Parenting websites, blogs, and message boards are mostly filled with moms talking motherhood. Even daddy bloggers primarily interact with a female audience. But us fathers discuss being parents, too. All the time. And so a recent interview I had with Stars’ Torquil Campbell, father of Ellington Beatrice Pepper Campbell, inevitably wandered away from their great new album The North and toward our toddlers. This is what dads talk about when we talk about being dads.
So how’s parenting going?
It’s amazing, but I haven’t been on tour since Ellington became a person fully—like, someone who can say, “I miss you. Where are you? Why are you leaving?” So that’s a pretty intense emotional thing, to have this person love you so hard.
How old is she now?
Three. I love it, really, a lot. She’s the best person I ever met in my life, the most charming.
My son’s turning three in a week.
It gets really fun. Their imaginary life just goes into hyper-mode.
Yeah, I’m experiencing that. My son Emile’s just decided he’s afraid of shadows, which is making bedtime a nightmare.
Ellington keeps talking about this dream she had like three months ago that she calls “the-man-and-the-monster dream.” There was a man, and there was a monster. I’m like, “Don’t tell me about it, that sounds fucking freaky.” Do you only have one child?
You gonna have more?
What’s your reasoning?
Well, I’m old, that’s one reason. And [my wife and I are] both artists and don’t have tons of money. It would put so much pressure onto the art that I would be afraid I’d have to give up and do something else just to support the situation. Plus, when it’s one kid, we could still be, “Hey fuck it—let’s go to Paris for a year. Just bring the kid.” You can do that. When it’s two kids, it becomes “well, what do they want to do?” I like the odds of us winning when there’s one kid. When there’s two, you become governed by what they want.
Once they discover democracy you’re kinda fucked. My reason is that even if there’s infinite love, there’s only finite time and finite money. And I want to give E all of it.
That, too. But one reason why I would like to have two kids is that I feel bad that, when we get old, Ellington will have to deal with us by herself, and deal with losing us by herself. That does concern me. And just having a witness… I had a sibling, and they’re the only people who were there when that shit went down. At least you can go back [to them] and say, “That was how it was, right?”
Now, kids can just go back to their Facebook timeline.
That’s right; it’s all fine now because they have so many “friends” in the cyberworld. You don’t need brothers and sisters anymore.
What’s your take on stuff like attachment parenting?
To me, parenting is such a series of totally random shit that you never could predict, and that you have no control over, that the whole idea of having any particular philosophy about it seems to be just asking for trouble, and setting yourself up to be disillusioned. Maybe some aspect of attachment parenting works with some kids, but there are so many factors going into this human being and the circumstances around your life and their life, I don’t know how you could say, “Oh, you gotta do this or you gotta do that.” It’s deeply naïve.
That’s my issue. I find fault with any parenting philosophy written by someone who has not met your child and knows nothing about the specific issue that you’re encountering.
I really don’t know many people who can honestly say, “Oh yeah, this is our philosophy about parenting and we’ve always followed it and it’s always worked perfect for us.” I can’t think of a single person. I know a lot of people who read all the books. I mean, we read lots of books, but shit happens.
You kinda just have to wing it rather than succumb to the fear mongering of the billion-dollar Parent-Industrial Complex.
Dude, it’s unbelievable. That’s what blew me away. Once you get pregnant, the door opens and you are suddenly exposed to this massive consumer world predicated on the ultimate selling point—which is: if you don’t buy this, you are a bad parent. It’s all you have to say to people, and they will fucking spend $1,500 on a stroller. I was a victim of it, every single parent is a victim of it, but soon enough you know that it’s a fucking con. We stopped buying into that shit a while back. But the kinda shit they try and sell you, it’s crazy.
Of course, it’s not even targeting you so much—you don’t “read maps,” you’re a guy. It’s targeting guilt-ridden moms…
…by saying, “If you’re going back to work you’re bad.” And, at the same time, “If you stay home, you’re bad.”
If you’re breast-feeding, you’re bad. If you’re not breast-feeding, you’re bad. If you’re not breast-feeding until they’re four, you’re bad. If you are breast-feeding until they’re four, you’re bad.
Even the whole term “attachment parenting” is implying that anyone who doesn’t follow that is…
…detached. It’s these catchwords. Y’know, “time out” works for some people, and it doesn’t work for others.
I wrote about sleep-training Emile, and letting him cry, and commenters got so angry about it.
Good for you. I wish we’d been able to do that. But circumstances were such that we couldn’t. Now, Ellington is not still sleeping in our bed with us, but we didn’t have a philosophy about it. We tried to cry-it-out, but Ellington had things going on with her, and we had things going on with us. But I’m not going to fucking make myself feel terrible because my child isn’t following the same path some other child is following. I think that’s forcing your kid into a box before they even know what a box is. I don’t know how people do it—and I don’t think it’s something that people who have two children do.
I was the second-born in my family growing up.
So was I.
So what are we gonna do to our only kids?
Just spoil them and make them really neurotic.