For most small town American parents, the balancing of a job and parenting children is enough. Add any sort of activities they require carpooling and tightly gripping a camera phone, recording the memories that will be broadcast on your Facebook page, and it's exhausting. Oh, and I almost forgot: At least half of these active parents have a spouse to pencil in on their Google calendar as well as the proverbial honey-do list around the house. Tiring.
But for me, owning my own business since 1999 and raising a two-sport-travel-athlete-son pushed the envelope. Averaging 250 days a year running from games to practices to tournaments in the Midwest and countless hours of personal training at the YMCA and other gyms is what it takes nowadays to prepare your child for college level athletics. We couldn't simply bypass that treadmill routine.
So, why not add one more time-consuming ball to juggle?
In 2011, my son, Spencer Kane, tried his hand at balancing travel and school basketball, baseball, being a 3.8 GPA student and the world of Youtube as a 14-year-old singer. Why not?
Ever since, our family has been on an adventure that is not for the weak. In fact, after traveling nearly 40,000 miles touring this past 18 months, I tip my hat to the stereotyped roadies who slug gear and drive hundreds of miles between shows. At 45 years old, I have a newfound respect for the artist who is trying to establish themselves in the rapidly-changing music industry.
Social media and Youtube have created a whole new platform to discover talent. The cornucopia of talent shows on TV make this 21st Century Gold Rush for fame quite a challenge. It's like being a needle in a stack of needles trying to be discovered by fans and industry executives.
Yes, it's only been a short three years since we've taken the plunge into helping Spencer pursue a life in the music and acting industry (Spencer is also a lead actor on the TBN Sitcom, "iShine Knect"), but I think it's more dog years in wisdom and wear and tear on this middle-aged dad.
Just a short list of some highlights these few years make my life as a parent and manager quite interesting. Let's see, there's been:
- Online and offline bullying
- Sstudio recording sessions and music video sets
- Having to give up team sports and his dream of playing in college
- Puberty laden-Peter Brady singing voice
- My wife going back to work full-time to help the finances
- Starry-eyed teen girls swooning over his social media posts, photos and videos
- His first acting job on a TV sitcom
- Life on the road
- Butting heads over wardrobe choices
- Dodging the money-taking sharks along the way
- Serious financial commitment
- Forging strong relationships with industry veterans and newbies
As a parent, my primary goal is to equip Spencer to be a responsible citizen and man that knows how to work hard and, most of all, rely on God to guide his steps. But more practically, how to manage relationships and himself when life becomes highly challenging no matter what his career or course.
My wife, Melissa, and I have demonstrated how a truckload of levity each day can make the journey endurable. Our home life is filled with antics and practical joking that eases the stresses of our small town American parenting (on steroids) of a teen who is traveling more than being a traditional student preparing his way for post high school life.
Spencer is finding his purpose at this season of his life and having as much fun as possible while doing it. He's learning how to hear my voice as the parent versus the manager and visa-versa. It's been a very difficult balance for both of us. The difficulty lies mostly with me having spent the majority of my adult life surfing the waters of corporate America. Frankly, I vacillate between the laid back, cool, goofy dad, and boardroom CEO pounding his fists and demanding results. He's learning how to respond as a professional singer when it's needed and yet still take down his mom in a wrestling match when she pile-drives him at unexpected moments.
For Melissa, it's all about preserving his childhood as long as possible.
I have taken to the world of blogging (The Why of Music) to document my experiences and the wisdom I'm learning along the way while helping Spencer develop his talents and pursue acceptance by industry executives who have a surplus of talent and a shortage of resources to promote them.
Although it's my first article on Huffington Post, I'm looking forward to chronicling the adventures of a middle aged father as he goes alongside his son's music adventure.
When Spencer was dedicated as a baby during a church ceremony, the pastor spoke some words that still impact me today. He said that as parents, we have children like an archer has a quiver of arrows. As a father, my job is to point that arrow in the direction God asks us to. I have been entrusted to guide him according to the talents he demonstrates and it's certainly been a blessing and challenge at the same time. The pointing has occurred over the years, releasing the arrow is the part where being his dad, not just his manager, seems to require courage I don't currently possess. After all, he's still just my baby boy.