Growing Up

It’s funny, growing up my friends and I were always looked at as “the bad kids.” Dyed dreadlocks, black clothes, and death metal were our calling card. We truly didn’t give a damn and a lot of people scrutinized us with concern. Yesterday, after a few years of being out in the world and living life, I got to see my closest group of friends back home. One of us (Sc.) is going to be a dad soon and another friend (E.) and I road tripped back for he and his wife’s diaper party.

After an instant replay of our more intoxicated days the night before in Chicago, on Saturday, E. and I—both with severe hangovers—made our way back to Ohio. When we arrived, seeing Sc. standing in the driveway wearing a “The Man Behind the Bump” t-shirt with his textbook grin on told me everything I needed to know about his soon-to-be kid’s future. Following an hour or so of catching up, Sc.’s parents showed up and we started talking to his dad. After a double-take followed by an “oh my god!” his mom turned to E. and I with a look of astonishment realizing we were the two “angry” guys who used to destroy her basement every weekend (our decline into normalcy must’ve been shocking).

Getting caught up with Sc.’s mom, she shared the sentiment we all did “I can’t believe my son is married and I’m sitting at his diaper party.” Not to understate it: Sc. was the Satan to our Damian, the consummate ring leader who always said “it’ll be fine” as he pulled his truck onto sheets of ice with all of us piled into the cab, demonically screaming “dashing through the snow!” While you can’t say he’s been completely tamed, you can certainly tell he’s ready to be a father. Without any need to say it audibly, we all nodded at how great that was.

Following another friend’s (St.) arrival and getting to hold his fussy—but absolutely gorgeous—newborn, a weird feeling crossed my mind: “everyone’s alright.” That’s quite the feat considering our collective track record. To be holding the daughter of a guy who you used to party yourself into oblivion and manufacture makeshift explosives with in your backyard is damn interesting. Seeing how he lit up around her and lamenting how he’ll be going to jail once she starts dating was one of those things you’re happy you didn’t miss. To have not just one of your best friends becoming a dad, but two, and knowing they’ll both raise great kids is fantastic. And to think, a decade ago we were tying sleds to the back of high-powered lawnmowers and dragging each other around the block.

Coming back this morning, E. and I decided to put on some of the records we used to listen to during our more angsty phase. We couldn’t stop laughing, with songs like “Now You’ve Got Something to Die For” and “Dead Bodies Everywhere” being pulled up recalling “no wonder everyone thought we were so pissed off.” Adulthood be damned, we jammed out for nearly four hours straight, clad with shorter haircuts and far-brighter outfits than our younger selves would approve. While I can’t say I’ll be having my own kids anytime soon, when I do, I’ll take the approach all of our parents seemed to know was right: let them be crazy (with a dash of correction) while they’re young, there’s a pretty good chance they’ll all end up just fine.