; so I then asked if he wanted to have a coffee somewhere and he said “Not really.” So we chatted for a while in the car park and then off he went. I did notice that he was on his phone in his car as we drove up the highway and he turned off before home so I assume he went off to visit a mate.

It felt like a real “Cats in the Cradle” moment and saddened me a little. Then I thought about my relationship with my Dad and it may not really have been any different. I should have made a point of taking him out somewhere for his birthday when he was alive, or of making attempts to see him more often than I did. I always felt that we had little in common and that may well have been the case but I regret not trying to do more things with him.

Now my son isn’t always like this with me – we do go out to the pictures occasionally, or for a feed or to the footy, but today I felt a bit sad that he obviously didn’t really want to spend any time with me. I don’t think he was even very interested in the present, that he actually only turned up out of obligation to me and not because he was really all that excited to see me on his birthday. He’s planning to head off to Queensland in a few weeks because there are better work prospects up there and that is probably a good thing, but will mean I see less of him than I do now.

Of my four children he was the one whose birth I missed. My wife went into labour six weeks early and we spent a long sleepless night at the hospital whilst the doctors tried to discourage the birth. I was sent home around 10am in the morning and at about 5pm I got an urgent call saying to get into the hospital quickly. I arrived 5 minutes after he was born and being prem he was placed straight into a humidicrib so I didn’t even get to hold him until he was a day old. Seems like yesterday to me but the reality is that he is now a young man finding his own way and it is normal for a kid to want to spend less time with his parents and more with his mates and girlfriends.

“And as I hung up the phone it occurred to me that he grown up just like me. My boy was just like me.”


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