Since When Is Blink-182 Punk?
Frankly, I think one of the biggest lies you can tell yourself is that having kids won't change anything. They shouldn't change everything, but if they don't change anything, there's something wrong with you and how you're raising your kids. When I saw [i]The Lion, the Witch, and the Wardrobe[/i] in the theatre at the midnight showing, some people in the row ahead of us had brought an infant with them, and that was just ridiculous. If you can't get the sitter, you don't go. That's how it works. I suspect but cannot prove that you never know just how much kids are going to change your life until you're raising them. I do know that, even though I'm not raising her, one of the most significant moments of my life was the first time I looked into her eyes. She's still the most important thing in the world to me, and the only thing that's going to match it is when her half-sibling is born.
These fathers are not the kind you would expect to see at PTA meetings. They are such people as Jim Lindberg of Pennywise, Tony Cadena of The Adolescents, and Lars Frederiksen of Rancid. These are men who made their names railing against the system. If I were more into punk rock, I doubt I would need the film to tell me who they are. I'd know their voices, if not their faces. And after screaming at audiences for decades about breaking the rules, they find themselves laying down the rules. You see, dads have to do that sometimes, even if they're all about freedom. Bad enough that their necessary tour supplies include Just For Men to disguise greying beards and hats to hide receding hairlines. Your childless bandmates aren't going to get that you have to take a day or two away from a tour sponsored by a liquor brand to go home and take your middle child to the father-daughter dance. Your kids' friends' parents aren't all that appreciative when you forget to change the shirt with the profanity on it, either.
It's worth noting that almost all of these men themselves came from broken homes of one kind or another--they were runaways or their parents divorced or, often, both. They didn't have great fathers themselves, and they're trying to do better. Yeah, it's hard to grow old in punk rock no matter what. Everyone expects you to burn out or go crazy like Sid Vicious. However, it seems an odd standard of quality parenting to be proud that none of your teenaged children have run away from home, the way Ron Reyes of Black Flag is. The big conflict in the movie is between Lindberg, who wants to spend more time at home with his kids, and his bandmates, who don't think he's willing enough to go on tour. The documentary counts some two hundred days of touring during the time that the movie was filmed (though I don't know how long that was!), and Lindberg says he's pretty sure that they're actually touring more of late. The drummer, who is never interviewed, also has three children; I wanted to know how he felt.
There's something a little perverse to seeing Flea tear up over the importance of parenting. This is a man who is best known for wearing either pants made of stuffed animals or no pants--just a sock. And, yes, he is one of the dads whose attire when he went in for a parent-teacher conference heartily embarrassed his child. Because he is Flea, and he does not own normal pants, apparently. (Hey, at least he wasn't wearing the sock.) Most of these guys talk about how incredibly changed their lives are. Punk rock is a genre of the young, because the young don't have to worry about providing health care for anyone. (Am I the only person who wonders what Flea's daughter's last name is?) Now that they're older, now that they're parents, they can't just watch the world burn, because they have people they care about who would burn with it and aren't capable of getting themselves out of the way. They have to take care of someone, which in a way is taking care of everyone.
These men are perhaps not the best role models--though I admire Reyes, who decided that he would quit rock and get a day job so he could take better care of his kids. There is probably a way of taking care of your kids and still living the kind of life these men have, but it certainly isn't easy. Mostly, these people are making the choices between punk and parenthood, and it seems other parents who aren't punk rockers understand that more than other punk rockers who aren't parents. The soul of punk rock is doing what you want to do, and the soul of parenting is putting someone else first. It's a hard balance to find. That's the real issue of this story, and it's worth watching if you're ever planning to have kids. Kids don't change everything, but they do change a lot of things, and you won't know until you're raising them what they're going to change. It's more than just your TV habits--or having to listen to the clean version of your own albums in the car.