I used to really only get teary during poignant moments at the movies, like when Rudy comes off the bench in the waning moments of the game and lands a sack. Or when Tom Hanks loses Wilson at sea in Castaway.
But ever since my wife and I had kids, it’s a whole new ball game. Pretty much anything vaguely sentimental and remotely dealing with the subject of children gets me going, even cheesy on-the-nose commercials that pander to the newly weak-willed among us.
Popular music is perhaps the biggest offender of the group, because it will creep up and bite your sorry soon-to-be-weeping ass when you least expect it. There have been days where one moment I am cruising down the Pacific Coast Highway with all four windows open jamming out to You Shook Me All Night Long, only to find that the next I am at a stoplight, gripping the steering wheel and looking straight ahead as Cat’s in the Cradle blares from the car speakers and tears roll past the edge of my Ray Bans.
Here are a few others that are guaranteed to leave you parents wailing and gnashing your teeth instantly:
Sure, this song is probably a lot about Lindsey Buckingham, but it’s also about Stevie Nicks’ relationship with her father. In a flash, my own daughter is in her 20s and a burgeoning rockstar and doesn’t come home for Christmas anymore and doesn’t even really Facebook message me very often and when I finally confront her I come off all angry when really I’m just sad and miss her but don’t know how to express it and she just says, “Time makes you bolder, Dad. Even children get older, and I’m getting older, too.”
Something about the one-two combo of realizing you’re now responsible for teaching brand new human beings about how life works and then realizing those very people will just grow up and end up teaching you right back gets me every time.
The Rainbow Connection
This was Attie’s baby song, which we decided on before he was born and sang to him in utero, and have used since he was born to calm him down whenever he’s gotten really upset. It has always made me cry a little, at first because of thoughts of all the magic and beauty that lies ahead of him in his life. Now I’m usually singing it to him to try and get him back to sleep at 3am and I’m crying because I’m so tired my bones hurt.
I Hope You Dance
This one is a problem for me, because it’s our daughter’s baby song and I haven’t ever managed to learn all the words because every time I play it I can’t make it past the first damn verse before I’m a big pile of whimpering mess. Go ahead, have a listen. I dare you.
This song was written by Chris Martin for his wife after her father died. Fuhgeddaboudit.
But the worst part is that my proclivity towards becoming emotional during movies has turned downright lethal in the waterworks department. Because no longer is it merely Tod being left in the forest by Widow Tweed at the end of Fox and the Hound, it is my wife leaving Atticus at preschool for the first day, looking up at her with big sad eyes, wondering if maybe he’ll never come home. And rather than ET telling Elliot he’ll be right here before he jumps ship for the home planet, it’s hugging baby Vivi goodbye before she heads off to college, and adulthood.