My wife and I were watching the TV show “Blue Bloods,” and there was an episode where Tom Selleck’s character, who is the police chief of New York City, was asked by an injured officer on the force to investigate an incident with his son.
The dad had been shot in the line of duty and was not going to be allowed to return. He had asked for his son to be offered his position, but that had not happened.
The dad was furious.
He met with the police chief and demanded to find out who had prevented what he felt should have been an easy transition.
You see, this officer, the son, and the grandfather, great grandfather, and others in the family had all served on the police force. Almost a century of service.
Suddenly, the son wasn’t being allowed to rise through the ranks. The question was, “Why?”
After several plot build ups, commercials, and finally, a discussion between Tom Selleck and the officer’s son, there was an answer.
The son never wanted to be a cop. He had joined the force because his father expected it. But, he didn’t want to hurt his father’s feelings, or be the one in the family to break the chain of service to law enforcement.
So, even though he had a master’s degree in urban planning, he went to the academy and became a cop.
As we watched this episode of Blue Bloods, (a show that we love for many reasons, but especially because the family still eats together and are people of faith), something occurred to me.
My parents never once told me what I had to be.
That dropped on me in a big way.
My dad worked for the federal government, and my mom spent four decades in the banking industry, but neither one of them tried to push me to work in either of those areas.
They never tried to push me in any direction at all.
It never even crossed my mind that my decision to become a radio announcer – a disc jockey – would be a decision that wouldn’t please everyone. It was what I wanted to do, so to me that was all that mattered.
But, reviewing that decision now, I’m sure my parents likely assessed, discussed, and possibly even questioned where I was heading.
In the 1970s, disc jockies ranked right up there with door-to-door salesmen, carnival barkers, and bar owners, as far as respectibility.
Of course, when you’re 16-years-old, you have no idea what the word on the street is about a profession. You just know that you want to do something, so you myopically proceed with your desire to join that group, regardless.
Later, I would find out the word on the street about radio announcers was that they weren’t known for paying their bills, they drank too much, chased women, and quite often, were on a first-name basis with the folks at the county jail.
The word on the street had a lot of truth in it, but that’s another story.
But, my parents never said a word to me, other than, “You can be whatever you want to be. Just work hard and we will support you as best as we can.”
My mother was especially supportive.
It is my opinion that every day should be Mother’s Day. Fathers love their kids, but mothers always have your back.
It was my mom who allowed me to skip around from the guitar, to the trombone, to art classes, to football, to baseball, to tennis, to Scouts, to many other things.
And she never complained. Not only did she never complain, she paid a lot of money (money I didn’t know at the time that we really didn’t have) and drove me to lessons, practices, and meetings.
I took it all for granted. I regret that.
Before I wanted to be a disc jockey, like most other teenage guys at the time, I wanted to play guitar in a famous rock band. My mom allowed my band to practice in her house (which, in and of itself deserves a medal) and put up with us playing the same songs over and over.
Later, she allowed me to take her car out of town to audition for a new rock band. I had just the slightest chance that they’d pick me as one of their new guitar players, but because my mom’s 1971 Buick Electra 225 Limited had a trunk big enough to hold all of the amplifiers, guitars, and other equipment needed for the audition, she let me take it.
But mostly, she let me take her car because she believed in me. She truly believed that I could do anything I wanted to do and achieve anything I set my mind to accomplish.
She believed in me more than I did. She always has.
I took all of the tests in high school that we all have to take. The ones that supposedly assess what we’re best suited for in life. What our aptitude shows.
My tests came back that I could be a lawyer, public relations, or pursue a job in other related areas.
The test was somewhat correct. I did wind up working in public relations, and have always had an interest in the law.
But, I didn’t want to do either back when they gave us those tests. I wanted to be a rock star or a disc jockey.
I have no idea for sure, but I’ve thought that my parents probably discussed those test results and would have much preferred that their son become an attorney, or work in a big-city PR firm.
But, they never said a word. “You can be whatever you want to be. We will support you as best as we can.”
I was selected as the new guitarist for that rock band. But, after I played in bands for a number of years, I finally realized that it cost more to put gas in the van to get to the gigs than we were being paid. So, I eventually left the band scene.
But, I did become a disc jockey. I did that for 25 years. I also made a career in public relations. I even wrote a book.
But, unlike the guy on Blue Bloods, my parents let me figure everything out for myself.
My father is gone, but my mother is still my cheerleader. She tells everyone that her son has written a book. She’s the best salesperson I have. She’s sold more copies than I have.
One of the most difficult things you have to do as a parent is get out of your children’s way. Just because you want your kids to go in a certain direction, doesn’t mean that’s what they want.
The gift you can give your children that keeps on giving, isn’t one you give at Christmas. It is one you give them daily during their formative years. It is the gift of allowing them to be who they are so that they can become who they’re meant to be.
Thanks, mom, for giving me the best present ever. And I’m sorry that it took me so long to notice it.
©2018 John Moore
John’s book, Write of Passage: A Southerner’s View of Then and Now, is available on Amazon.
Email John at John@TheCountryWriter.com.