Everything I Do

On Bryan Adams and the syrupy sweet sound of parenting

| July-August 2010

  • Everything I Do Illo

    Esther Pearl Watson / www.estherwatson.com

  • Everything I Do Illo

A funny thing happened the other day. It began after I’d fed my nine-month-old daughter, Ella, and was trying to fold the laundry while my wife made dinner. Ella wouldn’t have it. She needed attention, stimulation. She needed to rock.

I cranked up the Bryan Adams and put on a one-man rock ’n’ roll show. I really got into it. I ground out riffs on an invisible ax, pounded the high chair drums, and sang in a loud, squeaky falsetto while alternately wearing an authentic smile and an ironic version of the iconic rock ’n’ roll grimace. You know the one: eyes shut tight, fist clenched, head tilted down ever so slightly, as though your feelings are so intense that you just can’t look up. Then, in the midst of this ironic display of affection, I had a genuine realization. I’d started to mean what I was singing.

There I was belting out “Everything I Do (I Do It for You)”—a song made from 100 percent pure Canadian maple syrup—when I started to tear up. Suddenly the lyrics meant as much to me as they did in eighth grade, when I had a car wreck of a crush on a 14-year-old Aphrodite named Emily Horn. I would fight for Ella. I’d lie for her, if necessary. I’d certainly walk the wire for her. And if it came to it, I’d die for her.

I know it’s true, but I surprised myself. If it’s just a cheesy pop song, why did I feel like Bryan Adams had invaded my brain, stolen my thoughts, and was singing them to the whole world, just like when I was 13? I think because, in many ways, becoming a parent is just like becoming a teenager.

As a teen, you’re fully in the moment, every moment. It’s when you literally fell over laughing at Eddie Murphy; when you stayed up all night playing Tecmo Bowl with your best friend, then played a Little League game the next morning. And how could two hours on the phone be enough to give your take on the day? “Did you see what Chuck was wearing today? Oh, and seriously . . .”

Does any of this sound familiar? Laughing hysterically as you play peekaboo with your son? Staying up all night, only to rise early the next day? Telling your mother every detail of your daughter’s day? “Do you know what she did? She sat up, looked at me, and said ‘mamba.’ It’s not a word,
I know, but you know, I think she meant me.”

Michael Elliott
7/7/2010 2:36:43 PM

Bravo! Completely true! And about the ability to "dial down" that the author expects to come later, I wouldn't be so sure. I've been a parent for close to a decade now, and I still can't sing along with Creed's "Arms Wide Open" without choking up. :)

Laurel Erickson
6/17/2010 1:42:35 PM

A story well-told and full of passion. Who better to sing to you than your dad?

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