This week's blog post is by WDP co-host Matt Rocco, who
lives in the Edgewater Glen neighborhood of Chicago with Professor
Foster (his non-white, non-dad wife), and their daughter Viva.
Their life is an all-singing, all-dancing, waking nightmare of
The mantra of the modern parent is to broadly enrich their
children - to expose them to a spectrum of activities and let them
discover themselves, or follow their bliss, or awaken the giant
within, or whatever.
Ugh, modern parents.
The problem with exposing your child to a cornucopia of
experiences is that they might find their true calling in something
that you don't want for them, or that you just plain don't like. It
is asking a question you might not like the answer to and if you
don't watch out, that answer might be a calling in the Arts.
That's capital "A" arts, like Dance, Music, Painting, Sculpting,
Writing, or (urp) Theater. You know, stuff that they don't
pay you to do, stuff that involves insufferable concerts you'll
have to sit through after work, stuff that will end up finding them
a husband who wears scarves indoors and wants you to donate to his
Kickstarter campaign to make an indie film involving a lot of
Here are just a few qualities the Arts have to offer - qualities
The Arts are global, cross-cultural and expose us to the
broader human condition
You know what else is global and cross-cultural?
Nobody likes that stuff. The world got smaller and we started
sharing cultures and now we get sad every time we look at our Nikes
because we know some blind orphan lashed to a table in Southeast
Asia had to sew them with their bleeding fingers.
I used to love my Nikes.
The Arts are rooted in history
History is boring.
So are the Arts.
Ever been to a museum? How about the symphony? A ballet? An
opera? How about a play - especially an old one? SNOOZE.
In the past, people sat on their butts for hours on end, nowhere
near snacks or a bathroom, phones put away, and watched very little
happen from very far away.
Then they died of cholera.
The Arts encourage self-expression
No one likes a self-expressy-pants!
Self-expression leads to weird haircuts, piercings, and voting
for third-party candidates. You work hard to keep a nice home, a
couple of running cars, and a stocked pantry. The last thing you
need to come home to is some punk kid expressing themselves all
over the place.
Young people should express themselves quietly and privately in
their bedrooms after cleaning their plates and asking to be
The Arts teach subtleties in perspective and
I think we can all agree that subtle perspectives get you
J.P. Morgan was not a master of nuance. Dale Carnegie was not a
titan of innuendo. Henry Ford did not trade in delicate strokes.
Ours is a country whose truths are written large and in black and
white. We elect the men we'd most like to have a beer with, give
reality shows to the girls with the biggest funbags and shop at the
convenience stores lit with the most blinding fluorescents.
Subtlety is for the French.
The Arts create opportunities for "peak experiences" and
"Peak experiences" are euphoric, rapturous moments, and "flow
states" are energized and blissful times of full involvement.
Performers often call it "connecting" or "being in the zone," and
it is addictive. It makes you "catch the bug," i.e. forget
everything you know to be smart and everything your parents worked
for and move to the desert to study glass sculpture with a one-eyed
If you allow your child to have a religious experience in a
rehearsal room or studio or on a stage, you're allowing their mind
to be clouded by joy when they should be faking community service
work for their college resumes.
Your kid should have their peak experiences under the bleachers
like you did. You turned out all right.
The Arts are a counterpoint to our rampant
… and therefore pay horribly. How can you market an indictment
of marketing? How can you price a takedown of capitalism? The child
choosing a life in the Arts is choosing a life that exists at the
whim of the Rich - the people who made a living doing something NOT
in the Arts and now keep the Arts alive by purchasing season
tickets and putting their names on placards on the backs of chairs.
If these modern Medicis like the Arts so darn much, how come they
spent their lives moving money around and selling widgets? Easy for
them to try live vicariously in the Arts now through rampant
underwriting and purchasing overpriced drinkware in the gift shop!
They chose right the first time through life.
Choosing the path to a life in the arts is choosing the hard
road, "the road less traveled by," which is something I read in a
poem by a guy who was probably buried in a pauper's grave and
dissolved with quicklime.
Viva Rocco (Age 2), Triumph of the Arts, 2013, Marker on
It's too late for me - my daughter is only 2 and she's already
pounding on the piano, practicing her "arabesques" in the mirror,
and singing the opening bars of "Sempre Libera" out the window. She
listens to the singers in lessons with Mommy, she goes to
rehearsals with Daddy, she does diction warm-ups with actors,
learns combinations for dance calls with choreographers, and has
even attended a couple of lectures on the finer points of the
lyrics of Oscar Hammerstein II. It's too late for her - she'll
never amount to much. It's not too late for you.
Act now! Hide the pointe shoes and burn the easels and shove
those recorders, rhythm sticks, and anything that says "Baby
Mozart" on it deep into the recycling bag. Help your child make
sensible choices and avoid letting them end up with degrees called
BFAs or MFAs. The F probably stands for something dirty.
Remember, you're only one "peak experience" away from having
kids who can only afford to put you in a really crappy rest
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