Jimmy Del Ponte
On The Silly Side
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My son turned 14 this past Saturday - it seems like only yesterday I was pushing that stroller down to Davis Square and stopping at the playground across from Osco, Brooks, Rite-Aid. Next year he will be starting high school and soon he will be asking for the car keys. I know it sounds cliché, but where did the years go?
Isn't it something the way we protect, love and nurture our kids? We are like animals when it comes our young. When my kids came along, my life had only one purpose - and that was to watch over, defend and help them until the day I die - that's what good parents do. We want to make sure they are happy, healthy and safe. We give them a cell phone and constantly remind them to keep it charged. They lose it and we get them another one - our parents always asked if we had a dime in case we had to call home! We drive them to hockey, baseball and play rehearsals. If their teeth are crooked, we get them braces - if they need sneakers, we buy the most expensive ones. We love our kids. We will be in their corner until we are gone. In the meantime, we have to try not to embarrass them (no kisses in front of their friends!).
Speaking of defending our kids, the cast of "Back in the Ville," my Summer theatre camp (Project STAR) play was invited by Mayor Curtatone to perform at his inaugural party, so I was setting up the story line...I announced that the character "Johhny Scott," played by Joey DelPonte (the birthday boy) had returned to Somerville after 35 years and...blah blah...blah.... When the kids had finished their 5 songs, they all introduced themselves. The reason I said my kid's name up front was because he played the lead role, and I was merely explaining the action. I couldn't say "Johnny Scott - played by that kid over there" could I? Incidentally, he auditioned with all the other kids for the lead and was picked unanimously by the director, assistant director, four student assistants and every member of the cast! So...as I am kibitzing with someone after the performance, a smiling fellow (who I have known for years) was on his way to the buffet line throws this at me: "you're supposed to introduce all the kids not just your own." I was so stunned by the words that I was left speechless. Me, of all people, didn't have a comeback. I figured he was probably just kidding, but I am a bit on the defensive side (ya think?). I should have smilingly said "Thank you, Emily Post" or "you're right, Ryan Seacrest." I guess he wasn't paying attention to my set up of the play. He also apparently didn't hear all the cast members introduce themselves after the performance and applause. And then again, maybe he was just playfully busting them on me. But anything to do with my kids puts me on the defensive. Next time I have to introduce my son I will just say..."that handsome little chip off the old block, what's his name!" As you can see, I have let it go...
My point is that when it comes to our kids, we are proud, overprotective, instinctive bears. One of my dad's favorite sayings was "you tell them your Daddy said it was okay!" and "tell them you're daddy will come down there and straighten it out..." Now I am the daddy, even though they refer to me mostly as "daddeo", "dad" or simply "can you buy me..."
Driving through Somerville with me is a tour through the old days for my sons. "There's where Goff's Auto and Butler Music used to be, and that was where Harold's Luncheonette was! My band The Tools' record was in the juke box! That's where Uncle Chuckie lived and we practiced in that garage right there." They know the history and they know I am proud of my city and of my friends.
My boy is 14 years old! I couldn't be more proud of this kid. He has a band, he makes videos and movies, he is a good student, a songwriter, an actor and he keeps an eye on his little brother. Most of all, he has a good heart just like his Uncle Joe, who he never met. They just missed each other. My brother Joe was going up to heaven as my son Joey was coming down. Apparently, some of the wonderful qualities rubbed off! But boy, did the time fly by.
It's been especially great hanging around with my oldest son. I truly consider him one of my closest friends. He taught me how to use my GPS, he creates graphics for my cable show, and he makes great press release posters for me. He is my right-hand man. He has his mother's blonde hair, blue eyes and technical expertise. For one of his gifts I am going to try to not raise my voice with him anymore and speak to him more like an adult.
Although my parents, brother and sister never got a chance to see my kids, I keep them alive through stories and photos.
So happy birthday, Joey! Ever since I first saw you in that delivery room I knew we were going to be friends forever!
By the way, here is a list of the stars from Project STAR who performed at Mayor Curtatone's party: Casey Bourque, Michael Buckley Jr, Joey DelPonte, Jimmy DelPonte Jr, Brandyn Perry, Adriana Salami, Jennifer Silva, Shauna Slattery, Chris Tabb and Brianna Xavier.
Please join me at Amelia's Kitchen every Thursday from 7pm to 9pm, with your host Delio Susi. It's Delio and Del! The food is Delio-licious, and the entertainment is Del-lirious! You can email Jimmy directly at firstname.lastname@example.org.