Life With My 10 Year-Old Son, Jeremy

Lanny Davis Former Special Counsel to President Bill Clinton
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Seven years ago, I wrote a column about my son Joshua, “Life with my 10-year-old son.” I wrote about several “purple moments” bridging the generation gap between me and Josh, from sharing a WWE match to Josh helping me find on YouTube Willie Mays’s famous over-the-shoulder catch during the first game of the 1954 World Series.

Now I have another great son, Jeremy Joseph, who is nearing the end of his 10th year. Like Josh, I’ve watched new words creeping into his vocabulary since he was 9 — especially the word “Why?” As in, “Will you help me shovel the snow?” “Why?”

Recently I asked Jeremy who his favorite pop music star was. He answered: “Fetty Wap.” I was astounded. “Is there really a mother who decided to name her kid ‘Fetty Wap?’ Jeremy looked at me with typical 10-year old amazement that his dad could be so ignorant. “Dad! He’s a great singer. You are sooo out-of-it!”

[Note to readers born in the 20th century like me: Fetty Wap is, in fact, a leading hip hop star, originally born as Willie Maxwell II in Patterson, N.J., whose 2014 song “Trap Queen” made him one of the leading rap/hip-hop stars in the nation. Thank you, Google!]

Jeremy at age 10 still loves to do lots of things with his out-of-touch dad. He plays competitive baseball and basketball, so we play catch in the backyard and he loves to prove he can beat me playing one-on-one basketball. (He can.) His flag football team won two straight Super Bowls in the last two years, and he was MVP in both games. But I wasn’t allowed to congratulate or hug him in front of his friends — God forbid.

We went to the real Super Bowl 50 in Santa Clara, Calif., and Jeremy got a chance to see his beloved Denver Broncos beat the Carolina Panthers. Then I got my hug and “thank you, Dad, love you, Dad.” I thought, that’s good enough for me.

On Jan. 29, with Jeremy’s 11th birthday just five weeks away, my wife and I took him and older brother Josh to a Bruce Springsteen concert (my first!) at the D.C.’s Verizon Center.

As Springsteen came out on the stage, Jeremy and Josh and 20,000+ people of all ages — young children, teenagers, their parents, their grandparents — all were on their feet screaming, BRUUUUUUUUUUUUUCE!”

As I looked at the faces of my sons radiating pure joy and awe, and at the huge crowd swaying and dancing in the aisles, one sea of people under Springsteen’s magic, I experienced a purple moment: No one here cares who is a Republican or a Democrat, who is a liberal or who is a conservative. All were brought together by Springsteen — his brilliant music and lyrics, his dazzling talent and infectious good will and his good heart. He ended his concert with a standing ovation, as he asked all to help the city’s homeless and the DC Central Kitchen that serves them.

As the show was ending, I watched Jeremy and Josh with their lips moving in sync to Springsteen’s lyrics to his famous poetic song “Thunder Road,” their favorite.

“Hey I know it’s late, we can make it if we run.

Oh Thunder Road, sit tight, take hold

Thunder Road.”

As I heard that lyric, I looked at Jeremy and thought: Yes, you can “make it if you run.” But I also remembered what Josh has often reminded me in recent years: You can’t always “run” to “make it.” Sometimes you have to “sit tight and take hold” — to pause, to be mindful, and to remember what is truly important in life: family, health, happiness, knowing yourself and being happy with who you are.

To loyal readers of this Purple Nation column, I strongly suggest: Don’t miss these purple moments to find common ground, whether with your children or in politics. They don’t happen that often. “Sit tight and take hold.”

Lanny Davis served as special counsel to former President Clinton and is principal in the Washington, D.C. law firm of Lanny J. Davis & Associates, and Executive Vice President of the strategic communications firm, LEVICK. He is the author of a recently published book, Crisis Tales: Five Rules for Coping with Crises in Business, Politics, and Life (Threshold Editions/Simon and Schuster).