X Interview #3 Eric Scobie, Southfield, MI, Drug Free Dad of 4!
Since joining the Straight Edge Dads Facebook page, I’ve been turned on to a blog called Scobonixxx. The writer behind the blog is another dad and teacher. Through this interview, I’ve learned that we share a lot of similar coming of age experiences. And his words about his oldest son made me a little misty. Enjoy…
Name: Eric Clark Scobie
Number and ages of children: Elijah-10, Emmanuel-7, Judah- 5, Asher- 2
Location: Southfield, MI (Detroit Suburb)
Profession: High School Social Studies Teacher
Tell me a little about Scobonixxx and your background.
Well, in terms of the blog, a local girl named Anna who was booking a lot of shows here for a while was going to do a zine called Persistent Vision and she asked me if I’d do interviews for it. I used to do a zine called Holy Shit way back in the day and had actually been wanting to get back into the zine game in some capacity so I was more than down. I did an interview with my friend Rorik who plays in one of the best and most active bands in Michigan called Cloud Rat, they’re like a gnarly, screamy/grind band; not edge but vegan and very sociopolitical, some of my favorite people. Anyway, I had the interview done for months and nothing was happening with Anna’s zine so I basically said “Screw it, I’m just gonna take this as the kick in the pants I needed to start my own thing.” I sort of figured nobody does paper zines anymore and while I could run them off at work for free it probably made more sense just to do it as a blog. So that was that. It’s been a year basically, and I’ve been able to interview some of my favorite people and learn all kinds of awesome things I would have never expected. My favorite moments are when people open up about deeper personal stuff. I feel like whenever I read bigger magazines or whatever the interviews usually suck, they don’t ask good questions and it’s more like a commercial for the band as opposed to something that gives you a deeper look at the person. I obviously only interview people whose bands I like, so in a way I am advertising for them too, but I’d like to think I’m asking better/deeper questions.
As for my own background, I grew up in Detroit, got into hip-hop in middle school, transitioned into rock/rap stuff in early high school…..Biohazard, RATM, Dog Eat Dog, that kind of more mainstream stuff, and then later in high school discovered SOIA and started reading zines and then stuff just took off from there. By the time I went to college I was traveling out of state almost every weekend for shows, started booking here and there, did the zine, started a little label with some dudes, and eventually decided to try my hand playing drums. I haven’t looked back since.
What are your personal drug and alcohol-free recreational outlets? What are your favorite things to do with your child(ren)?
Recreation-wise I play drums in a band called Great Reversals, we’re kind of 90’s inspired stuff with a little bit of post-rock type melody, at least we like to think so. So that’s my weekly sort of escape is the Thursday night practice. We play locally every once in a while and then once or twice a year do some out of town stuff. So there’s that, and then still just going to shows when I can, I also book stuff once a month or so; nothing too crazy, just mostly when friends hit me up. And then the blog stuff. So most of my recreational outlets are still plugged into the core. At age 35 I don’t know if that’s awesome or sad, haha.
With my kids, we love to be outside, riding bikes, playing baseball, going swimming, blowing bubbles, going to the movies, all the normal stuff I guess. My oldest is deaf, autistic, and severely cognitively impaired so that often throws a wrench in the works. Sometimes he participates in stuff but not always. We always include him in everything, but my wife and I always have to have an extra strategy where one of us is prepared to bail if he can’t handle whatever it is we are doing. It sucks and sometimes it causes stress within the family dynamic, but it’s something we’re constantly trying to better manage and prepare for.
What pieces of art, music, literature, etc., inspire you at this stage in your life?
In terms of literature, I’m a big political guy, so I am constantly reading Politico, The Washington Post, NY Times, The Nation, Mother Jones, listening to NPR. I sometimes wonder what it would be like to get into political journalism.
As far as music, I grew up in the 90’s, and that sound is still my favorite. Greg Bennick and Rob Pennington are the closest things I have to punk rock idols, and I’d argue that Between Earth & Sky and Black God are just as inspiring to me as Trial and By the Grace of God were. I also love Axis, Run With the Hunted, Hollow Earth, Divider, etc. in terms of heavier hardcore. I also still have a soft spot for the screamier stuff, so Capacities is a definite favorite of mine, as well as bands like My Fictions, The Tidal Sleep, and many others that fall under that umbrella
What does being a good father mean to you?
I guess I define a good father now mostly through the lens of raising my oldest, which means being an advocate for his needs. My oldest son is non-verbal, and while his sign language skills have been picking up dramatically in the last year or so, he is still basically voiceless. My wife and I have had to fight and go through a decent chunk of hell to ensure that he is receiving appropriate educational services and supports while at school. So for Elijah being a good father means advocating tirelessly, relentlessly. For my other boys it just means loving them like crazy.
How does your partner feel about your drug-free choices? If single, how do your closest friends and family members feel about your drug-free choices?
My wife is definitely supportive. She smoked a decent amount of weed in high school so she definitely jokes about that every once in a while, but mostly she drinks socially. She may have a couple drinks half a dozen times per year, that’s about it.
Why did you decide to be drug and alcohol-free as a father (or beforehand)? Are there other major life choices that complement your decision?
For me, there were two major things that cemented the edge. The first is that my grandmother was an alcoholic. At the time I was too young to have an awareness of the pain it caused my family, but by my early teen years I watched as she burned my aunt’s house down in a drunken stupor and was eventually basically ex-communicated from our family. So from that I had a first-hand understanding of the destruction drugs and alcohol can cause.
The second thing was my high school experience. I had a pretty tight-knit crew of guys that I hung out with through middle school, but I’d say by about sophomore year all those guys wanted to do was drink and get high. I smoked a cigar or two with those guys but other than that I never touched anything else, I just knew it wasn’t for me. Anyway, I watched guys who had amazing grades through middle school and freshman year just sink academically pretty suddenly. They basically stayed in a haze throughout high school. I still hung out with them during school because at the end of the day they were my friends, but outside of school I started to spend less and less time with them because I simply had no desire to watch them get drunk and puke all over themselves, just not attractive, haha. So this resulted in a lot of lonely Saturday nights playing Sega Genesis and listening to my local hip hop radio station, haha. It sucked. Around this time one of my friends Ian started calling me straight edge because he had a cousin who knew about Inside Out and other bands. I guess I was; I just didn’t know it yet. By probably junior year I was transitioning away from bands like Biohazard and digging deeper into the underground so I slowly started to learn what was up and began to identify as straight edge.
How do your experiences as a son influence your choices as a father when it comes drugs and alcohol?
One other formative experience with alcohol….my dad was never a big drinker but a lot of times in the summer after mowing the lawn he’d come in and have a beer. I must have been 7 or 8 one time when he came in and offered me a sip off his beer. I have never asked him about this, but I took a sip and of course as a little kid it tasted like total shit, haha. I always secretly think that he did that so when kids started offering me beer later in life I’d remember that moment and be like “No way man, I’m good”
As a son, what is something you would you like your dad (or mom) to know?
Oh man, my parents always have been, and continue to be my biggest supporters so all they need to know is how endlessly appreciative of them I am.
How do/will you talk to your child(ren) about drugs and alcohol? How have/will you address drug and alcohol use among the friends of your child(ren)?
My fellas are young yet so we haven’t crossed that bridge just yet, but I’d imagine I will present it as something that is frowned upon and I will talk very bluntly about the dangers of it. At the same time, I want my kids to be able to make choices (good and bad), and just playing the odds, I’m realistic enough to know that out of 4 boys, some of them are going to dabble in that realm and have those kinds of experiences.
It’s funny because my folks were super lenient with me, I never had a curfew, it was always like “What time will you be home?” “Midnight”. “Okay, if you wind up being out later than that just call us”. So on the one hand I greatly appreciated the fact that my parents trusted that I had a good head on my shoulders, and a big part of me wants to extend that trust to my own kids. On the other hand, I know what kind of shit I could have gotten myself into had I wanted to, and so that makes me want to be stricter with my sons. I’m sure it will all be trial and error as we go.
How do religion, political ideology, or other philosophies play a part in your choices as a father?
Religion-wise, I am a Christian, and so for me that means loving others recklessly. I’m not sure if I always embody that, but that is the goal and for me the true meaning of following Jesus; to love others even when it will no doubt prove detrimental to yourself.
Politically, I am definitely left of center and as I said before I am a big-time political junkie. In terms of how that plays out as a father I think it means teaching my kids to be skeptical of those in power, to teach them that the best way to serve the world is to question those in authority rather than to follow without question.
Connecting back to my religious faith, I think it’s important that the kids understand we are all only human, which means we are imperfect and broken. From a political perspective that brokenness often manifests itself in leaders who seek their own gain rather than the gain of the people they should be serving.
I guess in the “other” category, my wife and I are both vegetarian, and we are raising our sons as such. We try to teach them respect for all life, we grow a garden in the backyard so they can see the process of growing food, so they can see how amazing the Earth is if we care for it. One day our kids may decide to eat meat, and if/when that day comes if they are ready to pay for and cook that food, I will not stand in their way. I’ll just stand next to them waving the finger of judgment singing Gorilla Biscuits in their ear, haha.
What pitfalls exist for drug-free fathers? How successful have you felt at overcoming them?
I don’t really know what pitfalls there are, other than that I skip most social functions at work because they usually involve alcohol, and I’ve got better things to do after work, like raise my kids!
What are your greatest hopes for your child(ren)?
I used to have big hopes, like I was going to somehow raise revolutionaries that would change the world and I’d instill them with all these radical values that would re-shape society. Then I had a kid who couldn’t hear, talk, or comprehend many basic things and so most of that idealism went out the window. I realized a big part of being a parent is recognizing how little you can control. That in no way absolves you of the responsibility to be a good parent and try to ensure that your kid has a good head on their shoulders, but in terms of wanting to push them in a certain direction, they will forge their own paths.
My greatest hope for my kids is that those paths will bring them abundant joy, and that they touch others for the better.
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