Sep. 12—Sharing facets of your life and the look in your child's eyes when discovering what a parent presents is beyond gratifying. The subject was bandied about when a friend revealed that he's taking his 10-year-old son to watch KISS this Saturday at the Gorge.
After noting that I completely endorse his decision, which will potentially have a profound effect on his son's life, I reminisced about the impact I've had on my four children while introducing them to my interests.
Your obsessions just might have a massive impact on their lives. Or the effect might be minimal. You never know what will stick with a child since they aren't clones of their parents. I have a number of friends who are sports nuts, and their kids have no interest in athletic competition.
My boys were introduced to baseball just as they were learning to walk. Both Eddie, 19, and particularly Milo, 16, loved to hit as toddlers. I never thought I would tire of throwing batting practice, but I recall being exhausted pitching on a trip to the beach when Milo was 2 years old. The following year, Milo brought his wiffle ball and bat with him everywhere. I remember pitching to him in a friend's yard during a barbecue. "Why are you making Milo hit?" my pal Joe asked.
"I'm not making him do anything," I said. "He's 3 years old. Your son is 3. You know we can't make them do anything. Milo wants to hit." Each of my four children was introduced to baseball, and they love the game. Eddie is a college baseball pitcher, and Milo hopes to follow in his footsteps.
My other obsession is music. It really is magical witnessing children experience the Beatles for the first time. Many of the Fab Four's songs are undeniably beautiful and touching. Beatles tunes somehow connect with our DNA. My daughter Jillian, 22, smiled and danced upon hearing the first notes of "Good Day Sunshine." The Beach Boys' "God Only Knows" and Jeff Buckley's "Hallelujah" had a similar impact.
When Jillian turned 7, she couldn't get enough of Fiona Apple's "Extraordinary Machine" album. Months later, Jillian checked out an Apple concert and shortly after that attended a taping of a VH1 Elvis Costello special in Atlantic City, which featured Apple. Jillian asked if she could meet the enigmatic singer-songwriter at the afterparty we attended. I explained that many of the artists don't attend their own soirees.
While hanging at a bar upstairs, I saw Apple enter the room. I chased her down a spiral staircase and asked her if she wouldn't mind meeting my daughter. Apple appeared irked, and I was waiting for her to explode, like she occasionally has onstage.
"Are you talking about Jillian?" Apple asked. "I just spoke with her for about 10 minutes. I told her how nervous I was performing with Elvis." I asked Apple if she would take a photo or two with Jillian. She complied, and it turned into a session with about a dozen shots of the pair. Jillian learned how to play the piano and eventually sang. Jillian belted out tunes and tickled the ivories at talent shows and local watering holes.
After graduating from college in May, Jillian accepted a job at the Oriel as a music publicist working with clients including the Killers, Maroon 5 and Phoebe Bridgers.
During a trip to spring training, 10-year old Eddie accompanied me to a Radiohead show in Tampa. Eddie can't get enough of the British art-rock band. My first concert experience was KISS with a fledgling Aussie act, AC/DC, opening when I was 11. When Milo was the same age, I introduced my wildest child to the spectacle that is KISS, and it was a blast watching him soak up the larger-than-life event.
Milo has since embraced Seattle's Car Seat Headrest, which pre-pandemic he caught live six times in nine months. During one of those performances, Milo was pulled onstage to play the cowbell during "Destroyed By Hippie Powers." Milo's career backup plan is managing recording artists.
My daughter Jane, 12, who might be the finest writer of my four children, has been the recipient of a number of my favorite books such as "A Lucky Child" and "Do Black Patent Leather Shoes Really Reflect Up" and is a voracious reader. Jane has written plays and most recently penned a song for a friend experiencing a rough patch. Jane hopes to become a reporter or a writer.
It's not just about impacting their potential careers. During a recent trip to Northern California, Milo, who has been to 49 states, expressed where he would like to reside. "I definitely want to live in a city like San Francisco, Seattle or New York. After all I've seen around the country, that's just what appeals to me."
Eddie, on the other hand, prefers a more mellow existence. His discovery of Manito Park, Riverside State Park and Centennial State Park are right in his wheelhouse. "I love the natural beauty of Spokane," Eddie said. "There's still so much to do here, and it's a short drive to some amazing places like Glacier."
Ever since my children were very young, I wanted to show them that the world is a big place, and there are so many cool elements to immerse in throughout their existence. My parents were unabashed lovers of polka, country music, particularly Johnny Cash, Willie Nelson and Merle Haggard, and Polish food.
Some of what they enjoyed rubbed off, but what impacted me most was their enthusiasm for what they were passionate about on a daily basis. It's our job as parents to pass along what we love, do our best to teach our progeny and broaden their horizons. It's a heavy gig, but it's incredibly satisfying.