Your age, your professional moniker, and Bryce's age?
59, Restaurateur (Post & Beam, and Willie Jane), and Father of Bryce 28 years old.
Your dad, famed restaurateur Howard Johnson, was a big influence in your life, how did that relationship inform who are as a man, and who you are as a father? (and did it prepare you for fatherhood?)
The people, places, and experiences I was exposed to through my dad, were full of life lessons and cherished memories. However, it’s the time I got to spend with him, and the closeness of our relationship, that I’m most grateful for. Our relationship taught me that there is no substitution for being present as a father emotionally, physically, and spiritually.
When you became a father, what surprised you most about the experience?
As an only child, the intense love you feel for family, I’d only experienced for my mom and dad. With Bryce, and now with my wife of seven years, there’s this deep “I’d take a bullet for you” kind of love. I wouldn’t say that surprises me, though the depth of caring is incredibly powerful.
Given the demands of your career, owning the wildly popular Post & Beam, and Willie Jane, time to spend for the daily activities of your son's life (now and when he was younger) must be limited. How do you create quality time, and/or incorporate him into your world?
I’m so happy for him. He’s been getting busier and busier in his music career. That said, we’re close, we try to talk on the phone often, and always make a point to grab a meal, take a drive, or just hang out and talk, before too much time passes. We enjoy spending time with my wife’s family on Cape Cod during the summer. We have an ongoing contest to see who can eat the most lobster rolls, and he usually wins.
Best piece of advise you have ever received about being a parent?
Being a parent can be a really humbling experience. Can you recall a moment when you've missed the mark, or when you've had to apologize to Bryce for something? Please tell us about that moment.
My dad had a bad temper before he and my mom split. There was lots of arguing and he could be very intimidating. When Bryce was in his teens, he lived with my girlfriend and me, and she and I argued quite a bit. I’d always made a point to not purposely expose Bryce to my own bad temper and thought my girlfriend and me arguing was out of his earshot until the day he called me on it. I felt terrible that I’d set that example and apologized for it.
How do you show love, and does it change as Bryce gets older?
Staying present, listening, that does not change. Our relationship continues to evolve. I still assume the role of “teacher” though the learning goes both ways for sure. A friendship has developed, and now that he’s a bit older we have a back and forth dialogue as men. I really love just talking with him; he’s so smart and creative.
The biggest misconception about Black fathers is...?
African American men have and continue to endure so much, yet men of my dad’s generation not only survived, but also overcame, and ultimately prospered. If not misconception, I’d say the biggest shame is the misappropriation of funds incarcerating African American fathers, especially for non-violent drug offenses, rather than putting those same dollars toward rehabilitation. One of the most amazing of President Obama’s accomplishments is his undoing the inhumane, harsh sentencing guidelines, granting many non-violent offenders amnesty, and reuniting them with their families
How has being a father informed how you move through the world?
Everything I do, I ask myself, “would Bryce be proud of me?” Of course, no one is perfect.
What legacy would you like to leave for your son?
I hope he inherits what I did from my dad: try to treat people well, have integrity and value your reputation.
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