There is a video circulating on the interwebs that shows Will Ferrell coming on stage to play cowbell at his son’s concert. His son appears to be on the keyboard and singing and by the looks of it, is genuinely surprised when his dad walks out to a giant cheer.
It’s cute and don’t get me wrong, I love Will Ferrell and have heard he’s a genuinely great guy. Still, my first response to this video was irritation not the “aw cute” that I think was intended.
One thought/feeling that was triggered was “a mom would never do this”, but that’s a post for another day.
Rather than a feminist rant, instead I’ll practice what I preach and lead with curiosity.
Because, the other thought that was triggered was, man I hope this kid was ok with this. I hope Will isn’t doing this for himself or out of some misplaced intention to “help” his kid. I hope Will isn’t doing the wrong thing here and that his son survives it if he is.
Why did this video trigger defensiveness and a wee bit of frustration with the world’s most beloved cowbell playing comedian? Simple, my own sh*t. It had nothing to do with Mr. Ferrell and his son. It was all me. Even worse than it being mine to own is that I had to own sh*t I thought I already dealt with.
Same shi*t new level of the life ladder. Ugh.
I am solidly in the middle of college searching with my second child and it turns out I did NOT prepare for all the emotional baggage I was STILL bringing to the situation.
See, my first kid is an acting major. She also attends my alma mater. Despite getting accepted to more “prestigious” institutions for acting, she chose the same underdog state uni that I attended. Mistakenly, I thought I had worked out my own stuff during her college search time because so much of it came forward.
I wanted to be an actor as a kid, but for a variety of reasons wasn’t encouraged to pursue it, even as a hobby. From day one of this kid’s theatrical adventures, (which was almost literally day one of her life) I’ve been managing the push pull of parenting a child who is on a path I used to wish for myself.
I have checked in many times along the way to make sure I’m allowing her to spread her wings and follow her dreams while ensuring I wasn’t pushing any of my personal expectations or unfulfilled promises onto her. It was hard work but I think she’d tell you I’ve done ok with it. As you imagine, when she expressed an interest in my college, a place I hold very deeply in my heart, I had some of my own baggage to examine as well. I think we’re making it through that too.
I thought I was done navigating this minefield. Then we moved up to a new level of life’s ladder and there it was again.
When my son started choosing schools, one that I went to and one that I wished I could have gone to (3 guesses where this wanna be actor wanted to attend college) top the list.
And here I am, back in the thick of my own stuff, AGAIN.
I hate it when that happens. That is what Mr. Ferrell’s video triggered: my fear of getting in the way of my kid’s growth because of my own stuck points that I thought I got unstuck years ago.
It is so frustrating when I’m aware of something, I work on that something so that I think it’s put away for good, then that same something pops up again in a different experience or new stage of life.
Same sh*t, different level of life’s ladder. Ugh.
Parenting kids can be triggering of our own past in so many ways. It is really important that we check in to make sure the moves we’re making, the advice we’re giving, the guidance we provide is best for our kid, not for our former kid-self. It is important to be aware of our own stuff, so that we don’t pass it on to them or alter their growth because of what we did or didn’t get when we were their age. Asking our motivation, examining our reactions and grounding in the present experience are all necessary to ensure we’re doing right by our kids. Awareness of our stuff isn’t enough. We’ve got to be able to manage that stuff, again, and again, and again.
I am doing it now with kid #2 the same way I had to do it with kid #1, even though I thought I had already “done the work”. Here we are again making sure I’m not messing this guy up with my unrealistic expectations or misdirected intent. I’m managing my stuff so it doesn’t become my kid’s stuff.
I hope Will Ferrell has managed his own stuff. I hope he didn’t take that stage to show up his kid or even to bolster his kid because he thought they might need him. It seems like that kid can handle it all on his own, in his own way, which always feels better then thinking someone else had to do it for you.
Really what I hope is that Mr. Ferrell’s presence on that stage wasn’t actually a surprise. I hope they talked before and handled their own sh*t together. I hope Will was clear on his intentions and his belief in his son, and I hope his son got the support he need in the way he needed it that night. That’s what healthy parenting looks like..