Tuesday, October 4, 2011

CATS IN THE CRADLE: Doggone that Harry Chapin!


My son Jesse turns 18 this
week! And while others in his
life are planning a foolhardy
hoo-ha, I find myself reflecting
on what a blessing he's been
to me, how proud I am of him,
how I miss those "little guy"
days and the genius of Harry
Chapin's "Cats in the Cradle."

I never wanted a child. The notions of a baby’s non-stop crying, midnight feedings and dirty diapers were offensive to me. And I was simply unwilling to put anyone else’s needs before my own selfish ambitions. However, I did a complete 180° about face regarding parenthood the instant my wife at the time, Trish, came home from her gynecologist in early 1993 with the big news, “I’m pregnant!"

Trish and I immediately began renovating our apartment together — painting the walls, child-proofing cabinets and transforming the one-time guest room into a brand spanking new nursery — in anticipation of our new "roommate." 

A child arrived just the other day.
He came to the world in the usual way.
But there were planes to catch and bills to pay.
He learned to walk while there was a way.
(From "Cats in the Cradle" - written by Harry Chapin)

Me and Jesse, a few days after
he arrived home from the
hospital in October 1993.
Everything about Trish’s pregnancy seemed to be a breeze. She experienced very little morning sickness and she gained hardly any weight. And on October 5, 1993, the night our son Jesse was born, Trish was in actual hard labor for only about an hour. In fact, I joked that the baby came so quickly and effortlessly that she didn’t even smear her typically immaculate, Stryper-like make-up.

And I can honestly say that he's been a joy, every moment. Oh sure, we had to come to a few "understandings" along the way, but beyond that, it's been a snap!

Christmas 2004
We've been through a lot together over the years — scraped knees (some were his), father and son vacation adventures, daily commutes to school, our weekly grocery shopping trips, countless late night movies, Orlando Magic basketball games, girlfriends (some were mine) and even a few  hurricanes. And I wouldn't change a thing — except I wish we'd spent even more time together! 

My son turned ten, just the other day.
He said, "Thanks for the ball, Dad
C'mon, let's play."
"Can you teach me to throw?"
I said, "Not today.I got a lot to do."
He said, "That's okay."
(From "Cats in the Cradle" - written by Harry Chapin)

Today is the day that I never thought would arrive. But cliches typically become cliches because they're true. And the guy who first said, "They grow up so fast," was absolutely on-point. And as my son prepares to graduate with honors from high school in the spring, I now find myself asking, "Where did the years go?"

(Photo: Kevin Roberts)
I certainly wasn't always the greatest father, but Jesse was, and still is, always the greatest son — and my best buddy. If it weren't for him, I wouldn't have anyone to vent to regarding those darn Libs!

It's ironic that as Jess was growing up, I was frequently so caught up in my own personal "stuff," that I didn't always make time for him the way I should have. Conversely, with all of his teenage priorities — school, band, girls etc., I'm now the one who has to fight for his time.

And as I hung up the phone, it occurred to me
he'd grown up just like me. My boy was just like me.
(From "Cats in the Cradle" - written by Harry Chapin)

Doggone that Harry Chapin — he gets me every time!

-Christopher Long
(October 2011)

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C'MON! -

(Coming April 7, 2019)


  1. I can image how proud you are of him. When my oldest Son graduated High School and also had his first child years later it was so emotional. I still have my other Son and my Daughter going to school also. I feel that Im trying to raise my kids with pride, respect, knowleage, manners and most of all love to be wonderful people. They are our future! Very touching article, you have a great Son, you did good!

  2. Christopher J. ErwinOctober 11, 2011 at 5:03 PM

    That honestly brought a tear to my eye. You've been a role model to me since I was 15, and I knew you were going to be a fantastic father. Well done, Dead. Your accomplishments never seem to end.

  3. That was beautiful. I totally relate (she said with teary eyes). Jasmine's right behind him.