The Cradle to College List

While driving home the other day, I listened to the classic Harry Chapin song “Cat’s in the Cradle” on the radio.

Cat’s in the Cradle

If you’re not familiar with the song it’s about a father who never finds the time to spend with his son and misses the boy’s entire childhood. For example, when the boy CB066201is 10 he asks his father  “…can you teach me to throw?” The father sings “… not today, I got a lot to do – he (the son) says that’s okay and walks away but his smile never dimmed said I’m gonna be like him…”

When the boy is older and home from college, the tables turn and it’s the father that is left longing to spend time with his boy. The last stanza – which is a killer – has the old man retired and lonely and wanting to see his son, who is now an adult but too busy with his own children and work and unable and unwilling  to make the time to see his father – “my boy was just like me…when are you coming home son – I don’t know when but we’ll get together then dad…”

I must have heard this song a million times before, but now, being a father, it’s a sock to the jaw. Although I think (and my wife attests) that I’m a pretty active and present father, the song left me almost heart-broken with the idea of missing opportunities to share great moments with my children… while they are still children.

So – similar to the “bucket list”, which is a list of stuff you really want to do before you die (i.e. “kick the bucket”), I figured, given how quickly our children grow and time passes, that making a “Cradle to College” list would help in ensuring that my children’s childhood doesn’t evaporate before my eyes and I’m left, sitting during their graduation, realizing my opportunity to share special big once in a lifetime moments with my kids has gone FOREVER.

I submit the following items as the beginning of my “Cradle to College” list (as of October 9, 2009):

  • Build a real tree house.
  • Climb a mountain – a 10,000 footer, and sit on the peak with my kids (and my wife).
  • Get them certified for scuba diving.
  • Take my kids to where I was born and where my mother is from – Lima, Peru and have them meet my extended family there.
  • Professionally record some songs with my children – in a studio, playing instruments and/or singing (it doesn’t matter whether they can sing or play).
  • Take my son and daughter to a political rally and have them understand why people are there.
  • Rent an RV motor home and go on an unplanned road trip.
  • See at least 50 of AFI’s Top 100 greatest movies of all time (before they graduate high school).
  • Develop in my children an understanding and appreciation for classical music and take them to at least one full season of the SF symphony and/or opera.
  • Have a several day stint in Manhattan, taking them to the museums, theater, restaurants and giving them a real taste of the magic of NYC.
  • Work side-by-side with them helping those less fortunate than ourselves – such as working the kitchen at Glide Memorial on a Sunday morning.
  • Go on several 2-3 day back country camping trips in the Sierra’s – sleep under the stars, catch & cook fish, teach them how to sling a bear bag, etc.
  • Make sure they’ve seen and know the Marx Brothers, Abbott & Costello, Laurel & Hardy, Charlie Chaplin, Buster Keaton and Sid Caesar and make sure they can enjoy a movie made in black and white as much as one made with CGI in 3D.
  • Ensure they have a strong and well articulated opinion on who is a better drummer, Neil Pert, Keith Moon, John Bonham or Bill Bruford.mountain

This list will shrink and then grow as we check off and add items over time. And with a little luck and some effort and commitment – I, and hopefully you, will look back on the time we’ve had with our children and know that unlike the protagonist in the song, we didn’t miss the magic of our children’s lives.

Send your special C2C items and I’ll post ’em up for others to see – info@poppapa.com or below in the reply/comment field.

One Response

  1. I’ve been obsessing over this exact phenomenon, probably spurred on by the same set of circumstances, and – that song. I’ve never been made to feel so guilty for things I have or haven’t even done yet. It still hits me like a 2X4 over the head every time I hear it, even while fully aware of how manipulative the song is. My own list has yet to be compiled but contains a lot of the same things. Definitely not among them is spending endless time on the internet like Dear Ol’ Dad.

    Also, Vinnie Colauita, Keith Carlock and Dave Weckl are my personal substitutes on your last point – 🙂

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