Chris Dodge has always been a guy with a lot on his plate. His band resume reads more like a record collection and he was the mastermind behind of one of the most radical record labels in the punk scene (slap-a-ham) and continues to punish musically in everything he touches. Additionally, Chris is a real beer aficionado brewing his own beer, sampling from the finest breweries and blogging about it all the way.
Most importantly Chris is a dad to an 11 year old whom he puts above all his other priorities and make sure he knows that family comes first. I admire parents like Chris and am honored to have him take part in this feature.
1. Tell us about what you do, who you are, and how you balance your career with being a dad?
Chris Dodge, 45, Pisces. I’ve played in a lot of hardcore punk bands over the years, and still do. Bands like Spazz, Infest, Despise You, To The Point, Lack Of Interest, No Use For A Name, Stikky. I spend most of my spare time obsessing over beer, including brewing it and blogging about. My day job is in post-production as a project manager for remastering of feature films. It sounds exciting, but it’s not.
Best of all, I have my incredible wife Camille, and my brilliant 11 year old son Maxwell. As far as balancing time, I make my family first priority. Sometimes my other activities get in the way, but I make every effort to keep that balance and not get carried away with my own music & beer activities. Many venues are kid-friendly, so it’s easy to take him along when the timing is right, even though he’s not always that crazy about going out. But overall, I’m pretty lucky in that my boy is easy-going and adaptable. He’s equally as happy being active or being lazy, so we try to balance that as well. Sometimes it’s movie night, sometimes it’s going for a bike ride, or fishing, or visiting a museum. As a family we walk every morning. Homework is the priority when he gets home from school, but we always make sure he has some down time to watch a program or play a game before bedtime. He needs his balance & his space, especially now that he’s pre-teen and showing more signs of independence.
My favorite memories as a kid are of road trips and places we visited, so we make it a priority to travel as a family a few times a year, even if it’s on a budget. I only get 2 weeks of vacation a year, so we plan one big annual trip during the week of his Spring Break. He gets so much life experience out of our trips, more than watching a show about it on TV, or even sitting in a classroom.
2. What does being a modern-day dad mean to you?
There’s the stereotype of the crotchety parent preaching to their kid about “You don’t know how easy you have it; back in my day we (fill in the blank with some hardship)”. The weirdest thing is I can actually to relate to being that type of parent now. Everything now is geared towards instant gratification. Media and media players have created a mindset and lifestyle of immediate accessibility to be entertained by anything we want, whenever we want. At 11 years old, my son is only now beginning to understand patience. Part of it is my fault, part of it is the overall culture we’re in… our house has a couple computers, and an iPad, and an iPod, and multiple cell phones, and an XBOX, and a TV with a BluRay player, and cable, and a DVR, and on and on. Internet, YouTube, Netflix, satellite TV. TV screens in cars, in public transportation, in restaurants and stores, at the gas pump. To me, being a modern-day dad is balancing my own life experience and trying to instill the good parts of it with my son, but also finding a way to adapt these teachings to a world that doesn’t resemble what I grew up with. So it’s a huge learning experience for me as well.
Additionally, Max is actually my stepson which probably makes me even more of a Modern Day Dad. I’m willing to bet there are more step parents nowadays more than ever before. His Mother & I have been together since he was 2, so he’s grown up with me for as long as he can remember. That said, his real Dad is in the picture and very active as a parent which is great for Max, but with that comes its own set of unique challenges, most notably when there are two different households, the consistency in parenting styles, discipline, and rules overall never lines up. I grew up with divorced parents, and it was difficult for me to find my bearings, so I can definitely sympathize & often need to step back an remind myself about the struggles Max has to cope with, at an age where he really doesn’t fully comprehend the dynamics of each family.
3. How did becoming a father change your life?
So many of Max’s straight forward, blunt but true observations about the world and about me are constantly humbling as well as a reality check. I had to quickly learn howcope with the most difficult of emotional situations, while trying not to lose my cool, and dig deep for the most infinite of patience. I continually learn about humility, as well as the effects of both negative and positive influence. And while I think I’m teaching him life lessons, he’s actually teaching me an equal amount, if not more.
4. Whats the greatest part about being a dad?
I don’t consider myself a “rad dad” as I often feel inadequate, like I should be doing a WAY better job. But I suppose that’s one of the best things about being a dad… the constant learning process and enlightenment that goes hand in hand with doing your best to work with this little being, who starts out life knowing absolutely nothing, to help them grow into a functional, normal person. And when Maxwell displays a certain sense of humor or a special knack for music appreciation, I like to hope I’ve contributed to building his character. Best of all, I get to be a kid again by experiencing all of the fun stuff I enjoyed so much when I was younger… playing at the beach, attacking each other in the pool, watching Godzilla movies, silly jokes, goofing off, making him laugh, teasing each other… now I have the perfect excuse to act like I’m 11 as well. And who knew farts were the world’s greatest invention?
5. Can you share a funny story about being a father?
The best part about having a really, really young child is the ability to distract them easily. When Max was 4 or 5 and starting to have a meltdown, we would usually point out the window and say “What’s that?” He would look, and we’d say “Oh, you missed it.” And then he would have forgotten what he was having a meltdown about. Kids that young also don’t retain things for long, so was easy to hide and then dispose of huge bags of candy, or toys that we hated. Out of sight, out of mind. We still crack up about how much we used to get away with that.
Every day something funny happens. My wife and I have a vernacular that’s comprised entirely of quotes from Maxwell over the years. We’re constantly quoting hilarious things he’s said and using them in our everyday conversation, like when he was 5 and said, “Back in the day… before I had that toy”.
And I love quoting all of his excuses; a favorite is his argument for not brushing his teeth in the morning: “But I’m going to be eating all day!” His logic is so simple, yet brilliant and unintentionally funny.
We’ve told him many times that it’s OK to love whoever you want, even if it’s another guy. Max is definitely straight, but one day he did say, “I might like to be gay after all. It looks like fun. On ‘Modern Family’ they’re always having such a good time.” We were howling after that one!
6. What advice can you give any new father out there?
You will always make mistakes. Face it. Embrace it. But always learn from it. Whenever you think you have it dialed in, you will be thrown another curve ball, guaranteed. There are no “perfect” parents, because regardless of what you do, your child will always find some way to rebel and push your buttons. And don’t baby-talk. I’ve always talked to Max like I have with any adult. Kids will quickly absorb the things they don’t already know, and they’re way smarter than you realize, so don’t underestimate them.
Thanks so much Chris! It was an honor and pleasure! All the best!
Check out Chris’ beer blog which will eventually materialize as the book “Hardcore Beering” sometime in 2015: http://thebigyearinbeer.blogspot.com/
Also To The Point: www.facebook.com/tothepointlosangeles
You can find Chris on Facebook at: www.facebook.com/cdodge
Also keep your eyes peeled for his work with Infest.