Monday, April 1, 2013

One Statement From a Parent

A parent can make a single off-hand comment to a child that can lead that child to a lifetime of success or failure. When I was 13, during a trip to Waycross, Georgia with my father, I sat in the back floorboard of my brother's 1976 Ford Thunderbird with a notebook and pen and wrote the lyrics for a song. The song was for my step-mother, whom we were going to see. I had been writing lyrics since the age of 5, though notably my first attempt at songwriting was a criminal enterprise as I used the tune of The Old Rugged Cross for the melody to my lyrics. I think the law, and the writers of that song would be willing to forgive a 5-year old child, though.

I don't recall those lyrics, today, but I do remember being exceedingly proud of what I had written. So proud, in fact, that I read them out to my father and brother. My brother was impressed and told me they were great, but my father immediately squelched all the pride I had by telling me the song was childish, immature and didn't even work well. I was devastated for two reasons: I had initially started writing lyrics because my father was a songwriter and I wanted to be just like him. The second was that he had taken the heartfelt feelings I had for my Mama and made them into something small and insignificant.

Because of my father's comments in that car when I was 13, I didn't attempt to write another song until I was in my 30's. Like my Mother (birth mother) and my Mama (step-mother), I sang throughout my teens/20's, but I didn't attempt to write another song for more than 15 years. Had I not overcome through counseling and hard work, I probably would never have written another song, again. Simply because of one statement from a parent.