No job? This is your job now.

Welcome to Mean Dad Season


I wish my recent high school graduate could be working her normal summer job at the movie theater or going off for the day with friends. Since neither of those things can happen, we’ve got to come up with an alternate plan.

We’re now officially in Mean Dad Season.

We’re only on day four of summer break (can’t call it vacation since we’re not going anywhere), and we’re in real danger of falling into a ‘sleep late/stare at phone/eat something/nap/video game/stare at phone/Zoom with friends until 3 a.m.‘ routine.

Let me just say this about that: “nope.”

We’re at a weird point in the parent/child dynamic, because even though she’s a high school graduate, she’s not on her own or seasoned by a year in college yet. By this time next year, we’ll have a little less to say about what she does and where she goes, but for now we’re in a holding pattern between giving her independence and sticking to a few house rules.



Enter Mean Dad. She may log-on to Zoom chats or video games with friends after 11 p.m., yet every morning at 9 a.m., I yell up the stairs and wake her up.

I imagine she’d say this about that: “nope.”

We talked about it earlier this week. “If you don’t have a job, this has to be your job for the summer.” And then we laid it out.

She’s a musician, and she’s going to college to study music education, so her job this summer will be to play her bass guitar, double bass, piano, and study other musicians. She’s attending the Victor Wooten Virtual Bass Camp later this month, and she takes part in a 3-4 hour long webinar that the Berklee College of Music bass department puts on every Thursday.

Then she gets assignments from the house associate professor – me. Yesterday I handed her an interface box that allows her to plug an instrument into her laptop. I said, “Here – go make something. And you’re not allowed to ask me for help.” She’s never used it on her own, so it was a good opportunity for her to learn how by banging her head against the wall a bit. In the end, it worked. She had some great audio files to share, and she’s comfortable with multitrack projects.

Today’s assignment (which she doesn’t know yet because it’s only 8:30 a.m.) – I’m going to hand her a looping pedal and say, “make something. And you’re not allowed to ask me for help.” (A looping pedal allows one person record a musical passage, play it on a loop, and then layer live tracks over it.)

At the risk of sounding like a grumpy old man, I’ll say this – when I was her age (oh geez, here we go,) I washed dishes and bagged groceries. I think forcing her to play music is a really great alternative. It’ll certainly take away from her staring-at-her-phone time, but hopefully she’ll be that much more prepared when (if) she arrives on campus in the fall.

I asked her last week: “Do you think your mom and I are strict?”
Her answer didn’t take long: “Yes.”
But she seemed to understand. She’s not always super excited about it, but she gets it.


Categories: Dad on Bored