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Just a Guy Living with a Rock Star

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Bruce Sallan: My 16-year-old son has been a rock 'n' roller since sixth grade, when I bought him a cheap electric guitar at Costco as a graduation present. He loved it, was good and I enrolled him in a local rock school. He flourished, as he'd finally found his passion.

I had always hoped it would be in sports, like my passions for skiing and tennis. But while your kids may have your DNA, they don't necessarily share your interests -- and one of the first lessons of being a good parent is to recognize that. Took me a while.

Anyway, as he grew into a teen, his passion for every new band he discovered grew. We went to see the Red Hot Chili Peppers, Bruce Springsteen, Eric Clapton (can you believe he just turned 65?!) and Green Day, and last year we went to the Outside Lands Music Festival in San Francisco, where he connected with his current girlfriend and was in music heaven for 48 hours.

With the teen years, however, come hormones, moods and the alien takeover. He'd gotten angry, combative and argumentative -- in other words, he'd become a full-blown normal teen. A broken arm only enhanced these lovely traits when he could no longer beat on the drums (his new and second-favorite instrument) or turn up the amp on his guitar to blistering levels.

However, he could sing (or should I say rap) -- which he did, with unbridled fervor and passion, at a recent Rage Against the Machine tribute concert. With broken arm by his side (mostly healed) and a cold brewing in his system, my son displayed an outlet for his anger and passion that blew not only me but also everyone in the audience away.

Most teens let their anger out via pranks (the boys), horrible gossip and outrageous dress (the girls), drinking and drugs -- with foolish and often destructive results. For my son, it came out in this fashion: through screaming obscenities, physical exertion on a level that would exhaust this middle-aged dad and maybe a healthy release. I think this is a good thing, but what do I know? I'm just a guy! 

You be the judge: Enjoy the video of his performance here on YouTube. See what I mean?

next: Notre Dame Recruit Dead in Spring Break Balcony Fall
15 comments so far | Post a comment now
Denise April 3, 2010, 7:30 AM

I wish my kid just screamed RAGE and did it with such passion. Wow, that was amazing. Very interesting blog Bruce (as usual)…thanks.

Anonymous April 3, 2010, 9:05 AM

Its so great when your kids find their passion. That’s one thing my own father regrets. He was to busy chasing his passion and trying to entice us to like what he liked. This didn’t work…So letting go of our own expectations and dreams for our children is key. We must encourage them to find their own way and figure out what ignites their passion.

RamyS April 3, 2010, 10:45 AM

Awesome. Nothing better than a kid chasing his dreams and a parent that supports whatever that is.

teri stoddard April 3, 2010, 3:48 PM

Better he yell at strangers in the safety of singing than to be yelling in your face!

Bruce Sallan April 3, 2010, 4:44 PM

You hit it out of the park in one sentence Teri - lol.

Kat Wilder April 3, 2010, 7:39 PM

Teens do get angry, combative and argumentative — that’s there brain, and navigating a really confusing world at the same time that they realize adults don’t know sh*t (and as much as love knowing that, they get a little scared and want to know they can depend on us.

He’s a real rocker; he’ll be on iTunes soon enough.

Emma April 3, 2010, 7:49 PM

Well said Bruce. A very important lesson.

I think your learning applies not just to our children but to our siblings and spouse. Perhaps love means accepting their passion and understanding that our passion and value system does not necessarily equal the only possible path.

Mandy April 4, 2010, 10:53 PM

Motivational! As a fairly new mother I am already fearing the years I know are inevitable and how to go about in the best way possible.

I bet you are an amazing father and how great you are seeing all of this in your truly talented child and supporting him in allowing to express himself in this awesome way. All kids go through those years and a supportive and loving father clearly makes a difference. This was the first I’ve read from you but I will be sure to look up your former blogs now!!

Bruce Sallan April 5, 2010, 7:40 AM

Mandy - thanks so much for the kind words. Go to my web-site (see my bio) and find the column, “My Kids Aren’t Me, In Spite of Sharing the Same DNA” as I think you’ll find it really relevant to your concerns (about your kids growing up and what will happen) and is a further exploration of what is here in this blog. Thanks again and I hope you enjoy and find value in my regular writing as well as all my momlogic “Just A Guy” blogs. ML has been great to me and I’m so proud to be one of their “dads!”

Sonnie April 5, 2010, 8:48 AM

Awesome is all I can say Bruce. As a former death metal band manager I can tell you Arnie has some kick butt talent and great stage presence.

He definitely is channeling his anger and any aggression in an appropriate way.

Arnie Sallan April 10, 2010, 9:55 PM

Thanks for getting me that guitar dad. It really helps with the anger stuff. And yes yelling obsenities is a good way to get out my anger. hahahaha. I enjoyed this blog the most out of all of them

David April 12, 2010, 5:50 PM

Rave on!

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Sheena May 8, 2010, 10:57 AM

You are an awesome dad. Any other parent would be running around panicking wondering what their child has gotten in to. With your support, his anger will only be released in his music. He’ll thank you later for his success :).

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