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Cat's In the Cradle

Many Harry songs mean so much but need so little explanation and that is certainly the case with this wonderful wonderful song.

Many years ago when my two boys were very young I went along to the local church which was featuring a series of video lectures by (I believe I have the name correct) Dr James Dobson. I believe that Dr Dobson is well known in the USA but not in Great Britain.

The lectures were entitled "Focus on the Family". In 1997 we holidayed in Colorado Springs and I believe there was a Focus on the Family museum. Never got to go there, however.

Anyway the lectures went on for a number of weeks and were fairly helpful, particularly during the periods when I felt like tearing my hair out through the frustration of having toddlers and no time to myself. Many parents reading this will understand the feeling.

Quite a few weeks into the lectures Dr Dobson mentioned a song he had come across. He admitted he didn't know much about the singer but he did know that numerous sermons were preached on this song. It was of course Cat's in the Cradle.

I immediately listened intently. Dobson's whole lecture was on the need for parents to get close to their children. Today, at the time of writing this,  my own sons are 16 and 14, making their way in the world. I hope I am close to them.

Today when I get angry with them I think of this song. It is wonderfully evocative. What parent could listen to this song and not be moved. The whole essence of the relationship between father and son is here.

Simply put, it tells the story of a father too busy to spend time with his son and the consequence is simple. The boy grows up and turns into his own father without time - too busy. Those wonderful lines:

And as I hung up the phone, it occurred to me, He'd grown up just like me. My boy was just like me. Lines of regret. Lines said when it's all too late. What a great message, what a great song.

My child arrived just the other day,

He came to the world in the usual way.
But there were planes to catch, and bills to pay.
He learned to walk while I was away. 
And he was talking 'fore I knew it, and as he grew,
He'd say, "I'm gonna be like you, dad.
You know I'm gonna be like you."

And the cat's in the cradle and the silver spoon,
Little boy blue and the man in the moon.
"When you coming home, dad?" "I don't know when,
But we'll get together then.
You know we'll have a good time then."

My son turned ten just the other day.
He said, "Thanks for the ball, dad, come on let's play.
Can you teach me to throw?" I said, "Not today,
I got a lot to do." He said, "That's ok."
And he walked away, but his smile, lemme tell you,
Said, "I'm gonna be like him, yeah.
You know I'm gonna be like him."

And the cat's in the cradle and the silver spoon,
Little boy blue and the man in the moon. 
"When you coming home, dad?" "I don't know when,
But we'll get together then.
You know we'll have a good time then." 

Well, he came from college just the other day,
So much like a man I just had to say,
"Son, I'm proud of you. Can you sit for a while?"
He shook his head, and he said with a smile,
"What I'd really like, dad, is to borrow the car keys.
See you later. Can I have them please?"

And the cat's in the cradle and the silver spoon,
Little boy blue and the man in the moon.
"When you coming home, son?" "I don't know when,
But we'll get together then, dad.
You know we'll have a good time then."

I've long since retired and my son's moved away.
I called him up just the other day.
I said, "I'd like to see you if you don't mind."
He said, "I'd love to, dad, if I could find the time.
You see, my new job's a hassle, and the kid's got the flu,
But it's sure nice talking to you, dad.
It's been sure nice talking to you."
And as I hung up the phone, it occurred to me,
He'd grown up just like me.
My boy was just like me.

And the cat's in the cradle and the silver spoon,
Little boy blue and the man in the moon.
"When you coming home, son?" "I don't know when,
But we'll get together then, dad.
You know we'll have a good time then."
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